So we had our first rehearsal in the theatre last night. That's always such a weird night, though I'm not exactly sure why. Even when the dimensions are exactly what they were in the rehearsal hall, even when there aren't giant set pieces that change the logistics of things, even when you'd think nothing would really be different, it's still always weird. It's that way with almost every show.
Still, all in all, the cast did a good run-through last night. We ran through all the set changes first -- every set piece is on wheels and they all move at some point. But god bless this cast for never being impatient or difficult.
One weird thing is that we're not on a physical stage -- the playing space is the floor of the blackbox, and the audience is on risers. What that means is that until we get the mic stands to delineate the front edge of the playing space, it's very difficult for the actors to always notice the little blue taped X's, and they keep coming too far forward (which in a few days will mean out of the light). I spent a lot of time last night standing on the audience risers frantically gesturing at the actors to move back into the "light."
It really is fun to be working on the real set at last. Jeff has gleefully taken ownership of "his store." He already looks so comfortable hanging out at "his counter," reshelving albums, moving through the store. Even though it's not a naturalistic set, it really does wonders for the actors to have the set to work on now.
There are still things to adjust. For instance... The set piece configuration for Rob's apartment just didn't look right the way we were planning it. So after rehearsal, Trish and Kimi and I played around with the set pieces and eventually found a really good look for the apartment that I don't think will change any of the blocking. (We'll see tonight...)
That first night in the space is always hard for me. The actors are struggling to find their bearings in this new environment and so the show is never quite as smooth as it was the previous rehearsal. The focus temporarily moves away from character, relationships, and emotion; and it changes to just getting around the set without tripping. Which means I have to be patient and let that night just be what it is -- time to adjust. Especially when we only have a week in the space before opening (usually we have two weeks), it's scary to me that the show isn't perfect that night. But rationally I know that that's just the way it is, and everything will be fine later.
In fact, a lot of these last two weeks will be spent with my fear and my brain battling each other. Every show feels at some point like it might not come together, but my brain knows that this one is so strong (as are most of our shows) that it will come together beautifully. They always do.
It really is incredibly hard making theatre, and even harder making musical theatre. I don't think most people truly understand the complexity of what we do. But I'm working with some of the best performers there are, and I know they'll all be wonderful. Stay tuned...
Long Live the Musical!