“Civil War Voices” to Play on Sept 28 at Omaha Community Playhouse

Staged Reading | Howard Drew Theatre
Written by James R Harris | Music by Mark Hayes | Directed by Jeff Horger

Civil War Voices is a collection of compelling and passionate true stories of real individuals who lived through the Civil War, often using the actual words they left behind in diaries, letters and other writings. This is a creative presentation of the history of the Civil War with chilling stories of battle and death, injustices and hope for the future, all intertwined with songs of that time period. Appropriate for all audiences.

Location:  Omaha Community Playhouse (6915 Cass St in Omaha, NE)

Date & Time:  Monday, September 28 at 7:30pm

The performance is free.

Cast

Lauren Anderson: Second Master, Confederate Woman
Chris Elston: Abraham Lincoln
Peggy A Holloway: Fire-Eater #1, St. Louis Woman
Stacy Hopkins: Narrator’s Father, Cook
Megan Ingram: Harriet Perry
Frank Insolera Jr.: Sgt. George Buck
Angela Jenson-Fey: Cornelia Harris
Emma Johnson: Governor Washburn, General Lee, Celebrant #2
Zach Kloppenborg: Theo Perry
Julie Livingston: Mrs. Jefferson Davis, Old Mistress, Confederate Medic
Emily Mokrycki: Mary Todd Lincoln
Camille Metoyer Moten: Elizabeth Keckley
Bridget Mueting: Stage Directions
Brian Priesman: Narrator/Joe Harris
Tony Schik: First Master, Union General, Confederate Officer
Ryann Woods: Keckley’s Mother, General Hunt, Celebrant #1
Mark Thornburg: Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain

Gknow Gnit Gnicely Gnails It

Who am I?

It’s such a simple question, yet it has haunted some individuals for the entirety of their lives.  The search for self is a profound quest and this is the plot of the dramedy, Gnit, an impressive jewel of a play currently playing at the Blue Barn Theatre.

Will Eno’s modern day mistelling of Henrik Ibsen’s Peer Gynt is at times funny, heartbreaking, and deeply insightful.  The play, itself, is very stream of consciousness.  Events seem to happen for no rhyme or reason.  Yet it all, somehow, holds together and provides for a most illuminating night of theatre.  Credit for this goes to the ensemble cast, each of whom is universally up to the challenge of this esoteric and arduous play and the superlative directing of Susan Clement-Toberer.

Matthew Pyle gives a virtuoso performance as Peter Gnit.  Gnit is a thoroughly and utterly worthless human being obsessed with discovering his true and real self.  He is selfish, arrogant, manipulative, clueless, and a coward.  Despite the fact that you should hate this guy, Pyle imbues Gnit with a certain likability that makes you hope that he finally gets it, especially at the moments where Gnit shows his humanity.  Pyle’s delivery is beautifully simple and straightforward which serves to make Gnit so very real.  He could be any one of us and this is most telling towards the end of the play when Pyle’s Gnit tells the audience that he hates us.  Is it because we get it or because we’re not so different from him?

The other performers all play multiple roles, but each has a featured character that really stands out.

For Stacie Lamb, it is her performance as Gnit’s mother.  She’s elderly, sick, crotchety as all get out, and doesn’t trust her son as far as she could throw him.  She quite clearly loves him in spite of the fact that Gnit is a constant source of trouble for her, resulting in her having to pay for his sins.  Act I’s closing scene between Lamb’s mother and Pyle’s Gnit is guaranteed to make you shed a tear.

Jonathan Purcell is incredibly amusing as Town.  Yes, Purcell literally plays an entire town, effortlessly, and schizophrenically, jumping from character to character with every sentence.  A role like this could so easily be played over the top, yet Purcell always manages to play the reality of the situation which permits him to maximize this unique character’s potential and garner innumerable laughs.

Sarah Carlson-Brown plays Solvay, the love of Gnit’s life, and, quite possibly, the key to Gnit’s discovery of his true and real self.  Carlson-Brown brings a confident sweetness to this character.  Her Solvay isn’t waiting around pining for Gnit.  Assuredly believing that Gnit will one day return to her, she is busy living her life in the interim through giving.  Caring for the house Gnit built and creating a bird sanctuary.

