The Home Stretch...
We move into the theatre tomorrow, and since it's not our usual "home" (we've been nomadic the past year) there will be lots of things to figure out about the new space, how to power the band, how much room the audience risers will take up, what Trish's view from the booth will be like, etc. And we'll have actual set pieces for the first time -- and since every set piece is on wheels, we'll now have a whole new element to deal with...
Now we start adding distractions. We've been working on the show in a kind of bubble, and everything will change in the next two weeks before we open. I'll be giving up piano duty Monday to Chris Petersen, our resident show pianist. The differences between how I play the score and how he plays it will be minimal, but to the actors who often listen for the tiniest musical moments for their cues, any change at all is tough. But they'll have some time to adjust to Chris and vice versa. We'll get three rehearsals to adjust to the set and to Chris.
Then next Saturday, we have our lighting cue-to-cue rehearsal, a tedious process if there ever was one, but a necessary process if you have a lighting design of any complexity or artistry. Then the next day, the band comes in and we have our first rehearsal with the band -- just a few days before opening. Again, the actors have been used to rehearsing with just piano, so hearing the whole band is thrilling, but it's also fairly disorienting. Things they used to listen for in the piano may now be coming from the lead guitar or the second keyboard or the bass... On the positive side, some musical moments that are hard often become easier once drums are there to lay down a consistent beat that may not be in the piano part...
Then, on Monday, June 9, we start what we lovingly call Hell Week. Just three nights when we add the band, lights, props, costumes, and anything else. All of a sudden, the actors have twenty new things to worry about in every scene, and only three nights to work it out. There's a reason we call it Hell Week (and a reason we have as many full run-throughs as possible before Hell Week). Then again, New Line's Hell Week usually goes awfully smoothly.
Knock on wood.
Then we preview on Thursday, June 12. We used to open on Thursday, but we decided several years ago to make that first night in front of an audience a preview, primarily so we could keep the reviewers and Kevin Kline Award judges away. The bigger theatres get several days of previews to play the show in front of an audience before Opening Night, to find the flow and energy of the piece with live responses, applause, etc. We only take one night for that, but it's important for us to have it.
And we open on Friday the 13th. Yikes!
Normally I'm a little worried at this point about whether the show will come together, whether the actors will fully understand the weird approach we're taking, all that stuff. But this time, I don't have those worries. Knock on wood again. The show is going great and everybody seems to be solidly on the same page. From now till opening, it's really just about adjusting to the new elements, fixing the minor problems we still have, and settling into the roles, songs, and the show as a whole. Now, it's about comfort and depth.
This is the really hard part and the most fun part, all rolled into one. Wheeeeeee!
Long Live the Musical!