Thanks to…

The show closed today.

This was a challenging show, but I loved the cast, top to bottom. Stellar and a lot of fun. I will miss my castmates!

When I close a show, I give a thanks to all the people I know that saw it. Bold indicates they’ve seen all of my shows, and, therefore, rock.

  • Mom and Dad
  • Missy
  • Tiff and Bill
  • Melanie
  • Bryan and Sarah
  • Bethany
  • Rita 
  • Mark
  • Ben
  • Britt

And, of course, everyone else who attended during the run, even if I didn’t know you. We wouldn’t have a show to do without an audience!

More thoughts on the show going up tomorrow.

Girls gone Celibate

Our director (who’s also the theater’s artistic director) created this page for the show–sort of a mini-site. So check out the photos and character descriptions!

(PS: I have NO IDEA where the “wanting to smack me” idea comes in. Personally, I think Angustias is way more sinned against than sinning.)

Two more performances!

“Food, Glorious Food!”

The New York Times recently ran an article about Eating and Opera, which I found interesting and instructive. I haven’t had to eat much onstage, but I do for Bernarda Alba–Act III opens with a dinner scene. Our director has concocted a rice/peas “main dish” for us to eat, and there’s also a bowl of grapes and three bottles of liquid–although those aren’t able to be drunk, since they are tough to open (as I found out during tech week). So the tumblers on the table stay empty.

I eat a few bites of rice, and try to get a few grapes. The grapes work the best since they’re liquid, essentially. The rice can be OK, but if it’s dry, then it’s not so great, because it can get stuck in the throat and cause issues (again, as I learned during the first few performances, since we didn’t have the food during tech). Some of the other actresses, though, don’t have this problem and plow through their helping. The director knows how much to give each of us by now–the food is plated during the Act II/III intermission. We also have bread and a few other things for the first act.

When I did Earnest, there was food involved–those cucumber sandwiches, and tea!–but I didn’t get to eat any of it, sadly. I’ve never had to eat as part of a musical. Even in Oliver!, “Food, Glorious Food” is mostly imaginary. 🙂 There’s no “pease pudding”, “hot sausage and mustard” or “cold jelly and custard.”

The biggest problem I’ve ever had with food is backstage–you have to be careful not to knock it over! We do eat the grapes throughout the performance–a healthy way to keep off hunger! And I was known to sneak a few sugar cubes (yes, actual sugar cubes!) during the Earnest run. (hey, it was a long show. Needed sugar.)

I think it’s fun to have the food. It definitely adds to the realism of the show. But it also has its drawbacks, in that property needs to be washed (all the plates, and cutlery) at some point, plus keeping us stocked with food. I wouldn’t mind something to drink in the dinner scene, but then you have to worry about spills on costumes, so I can definitely see why we’re not doing that.

But some “opera chicken”? Heck, I’d say yes.

Epicness

Bed! Go to bed! 

I couldn’t go to bed!

My head’s too light to try to set it down!

Sleep, go to sleep!

I couldn’t sleep tonight!

Not for all the jewels in the crown…

–“I Could’ve Danced All Night” , My Fair Lady

That’s how a super great–nay, EPIC–performance feels.  Like, what I”m feeling right now.

I have to go to bed. My alarm will be going off in a little over eight hours. But right now? Total epicness. I could, indeed, dance all night.

Audrey Hepburn, "I Could Have Danced All Night."

(And then I’d crash in the AM. That probably happened to Eliza but we just don’t see it.)

There is almost nothing I’ve experienced like the high of a good performance. Maybe when I’m with little kids and they do something cool, or when a baby says his first word in front of me, or I’m bodysurfing in the Atlantic. But those aren’t really the same thing. There is so much energy after a good performance. I feel like I could write War and Peace right now. (If Tolstoy hadn’t already done it.)

Every time I perform this show, I find something new to do, something new I understand about this character.

11 more shows to go!

Now, sadly, since my life is NOT a musical, I have to go to bed. 

“Don’t you agree now? She ought to be in bed!” 

Flying dishes, and c. –notes from the first two shows

So, the show has opened! Squee! Time for notes:

  • Opening Night, as usual, was a lot of fun. We had a group of girls from the local all-girls school and they seemed very attentive and focused, which is always good. 🙂
  • During the dinner table clear in Act III, one of the glasses rolled off the table. Inwardly cursing, I went around and got it and continued on. I was worried that you could see my annoyance, but the director said yesterday you couldn’t, and I “got an A” for the rescue of the glass. 🙂 We changed the timing a bit before last night’s show, but I think this scene is just going to “evolve” for a bit. That’s not a bad thing.
  • Performances during a long run do evolve a bit. Not to the point where blocking and timing and rhythm are changed, because then directors get mad (!), but things like intonation and inflection, and attitude of characters. I did this myself a bit last night, and I heard some of the other actresses do it, too. I think it really adds to the performance as we go deeper into these characters, and it keeps the performances alive.
  • The last Act–in particular the last scene–is just awesome in performance. So much adrenaline. It’s not so much acting as it is reacting. I just love it. 🙂

Opening night!

I really love opening night. No matter how many of them I do, they never get old. Especially when it’s a visceral show like this, where I’ve been craving audience reaction, and wondering how they would react to it, essentially ever since the table read.

It was a good crowd, with a class from a local all-girls school there. They really seemed to enjoy it. It wasn’t perfect–live theater almost never is, which is part of the thrill of it–but I don’t think they noticed. 🙂 Well, except for the “flying cup”….sigh…that’s a story for another entry. But anyway, in Act III I have to clear the dinner dishes. And one of the cups got away from me. Fortunately it stayed on the stage so I was able to just go get it and work it into the scene.