Bill Grennan demonstrates his incredible versatility once more with a comedic turn as The Middle/The Sphinx and a more dramatic turn as the Pale Man.  The Middle/The Sphinx is a (mostly) unseen character.  Serving as a conscience of sorts to Gnit, Grennan, using nothing more than the power of his voice, crafts a smartly humorous character determined to point Gnit in the right direction, but is frustrated by Gnit’s obliviousness.

As the Pale Man, Grennan provides a darkly mysterious character out to test Gnit’s “lack of integrity”.  Once his true identity is revealed, you begin to understand the real internal strength of this persona.

Katlynn Yost’s characters are routinely victimized by Gnit.  From a bride being kidnapped and deflowered by Gnit on her wedding day, to playing some groupies snubbed by Gnit, to transforming into an odd, witchlike, “realtoress” impregnated by Gnit, Yost deftly creates one unique characterization after another.  However, it is also implied that her “realtoress” ultimately gets the best of Gnit by cursing him to never find his true self.

“Who’s next?” challenges Gnit at the end of the play.  “Is it you?  You?  Or you?”  Do we know who we are?  Do we even know what it means to live?  And in that pursuit of self, are we merely takers or givers?  How you view Gnit after the play ends will go a long way towards answering those questions.

Gnit continues at the Blue Barn Theatre until March 16.  Performances are Thurs-Sat at 7:30 and Sundays at 2pm.  An additional 6pm showing will be shown on Sunday, March 16.  There are no performances on Feb 23 and Mar 13-15.  Tickets are $25 for general admission and $20 for students, Seniors (65+), and TAG members.  For reservations, call 402-345-1576.  The Blue Barn is located at 614 S 11th St in Omaha, NE.

Overcoming Rejection (Now with Bonus Material)

AUTHOR’S NOTE:  For those of you wondering how my audition went, I am sorry to report that I did not get cast in Boeing, Boeing.  A year ago, I would have really taken this defeat to heart, but thanks to Leaving Iowa, that is no longer the case.  My only real regret is that I missed out on my final chance to work with Carl Beck.  But I would like to take a moment to thank him for the opportunities he gave me in my early days when I was. . .less than good ;).  I wrote the following article shortly before my casting in Leaving Iowa about a year ago and thought it would be good for any actors who read my blog who may be having their own struggles with theatre.

Auditions.  I think that word has the same effect on actors the way crosses affect vampires.  Yet all performers must endure them in order to be able to do a show.

Personally, I don’t mind auditions as I view it as the one brief moment where I can showcase my craft.  It’s the aftermath of the audition that can be depressing when I meet the dreaded beast known as REJECTION.

What is so peculiar about the audition process is that an actor actually has very little control over it.  The only control an actor has is over his or her acting, singing, and dancing and that actually counts for very little in getting cast.  Uncontrollable factors such as weight, sound, look, chemistry, director’s vision,  and other items play a much greater role in getting cast.  It will NEVER be purely about talent.

I learned that lesson in the most brutal way imaginable.  A short time into my career, my dream show, The Elephant Man, was going to be produced.  I prepared like I had never prepared before.  By the time I walked into the audition, I was thinking, speaking, and being John Merrick.  And it was a fabulous audition.  In fact, I rank my read as Merrick, as my absolute finest.  Three weeks later I received notification that I was not cast in the show and to say I was crushed would be the understatement of a lifetime.  I was CRRRRUSHHHEDDDD!!!!!!  Imagine how flabbergasted I was to later discover that the reason I wasn’t cast was because the director thought I had worked too hard on the role.  That was how I learned about the power of uncontrollable factors.

I have been in this business for nearly 18 years and after all this time I still get terribly disappointed when I do not get cast in a show.  As actors, we put ourselves on the line and lay bare our souls for judgment in the hopes that our talent, in conjunction with those uncontrollable factors, is enough to land roles.  If I didn’t feel bad about not getting cast, I would think I wasn’t caring enough.

