White Christmas Update #3

I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted about the show.  I mean I feel like I have merely blinked and October has come and gone.  But here’s the scoop, y’all.

One of the reasons that I haven’t written anything was not only due to time issues, but also for lack of inspiration on something to tell you.  But thanks to some interesting events, I am feeling up to chatting with you.

These past ten to twelve days have been filled with all kinds of fun things, but before I talk about those, I gotta tell you what it’s like to feel like you are hitting the ground running and moving quickly and as you round the corner you body slap right into a reinforced brick wall.

The first week that I began working on the role of Phil Davis, I felt like I was making some progress very quickly with getting most of my lines memorized quickly and blocking was a cinch.  The dances were a bit challenging, but I was hanging in there. It felt really good to know that I could jump into a new character two weeks late and feel like I wasn’t holding up the production.  The second week was more of the same, but I felt some frustration at missing or getting late to rehearsals due to my work schedule.  So I never really had a chance to learn the actual tap section of my number “I Love a Piano” that starts the top of Act 2.  Thanks to some rehearsal video footage and the willingness of my fellow cast mates to come to rehearsal early to fill in the blanks for me, I am 90% of the way to having it down perfectly.  So a big thank you goes out to Val, Patricia, Sergio, Ben, Jen V. and Stephen.

The building of the character so far has been the hardest part because I keep finding more and more within the lines and actions to use to evolve Phil.  Of course this is ideal and something that an actor should always look out for, but I worry that if I keep finding new things and incorporating them  into the show, it may not be appreciated by some of my fellow actors. But I know that if what I am doing doesn’t work, our great and currently ill director, Katie will say to pull it back/tone it down.  With the sheer scope of the show, there hasn’t been time to work on character work with Katie, nor has there been enough time to get through everything that she has planned each night.  Still, we plugged away.  As the scenes began to lose their coloring, I could feel the energy and focus physically drop as “Line” was called, or if there was a question about the blocking.  For a whole week this went on, and Katie voiced her frustration, often.  She said that it felt as though we weren’t moving forward at the pace she had set for the show.  And to be perfectly honest, she was right.   It’s hard to get a show of this size fully up and running when there are so many conflicts with scheduling.  Many of the principals, not just myself, had job schedules to contend with or other performances that took first priority.  My gripe was that if this were the standard WVLO rehearsal schedule, which is Sunday 6-9pm and Monday-Thursday 7-10, I feel there would have been less conflicts.  I know that I would’ve been missing a LOT less! But in theatre, it is essential that one must be adaptable.  The week before we got into the theatre, I can’t explain why, but it felt like there was an edginess to the room. Like Katie wasn’t the only one frustrated, and being 30+ people couped up in this little rehearsal space while we were supposed to run through the show, definitely didn’t help.  I know I yelled at/to a couple of people when they didn’t seem like they were paying attention to their entrances.  And I know it wasn’t my place to do so, but I really just wanted to get through SOMETHING, you know? Besides, it’s not like they could hear me over the music and singing.

We had our costume fittings, and there were a few bumps in the road, but I am sure that it will be smoothed out.  I really like having all of the “green” outfit on, but there is some concern that I can’t perform a full costume change within a minute with it. Bummer.  The thing I hate about costumes is that I always feel like I have super short arms.  Almost all the sleeves are too long. But I guess that only a small setback that I have to deal with.

So that was the brick wall.  As I peeled myself from it, I felt like I had lost a few teeth, gotten a bruised cheekbone, a big ol’ scrape across the forehead.  All this is figuratively speaking of course.

But then once you get around the wall, that excitement from the first weeks of rehearsals returns and the fun mystically returns! That happened on the first day that we got to run things on stage.  During those tough weeks, we had tried to do the whole cast get together thing.  It was fun, and I feel the many nights like that are why I didn’t realize how fast the month had come and gone.  Tee hee.

Back to rehearsals though!  The first night on stage we had the opportunity to work on spacing most of the dance sequences.  I cannot tell you how good it felt to extend my arms without fearing that I would poke out the eye of a cast mate.  I don’t know if it was the actual practice that I attended before rehearsals, but it felt so simple to slide into the numbers that I missed due to work.  Especially now that there was space to slide.  That night alone had raised my hopes and excitement levels once again.  Now as we begin to work with the sets and platforms, it feels like there’s a whole new show just peeking over the corner waiting to be discovered.

As it turned out during that first week of rehearsals at the theatre, Meg (who plays Betty Haynes) had a birthday.  There’s something that makes me smile when you have a group of people who are working hard toward a common goal stop everything because they want to wish you a happy birthday.  I don’t know how that will read in this clip, but I wanted to share that with you.  Also, a little disclaimer, this is one of the biggest groups of jokesters I have worked with, so please know they don’t sound this weird on stage!

After rehearsal that night, Jillian (who plays the other sister, Judy Haynes) planned a night out for Meg at Dan Brown’s in Palo Alto.  I will forever now associate the Opening Section of the Blue Skies routine with Metallica’s “For Whom The Bell Tolls”!  There was karaoke at this place, and just before the singer went on Meg dared the ladies of the show to perform Blue Skies as back up dancers for whoever was coming on next.  And they did!!! It was weirdly awesome how well the two songs synced up.  That is, of course, until Val actually started to sing her part in Blue Skies!!

I think one of the most useful sets that we are playing with at the moment is the first dressing room that Bob and Phil share.  There was some concern at first because it is set on such a narrow platform, but there’s plenty of stage space to use that gives you levels, so I love it.  It’s also nice to have the “mirrors” to play with as well.  I can’t wait to incorporate the costumes, because we have a costume change right on stage, and that includes pants.  Yikes.

With a few minor hang-ups, we have gotten through both Acts, and all the numbers on stage. Now as we come to Tech Week, or what’s affectionately known as “Hell Week” the stakes are high.  Most things should be solidified in our heads, and the long hours of rehearsal are about to accrue.  But now each day we get to add more and more.  First lights, then costumes, then make-up, then our first audience!!  I can’t wait to see how this week goes.

I am adding a few pictures from the past few rehearsals onto the Facebook photo album.  Have a look.

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