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As I pulled open the door to the Mexican Heritage Theatre’s cast entrance, I could tell that the mood inside was not only playful, but incredibly positive.  I know you are probably thinking “Well, duh!”

So let me backtrack, Tuesday at work was just a funky, junky day, to be brief.  So when I got to the theatre after work, I wasn’t in the right head space to feel or “see” that there was some weird energy going on around me.  I carried with me all the frustrations and problems of the day as got my costumes on and props prepared for the run of the show.  This would be our first true run thru of the show with the lights, and sound and set changes all happening.  Because of this important point in the rehearsal process, I had an even harder time finding that calm one usually needs to find the character that you are about to bring to life. So I was still in my own little world even after I stepped onto the stage for the first time.  This is always bad.  Always.  As I walked off stage, I FINALLY began to get into the swing of things.   But the mood felt odd.  Still.  I thought it was something that I had brought with me, but as the night wore on, I realized that there was something more going on here. I couldn’t put my finger on it, though. As we get to the intermission break, I begin to hear grumblings in the dressing room and BOOM!!!  Now I know that we are officially in the dreaded Hell Week.  Sarcastic Hooray inserted here.  For those of you unfamiliar with the term, we loving refer to the week before Opening Night as Hell Week.  This is the week where everyone is needed for what seems like forever, as we stand around for lighting cue set ups, and the stop and starts of scenes to test set changes, costume changes that may or may not work due to how fast some of them are, and organizing where you need to have your props set for minimum travel time.  While this whole rehearsal process has had it’s ups, it’s also had a few things that have become a habit.  Those habits were the foundation of the anxious energy that was in the building.  Add the stress from the past weekends events, and the new challenges of the run, and you have people who were seriously on edge, and by Act 2 Scene 8, things had reached the point where people were getting angry.  So after the run, the group had a pow-wow and a whole lot of frustration was let out!  Luckily the people who voiced their frustrations used well thought out criticisms and made valid points. So as I left the rehearsal that night and drove home, I wondered what the ramifications of the event were going to be on the next few nights.

Before today’s run thru of the show, we all took a moment to get on the same energy and wave length.  And even though I was late (What? I have to work.) and made it into costume 15 before places, I was able to share and focus my energy and dedication to the cast and production.  So when we hit the stage, there was a few minor hiccups, but things sailed and we made it with a show of 2 hours running time.  I did break my bottle of booze, so the props manager had to make a snap choice and gave me a plain old cork to use.  Minor crisis averted! Personally, I screwed up two of my lines.  One of them, I am supposed to say “Puro vaquero” and it came out more like Puro Cabrone, I don’t even know what that means.  The other line I missed was more like I jumped on top of my cast mate’s line.

Everyone who participates in this process is important.  Allowing them to the chance to talk openly and constructively made for a positive change, while bringing up those issues that need to be handled.  Even more important, as long as the words they use aren’t voiced as personal attacks, the lines of communication stay open and fixes for those issues begin. Just like any other problem.

So even though the last two nights have produced two different performances, I am totally confident that we’ve got a show kids!  Woo hoo! Get your tix now, guys. Click on the picture above to order your tickets and there’s an early bird special.  If you get them ahead of time and not wait til your at the door, you can save a  couple of bucks. Maybe donate it to a good cause.  Like Teatro!

My Vision?

On Friday, I got an email from Bill asking that I come to the paper tech rehearsal that night.  A paper tech rehearsal is a meeting between the director, the lighting designer, the stage manager, the producer (sometimes) and from what I learned that night, the choreographer, too. During this meeting, lighting cues are discussed while combing through the script, and sometimes other issues like set change problems.  Well, as I said before, I had no idea that I was supposed to be part of that, and I sent him a reply email that I  had made plans for Friday night.  Those ended in disaster, thanks to parking issues.  I did go to the meeting beforehand, but only could stay for an hour.  I felt like a jerk for leaving, even though they said that it was fine that I leave.

Today, Bill sat with me for a few minutes before (he’s an intense fella; see the video at the end of the post), we began our cue-to-cue session (it’s basically, setting the lights for the actors through out the show, and a lot of time is just the actor standing) and told me that next time I work on a show,  (The fact that he thinks I will do another show in this capacity is encouraging, I think)  I should think about what I wanted the “look” of the number to be.

I never really thought about that aspect of the numbers.  Because of this, I spent the rest of the day analyzing the dances of the show.  I know that I made some choices that a lot of people will stand on their soapboxes and decree as blasphemous, because I didn’t copy the original show.  Here’s a couple of examples:

Big Spender:  Bob Fosse kept the hostesses behind the bar and singing in their poses until they got to the chorus in which they would then explode with energy.  For 95% of the number, the ladies have blank expressions on their face showing their jaded disposition regarding this life.  It’s genius.  However, I wanted a more visceral and predatory in your face type of number. Watch closely, and you will see some of the things that the ladies refer throughout the show.

Something Better Than This:  When I see this number, it’s always a huge dance number, but it hardly ever has any meaning behind the steps. In the original production and the movie, the dance builds as each of the characters begins to believe their dreams and dance with glee.  To me,  the hostesses are in their situation because they either don’t have a choice or like Rosie, they go into the business just to earn some quick money, and then get comfortable with that life.  Because of this, they find it hard to leave.

Rhythm of Life: Bob Fosse almost always pokes a fun finger at religion.  In the movie, when the assistants roll up the doors to allow the congregation in, there are a few people walking and sounding like zombies.  When other people have done this number, it’s usually just about the hippie-ness of it all.  For me, I find that religion is a little crazy with a pops of logic sprinkled in for fun.  I’ve tried to show this, I hope you can see it.

I don’t want to give too much away, but I just figured that this wouldn’t be something the public would get to know.  Since that’s what this site is all about, why not give you some of my thought process.

But back to my thoughts about my vision…while the numbers are sort of what I want, but I had to simplify a lot of what I really wanted.  The changes were made for varying reasons.  So, while I am pretty satisfied with the project so far, I think once the show opens I will be SOOOOOOOOOOOOO happy.  The cast has been wonderful to work with and I would love to do so again.

Speaking of people that I would love to work with again, Bill Starr is a great guy to work with.  I’ve learned quite a few things from him this go round. I worked with him back in 1995 when I played Tulsa for his version of Gypsy.  It was so much fun, but so much work.  Late nights during hell week, and would find me sleeping in the wings or the isles.  Pretty much anywhere that was flat.  Even though, it was 15 years ago, Bill is still intimidating.  And active!