October 16, 2010

On the Cusp of Tech

I call this: On the Road Again,theatre — Posted by KP @ 11:54 pm

We finished our three weeks in the rehearsal studio today. I don’t think I got a break all day from 9AM to 8PM, except about 15 minutes to scarf down a slice of pizza at around 4:30 while Meaghan minded rehearsal. We rehearsed lots of scenes, ran Act II, loaded out all our props, furniture and road boxes from the studio, rehearsed some more scenes, and then restored the rehearsal room to its natural condition.

As soon as we had the studio looking clean and orderly, with all the chairs and tables stacked exactly as they were when we found them three weeks ago, Meaghan and I lugged the last remains of our rehearsal supplies down to the theatre (the Schimmel Center at Pace University) to check out the set.

We’re not planning to be back until the morning of tech on Tuesday, so we wanted to stop in and make sure everything looks good. The theatre is really nice. It’s much wider and less deep than I pictured, but it seems very intimate. It reminds me of some of the venues we played in the early days of the tour last year. The deck is of a nice size, with sufficient wingspace on both sides, a large-ish shop upstage and enough room for an onstage crossover. The backstage area reminds me a lot of our venue in Philly where we closed the show last year.

I had been warned that the dressing rooms were up a long flight of stairs, but what we found up there was not at all the dark and dirty dressing rooms I pictured from my experience of narrow backstage metal staircases. The staircase, though very long and somewhat narrow, is sturdy and safe, and leads to the cheeriest backstage area I think I’ve ever seen. The color scheme and lighting create a warm and cozy (cozy as in comfortable, not cozy as a euphemism for too small) atmosphere. The green room is off the hook. Everything is red and gold — there’s an entire wall covered in gold silk. It looks like it should be Queen Victoria’s sitting room or something. I’ll have to get a picture sometime this week.

Feeling very good about the accommodations, we returned to the stage to scope out the set. If we encountered this house on the road, it would be a very good day, so it’s nice that we get to spend a week here. The set looks pretty much as it always has — it was initially a little disorienting when we first saw it from the back of the house because it’s been cut down a little, I think by 2 feet. I did my usual inspection, walking up the staircase shaking everything looking for loose bolts. It feels like we’ve never left. I feel very confident because we’ve had most of last year’s crew involved in some part of this process, so there’s a clear handing off of experience with the show to our new crewmembers.

Tuesday we’ll start tech. The cast has been running the show for about a week and a half, so they are very accustomed to the sequence of the show. We’ve had all the show props and the actual prop tables in the rehearsal studio, so I think they will adjust quickly to the stage. Navigating the stairs, and adding the element of costume and wigs will be the biggest adjustments for them. Tech-wise, the show already exists, it will just be a matter of seeing if everything looks and sounds the way it did before, and if we still like the way that was. Including rehearsals, I’ve probably called this show about 90 times in the past year. I’ve never teched a show that I already knew so well. I’m prepared that problems may crop up, or there may be things we’re asked to change, but it’s nice to have a very solid framework to follow, and to only need to make changes to that, rather than starting from scratch, as one normally does in tech. I’ve also gone through three weeks of rehearsal knowing what my cues are, and have watched this cast with that in mind.

We’re very close to our departure. Just three days of tech, culminating on the third day with an invited dress rehearsal, then three performances, and the next morning (Monday) we get on the plane to California. This weekend is our last time off before our first day off on tour, on Halloween in Phoenix, AZ. Crazy! I need to pack!

I’ve got a lot of work to do this weekend, mostly with the script. We’ve been making changes to the text up till today (and might make more), so I didn’t want to commit to a script until today’s rehearsal was done. I’m going to send the revisions to the production team so they can show up on Tuesday with all the changes, and then re-do my calling script with the current text. I’m going to start with last year’s calling script and just edit the text, as that seems easier than adding hundreds of cues into the new script (as each cue involves messing with margins, borders, underlining, colors, etc.) Check out the scripts page to see what it looks like. You can even download last year’s script from that page.

It’s still tech, but I am determined to have fun.

And as we depart New 42nd Street Studios, I want to share my favorite bit of signage:
You know for every rule like this, there’s a good story.