There are only 2 types of auditions that do not bother me when I don’t get cast.  The first is if I simply didn’t do a good job.  If I had a poor audition, I have nothing to feel bad about because I know I didn’t present myself in my best light.  I have a “Darn it!” moment and move on to the next audition.  The other type is if I know I was simply outclassed on that particular audition.  Nearly two years ago, I auditioned for a show called Becky’s New Car and I had a really great audition.  I was proud of it.  But there was another gent there whose audition was clearly superior to mine.  When he was done reading, I wanted to stand up and say, “We have a winner!!  Give him the role.”

After many years of hard work, I have evolved into a decent actor so those types of auditions occur very infrequently today.  Most of my defeats in recent years have occurred simply because of factors outside of my control.  And it is very humbling to know you have done good work and to not have that work rewarded.  The only blow more difficult is to know you did not have a chance to show your absolute best and that blow is downright devastating.

With very rare exceptions, I go into every audition thoroughly prepared.  By that I mean, I’ve read the play, selected the characters I’ve liked, and put some practice into those roles so I can be seen in the best possible light.  Back in 2008, I auditioned for Twelve Angry Men and I dutifully prepared the role of Juror 8 (played by Henry Fonda in the film version).  I was in the first group called up and I was asked to read the role of Juror 2 (played by John Fiedler in the film) for that scene.  Juror 2 had 3 very short sentences in that scene, so all I could really do was listen to the others as a very nervous man would.  After several more rounds with other actors, the director said she would start dismissing people and I was the first person eliminated.  I was stunned, but refused to go down without a fight.  I asked if I could read for Juror 8 and the director thought for a moment before looking at me and saying, “I don’t see you as Juror 8.”  I felt like I had just been punched in the gut with a gauntlet.  Losing is one thing, but to lose without being able to go down swinging is another.

I share these anecdotes with you so you know that rejection happens to every actor.  It’s a guarantee. It’s also OK to feel bad about being rejected.  It’s natural.  It’s understandable.  Just remember to keep it in perspective.

Remember that being rejected is not personal.  A director never feels good about making an actor feel bad and he or she does not WANT to make an actor feel bad.  Heck, the directors in my first and third anecdotes went out of their way to console me after I swallowed the bitter pills.  Neither one was saying I was a bad actor.  All they were really saying was that I just didn’t suit their vision of the characters.  A director sees the whole of a show and makes casting decisions to ensure the artistic integrity of the project.  Those decisions are impersonal and you should never take a rejection as a slight on your talent.  One rejection or a string of rejections does not mean you are not a well rounded performer.  All a rejection means is that you didn’t suit the particular needs of that particular director for that particular project.  And remember casting is very, very hard.  I just assisted with the biggest audition in Omaha history.  350 people showed up to audition for Les Miserables.  Regrettably, 300+ talented people aren’t going to make it in and that will not be a reflection on their abilities.

Recently, I read a wonderful article on handling audition rejection and that is what inspired me to write this article.  The author pointed out that after a bad audition experience, NEVER DWELL ON THE NEGATIVES.  Consider them in terms of improvement for the next audition, but do not DWELL on them.  Instead, FOCUS on the things that went well for you and remember them in terms of good solid audition technique as well as the strengths you possess as a performer.

Most importantly, NEVER DEFINE YOURSELF BY THE AUDITION.  Just because your unique styles and strengths weren’t needed for this particular project doesn’t mean they won’t be vital for the next project.

ALWAYS BELIEVE IN YOUR TALENT.  Talent cannot be stopped.  Eventually, it does prove itself whether it takes 8 auditions or 800 auditions.

COMING SOON:  I will be returning to Las Vegas for another series of stories in March.  I will also be reviewing the Prairie Creek Bed and Breakfast in a little under two weeks.  In the meantime, if you need a fix of traveling stories, please visit my brother’s travel blog at http://thatoneguywhotravels.wordpress.com.

It No Longer Matters

I’ve just come home from my first audition in nearly a year and I can safely say that a new era in theatre has begun for it no longer matters.