If you’re in the area, I hope you get a chance to see it. It’s a tremendous group of actresses and it’s a great script.

No redeeming qualities

That’s hard work!

So yesterday the director was talking to us, giving us some notes. To me and another actress, he said that he was enjoying our character portrayals. “They have no redeeming qualities!” he said, a bit gleeful.

I was confused. Sure, Angustias isn’t someone I’d pick to be my best friend, but she’s not horrible. She doesn’t try to steal her sister’s fiancé (Adela) or tell lies that lead to disastrous consequences (Martirio). If anything, she’s “more sinned against that sinning.”

So I mentioned this to the director, also saying that I’d been working on making her nicer–but he cut me off. “No! No! Don’t do that.”

“Um…OK?”

So: I’m really interested to see what the audience has to say about her. She’s definitely got some personality problems, but she’s not bad. She’s got three sisters that seriously dislike her (Amelia, the fourth, is mostly indifferent), a mother who is a bit, well, strict (to put it mildly), and she’s 39 years old. She’s never dated. She’s finally engaged, to a man that her sisters lust after, and she knows that he probably isn’t in this relationship for her awesome mind or body. She’s not blind.

Angustias and I have some things in common: We’re both the oldest, we both have sister(s) (I’ve got a brother and a sister), we’re both Catholic. I can understand where she’s coming from: I know people/situations that apply to my work here. Really, she wasn’t that much of a leap to create. Some of the venom and rudeness that comes form her is a bit foreign to me, but it’s also really fun to get to say what the character is (probably) thinking. Verbal sparring is a lot of fun.

Production development is also coming along–some of the set pieces are going up, and our awesome costumer has been bringing in pieces for us to try on. Tonight she had me try on a pale pink nightgown for the end of Act III, which I think worked well. I think we might all have nightgowns now. 🙂 The set isn’t very elaborate–a table, chairs, and the entryways–but once the entryways are in, it’ll make life a lot easier, because we can cement the blocking.

We open in 8 days!

 

THE END

So, today we OFFICIALLY finished blocking the entire show.

We are done!

If you’re familiar with the show and you’re coming to see ours–be warned. We did change some things, throughout, but especially in Acts I and III. Most of them are for space consideration: it’s a small theater, so we don’t have a lot of space in the  (ahem) “Wings”, or in the dressing rooms (even though that area has been doubled (an upstairs level added) since I did Earnest here last year). So we can’t have crowds of “extras” or lots of offstage space for action to occur. That’s OK. It’s still going to be a darn good show! We ran all of Act III, mostly off-bookish. Saturday we run the act off book, and then Sunday we start run throughs of the whole shebang off book. On Sunday, we also start getting our set built in! Yay! It’ll be nice to have concrete doors and to know how much space we have for certain entrances/exits.

It’s a great cast, and I think we’re putting together a quality show. It’s different, but very passionate.

Ain’t it a pretty night!

The sky’s so bright and velvet-like


–from “Ain’t It A Pretty Night?”, 
Susannah

This line from the opera Susannah echoes through my head as we run Act III. Act III is the final act of our show, and it’s an act full of metaphor and incisive images: “crown of thorns”, “fire flashing through a sky that’s been quiet”, “stars the size of fists”.  The beauty of the night is continually noted, which cues up the Susanna piece for me. (For a great recording, get Renee Fleming’s I Want Magic! CD–it’s on there.)

Final acts are where all the pieces come together: “destinies are resolved,” as Virginia Woolf might say. All the secrets are revealed, hearts are laid bare, and action is finally taken toward the climax and resolution. If Act II is where the drama builds in our show, Act III is where it resolves, using lots of poetic images and passionate speeches.

Tonight we got within four pages of finishing the play! Tomorrow I’m bringing in cupcakes as part of my (continued) b-day celebration. It fits, because the last four pages are intense. We’re gonna need some sugar.

 

I’m going to be sleeping with my script

This show is sort of frustrating for me.

Normally, I can learn lines really easily, almost effortlessly. This show–not so much.

Now, it could be because I have more lines than I’ve had in awhile. It could be the most lines I’ve ever had in a straight play. Musicals are somewhat easier, because the cast albums play on constant loop for me (car, iPod), or I’ve already memorized the lyrics many moons ago. This–no CD. No easy music or memory tricks. Just the hard slog of read, repeat, read, repeat.

Just when I think I have an act down, I find out…I don’t. Act II is the hardest act for me, because I talk the most. It’s coming. It’s probably about 90% memorized. But that other 10% is just killing me. And I feel like I’m letting everyone else down, even though I’m not the only one asking for a line.

The problem for me is that it’s not just me having a conversation with one person. It’s me having a conversation with four or five people. And of course the rhythm is always different in rehearsal then when you’re reading the script at home.

So I’m redoubling my script efforts. I might even have one of my siblings run lines with me tomorrow. 🙂

Today we ran Act II straight through (off book) and then part of Act I, which we hadn’t done in about a week. Surprisingly most of it was still there.  Next week (Monday) we start Act III. We’ve already blocked the first scene, and fortunately I have much less to do in this act than I do in any other, but it’s a complex act for some of the other actresses–big chunks of text.  I have my lines in the beginning of the act and then one line at the end. 🙂 Of course, blocking the end is going to be a bit…challenging. 🙂

So we’re totally off book for Acts I and II, and should have III by next week. Then we head into running the show. Then it’s tech week! Wow. Three weeks left until we open! (Not even that. Like two weeks and change.)

I’m going to be sleeping with my script, that’s for sure.