Mind you, that’s not a negative statement.  This has actually been the moment I’ve been fighting to reach for years.  The moment where I could enjoy theatre in its fullest.  The moment where getting cast was no longer a dire necessity.  The moment where winning and losing no longer matter.

Don’t get me wrong.  I still hope to do as much theatre as I can handle, but I’m no longer going to be devastated if I don’t get cast.  The Miracle Show aka Leaving Iowa has forever transformed my outlook on theatre.

I auditioned for the Omaha Playhouse’s production of Boeing, Boeing under the direction of Carl Beck in his final solo directing project.  (He’ll co-direct Young Frankenstein:  The Musical with Susie Baer-Collins as their swan song as both are retiring at the end of the season).  The thrust of the play focuses on Bernard, an American architect living in Paris and his old friend, Robert.  Bernard is engaged to 3 airline hostesses who all fly different airlines and routes which is how he’s able to juggle the three relationships.  Robert’s arrival to visit Bernard coincides with the airlines beginning to use the much faster Boeing airplane which now means that all of Bernard’s fiancées are going to be at his home at the same time and hilarity ensues.

It was a fairly good crowd with 17 people showing up to audition.  It was certainly a fine “Welcome Back” to the theatre world as I found myself facing some very heavy hitters on the community theatre circuit.  Among them were:

Nick Zadina, a versatile performer who can handle comedy and drama with equal aplomb

Anthony Clark-Kaczmarek, a top notch comedic actor who is highly experienced in farce

Monty Eich, a talented funnyman and a founding member of the Weisenheimers, an Omaha improv troupe

I was honored to be able to test myself against these guys and I’m proud to say that I was more than up to the task of holding my own with them.  It became quite clear early on, that the 4 of us were the frontrunners along with another young man whom I’d never seen before.  He was a little slow getting out of the gate, but once he got going, he gave a pretty impressive audition and I hope to see him continue in theatre.

The five of us were the only people who were called up to read multiple times and none of us were able to really gain an advantage on the others.  At one point or another we all shined, so it’s really going to boil down to who comes to the second round tomorrow and the uncontrollable factors that Carl needs for these characters.  Although, he hasn’t done it the last few times I’ve auditioned for him, there is a possibility that callbacks may be needed.  I really wish there was more flexibility in the casting because all of us would fill the roles nicely.

I was particularly pleased with my two takes as I made Bernard slightly prickish and I made Robert a timid, Nervous Nelly.  I felt good, relaxed, and at peace and I believe those qualities communicated themselves.  More importantly, I didn’t treat the audition like a competition.  I was able to sit back and really appreciate the work the other performers were doing. 

Honestly, I felt a bit like a director myself, as I started piecing together who might work well where and with whom.  It was interesting seeing the whole for the first time and trying to put the puzzle pieces together to come up with the ideal cast.  It truly is a difficult process.

For the first time in years, I’m going to sleep peacefully without concerns of whether I get cast or not.  If I do, great, I look forward to the adventure.  If not, it isn’t the end of the world.  There will always be another show.  I now know who I am as an actor and the peace of mind that comes with that is a far greater prize than all the future roles I’ll earn.  And that is why. . .

It no longer matters.

 

 

Double Bill Christmas Show Provides Mixed Bag of Gifts

In one night, you’ll get the gamut of Christmas with a story about the birth of Christ and a story about jolly old St. Nick in the Circle Theater’s productions of Waiting for Gordy and Bang!  Zoom!  To the Moon!

The night opens with Doug Marr’s brief one act play, Waiting for Gordy.  This is a very sentimental, sweet, holiday take on Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot.  Two men, Earl and Vic, have been waiting on the steps several times a week for 4 weeks waiting for Gordy to come and tell them when it’s time to leave.  During their conversation, a star appears and we get a modern take on the birth of the Savior.

As Earl, David Sindelar gives a remarkable, beautifully underplayed performance.  With a serene, confident delivery, Sindelar’s Earl exudes a warm assurance that Gordy will, in fact, come.  He is quite clearly the rock in his friendship with Vic, gently persuading him to wait with him for the mysterious Gordy.

Matt Allen’s Vic provides a fine foil to Sindelar’s solid Earl.  Far more animated, sensitive, and a tad scatterbrained, Allen’s Vic comes off as very childlike.  He’s impatient, forgets what they’re waiting for, and takes offense at perceived slights.  Yet that slightly vinegary interpretation provides a needed dynamic with Sindelar’s sweetness.

Combined, these 2 characters are the everyman.  The faith and the doubt.  And the work of these 2 fine actors made for one of the most moving stories I’ve seen in many a moon.  The play may seem static as neither actor moves much, but that is absolutely critical for this tale as it’s truly about what they say and not what they do.

From there, it was on to the featured play, Bang!  Zoom!  To the Moon! written by David Sindelar.

In this story, it’s Christmastime again, and Santa is getting ready to deliver presents.  However, when his GPS system is broken by a klutzy elf, Santa ends up on the moon where he is held captive by the Moonians who are upset that their Christmas wishes have long been ignored.  It takes the help of Santa’s witchy (literally) wife, daughter, elves, and inventor to save Father Christmas and preserve Christmas for Earth.

Sindelar’s script is full of zingy one liners and is a cohesive, well planned story with some amusing bits.  One of the more entertaining moments is that the moon is so barren that the Moonians don’t even have a proper cell to hold Santa.  They have a cell door which they force Santa to carry around which provides for some good, physical comedy.

Real life mother and daughter, Stephanie Anderson and Stella Ehrhart, play the Moonians, Difray and Angon.  Anderson, in particular, is a hoot with alien, staccato speech patterns, robotlike movements, and a monotone laugh.  Yet, she also is able to mine the role for some sympathy with her sad tale about Santa never granting any of her Christmas wishes.  Ehrhart manages to match her mother for delivery and humor, especially with her attempts at trying to hijack this tale with a telling of Zippy, the Christmas Narwahl, though at times she slips out of her Moonian accent and does not cheat out enough to the audience.

Sarah Ervin nearly steals the show as Oopzit.  Oopzit means well, but she is an unintentional force of nature that breaks everything she touches and constantly injures herself.  Displaying an excellent sense of timing and physicality, Ervin is an absolute scream as the klutzy elf as she politely swears (Cheese and rice!!) and flops around the stage.  Adding to the realism of this character is the fact that Oopzit is noticeably more banged up each time she appears on stage.

Dylan Marr gives an exceptional performance as Quinn, Santa’s absent-minded genius inventor.  With good use of voice and body language, Marr’s Quinn has genius and uncertainty all rolled into one and makes for some delightful moments.

Laura Marr and Matt Allen play Weeble, Santa’s chief elf, and Gunar, Santa’s inept #2 and reindeer wrangler.  Laura’s Weeble is tough as nails and always ready to take charge.  Her inability to call a GPS by its proper initials is the best running gag in the show.  Allen’s Gunar is a lisping, cowardly buffoon, though he does have toughness when the chips are down.  Allen’s performance needed to be reined in as he was a bit too over the top for the show and his awkward gestures and poses often distracted from the show.

Another real life mother and daughter team, Christa and Katya Reason, played Santa’s wife, Driselda, and his daughter, Lisbeth.  These two are witches and Driselda handles the magic side of Santa’s operation while Lisbeth just wants to learn more spells from her mom who is too busy to teach her.  Christa Reason’s Driselda is a bit ill tempered, easily frustrated, and slightly arrogant.  But underneath beats a heart of gold and a person who can admit her mistakes.  Katya Reason’s performance as Lisbeth is a little rough around the edges.  She needs to be a bit more animated and broke character on a few occasions, but still had a nice, bratty charm.

As Santa, David Sindelar plays the straight man of this group of loons and does it very well.  Santa is clearly the boss of the operation as proven when he orders a mandatory Hawaiian casual week when the others at Santa’s Workshop laugh at the only garments he has left after Oopzit destroyed his wardrobe.  But being the kind soul that he is, Sindelar also shows a warm heart and loving nature with this character as he listens to the plight of the Moonians and vows to do better by them.

Waiting for Gordy and Bang!  Zoom!  To the Moon!  runs through December 21 at the Circle Theatre.  The show begins at 8pm with an optional dinner starting at 7pm.  Performance days are Thurs-Sat with one matinee performance at 2pm (lunch at 1pm) on December 15.  Ticket prices are $25 for dinner and show for adults, $23 for seniors, $20 for students, and $16 for children.  For just the show, prices are $15 for adults, $13 for seniors, $8 for children, and $10 for active military and TAG members.  Reservations can be made at 402-553-4715.  The Circle Theater is located at 726 S 55th St, Omaha, NE  68106 in the basement of Central Presbyterian Church.

Come Forth and Know Him: Flawless “Jacob Marley” Esoterically Entertains and Enlightens

The Blue Barn Theatre has mounted what is sure to be an awards season darling with their Christmas show, Jacob Marley’s Christmas Carol.  This play is storytelling at its finest.  At times uproariously hilarious, while heartbreakingly dramatic at others, this wonderful play tells the story of Jacob Marley’s redemption.

Having recently died and gone to hell, Jacob Marley is given one chance at saving his soul from eternal damnation if he is able to convince his old partner, Ebenezer Scrooge, to have “a complete and willing change of heart” in 24 hours.  He is aided in his task by a mischievous sprite known as the Bogle, who has stakes of his own riding on Marley’s success. 

Nils Haaland gives a sensational performance as Jacob Marley.  As the show’s central character and narrator, Haaland is often called upon to paint intricate pictures with nothing more than his words so the audience can “see” the action of the story and Haaland is more than up to the challenge.  With shifts of body and inflection, Haaland makes you feel the agony of being weighed down by heavy chains, the utter despair of damnation, and the loneliness of a little boy who lost his mother and was despised by his alcoholic father.  Yet, on the turn of a dime, Haaland becomes the endearing (and very Cockney) Ghost of Christmas Past and the larger than life Ghost of Christmas Present.  Haaland’s versatility at comedy and drama makes for a performance that is a Christmas gift for all.

As the Bogle, Bill Grennan proves himself the equal of Haaland’s Marley.  Grennan brings a terrific physicality to this role as he glides about the stage and seems to possess an energy that his body can barely contain.  Grennan’s knack for comedy allows him to easily spout off insults and witticisms, yet he also demonstrates some impressive dramatic depth as his relationship with Marley thaws throughout the course of the show.  Grennan does a fabulous job peeling off the crusty layers of the Bogle to reveal a great heart.  Be certain to watch Grennan during the Bogle’s silent moments as he reacts to the events going on around him.  His expressions tell more of a story than words ever could.

Kevin Barratt’s Scrooge would make Dickens proud.  This is Scrooge as he should be:  malignant, repugnant, grasping, greedy, and almost utterly beyond redemption.  He is truly one to be feared.  But Barratt is just as convincing showing the redemption of Scrooge.  He gives Scrooge flashes of likability and humanity as he slowly changes his heart and cuts a very pitiable figure when Scrooge thinks all is lost at the hands of the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come.  When he finally manages to redeem himself, you’ll want to give a cheer as well.

While all the actors play multiple roles, Scott Working has his work cut out for him by playing the most roles.  However, he makes it look easy as he jumps from the mysterious Record Keeper, to the put upon Bob Cratchit, to the bullying Dick Wilkins.  Working’s chameleon like transformations and performances were truly a highlight of the evening.

The story is further enhanced by a simple set (designed by Martin Scott Marchitto) that consists of a giant chain, exceptional lighting design by Bill Van Deest, and a soundtrack that supports key moments in the show.

Kevin Lawler’s direction is nothing short of a masterpiece as he has crafted a story with pitch perfect pacing, virtuoso performances, and effects that improve as opposed to distract from the show.

Jacob Marley’s Christmas Carol  runs through December 22 at the Blue Barn Theatre located at 614 S 11th St in Omaha, Nebraska.  Showtimes are 7:30pm Thursday-Saturday and 6pm on Sundays.  (Note:  There is no show on December 5th, but an extra showing will be held at 2pm on December 15).  Ticket prices are $25 for adults and $20 for students, seniors (65+), and TAG members.  Reservations can be made at 402-345-1576.  Tickets are going fast.  The 6pm December 15 show and the December 13 show are sold out.

 

The Last Night

And so my road has reached its end with the magnificent Marley men.  Friday was my last day assisting with Jacob Marley’s Christmas Carol and it was a little melancholy.  I’d truly enjoyed watching the cast grow during my three week run being their safety net, line noter, and jack of all trades.  The past week had been the most impressive as they were now much more comfortable with their lines and were starting to imbue their work with some serious acting.

Friday actually marked the beginning of tech rehearsals for the show.  These account for the slowest and longest days for the cast and crew.  Traditionally, techs are a 2 day event.  Saturday is what is known as the dry tech where the lights and sounds are set up without benefit of the actors.  The next day is known as Tech Sunday and it is a very, very long day.

The cast and crew will start early in the day with what is known as a cue to cue rehearsal.  What that means is that the cast will give the line(s) that lead into the light and sound cues where adjustments are constantly made.  It’s very slow, stop and go work.  Depending on the nature of the show, it can be brutally long.  For example, when I did Dracula, we started Tech Sunday at 2pm and we called it a night at 2am without the technical work being completed.

“Marley” isn’t a very long show, but it’s technically difficult as it has numerous light and sound cues.  After 3.5 hours of work on Friday, the show still had about 50 light cues that needed to be mapped.  Those would be finished at Saturday’s dry tech and fine tuned on Sunday’s cue to cue rehearsal.

After the cue to cue ends, the cast and crew normally break for an hour to have a meal.  They then come back and run a full tech rehearsal which means doing the entire show with lines, sound, and lights.  On Monday, costumes get added to the mix and that continues until opening night.

Once the tech work started, I knew that my particular skills would no longer be needed.  The actors have to arrive early and get costumed, so no line running.  Once tech starts, actors can no longer call for lines and they no longer get line notes.  Also, I wanted to save a little bit of theatre magic for myself for opening night as I neither know all of the light cues nor any of the sound cues. 

I also know that the show will morph even more during the week.  Once teching begins, layers start being added to the show which helps aid the acting.  Lights add one layer.  Sound another.  Costumes add yet a third.  The most important layer is that of the audience.  After countless rehearsals, a show desperately needs the x factor of an audience to fuel the performances.  The addition of the audience adds something that defies description.  Often, it spurs the actors to new discoveries and makes a good show great and a great show mind blowing.

When I announced my departure on Friday, I was amazed and touched by Kevin’s response of “Really?”  Even though I wasn’t performing, I was just as much a part of this show as the cast and crew and Kevin’s disappointment at my leaving really made me feel that.  I shook his hand, told him it had been a pleasure, and he asked me if it really had been a pleasure.

It surely was.  His concern was probably that I had a lot of sitting around time.  And I did, but it was also a chance for me to sit under the learning tree.  With the way my mind had been opened by Leaving Iowa, I now saw and heard so much more than I once did.

This time around, I saw and heard beats, which I may have missed before and it added such an extra dimension to the experience as well as percolate ideas in my own head.  It got my own performance juices flowing and I really wish I could have been on stage with these guys and share this remarkable story with them.

I told Kevin I looked forward to my next audition with him and he replied, “Likewise”, though he said it may be about 5 or 6 years before he directs again.  (He’s getting ready to become a father.)  I know not what the future may bring, but, hopefully, I will get another opportunity to work with him.  For that matter, I hope to get a chance to work with these gifted storytellers on the other side of the stage one day.  As it was, I shared a round of hearty handshakes with my comrades, old and new, and faded into the evening with a promise to return on opening night.

As I wait for that magical eve, I’ve started reviewing a few scripts so the future may hold a new story for me and perhaps sooner than anyone suspects. . .