I have now officially gotten through the most difficult rehearsal -- the Stizprobe.
For those who don't work in musical theatre, the Sitzprobe (I hate that word but everybody uses it) is a rehearsal in which we just run the score with the band for the first time. No dialogue unless there's music under it. It may not sound like that difficult a process, but it really is. We get just four hours to run every number, correct problems, warn the band about pitfalls and surprises, small cuts, etc. It's the only time we get to focus exclusively on the band, and as with most of our shows, the band has a very challenging score to navigate.
The Sitzprobe rehearsal yesterday actually went okay. It's always a thrill for the actors to hear the whole band -- and we have very good musicians -- particularly when we're doing a rock/pop show. But it stresses me the hell out. It's an incredible amount of work to get done in only four hours. Plus, the less experienced actors don't always have the discipline to be patient and quiet while we work out various problems. Which means that while I'm talking to the musicians, figuring out cues, entrances, tempos, etc., I have to keep turning around to (a few of) the actors and asking them to be quiet so we can work. It was even worse yesterday because we have four stand mics in front of the stage, so whenever the actors were chit-chatting, it was coming through the mics and into the band monitor, making it very hard to have a conversation with the band.
So I'd ask them to be quiet. Then ten minutes later, I'd ask them more loudly. Then ten minutes later, I'd bark at them to be quiet. And finally, I'd compare them to Second Graders and throw in a "Jesus Christ!" for emphasis. I don't usually get to that last level at Sitzprobe, but I did yesterday. And now they all think I'm a Cranky Son of a Bitch.
Which I totally was yesterday.
But we got through the score (barely in time) and the musicians are in pretty good shape. I think we tackled all the bigger potential probs and we have three more nights to fine tune. But it really was one of the more stressful Sitzprobes we've had in a long time. Ugh. But I gotta give a shout-out to Steve Massey, our sound guy, who always solves every mic problem and never seems to get the slightest bit flustered; and to Chris Petersen, our pianist, who went four straight hours yesterday without a cigarette, god bless him...
Then later, Kimi and I drove out to Maryland Heights to pick up 300 LPs from Michael Dorrin, a former co-worker of Matt Korinko's, to dress the set. It was the last thing I wanted to do last night, but a record store's gotta have some records, am I right?
Buddha willing, the rest of the week will go much more smoothly than yesterday did, and I will be much less stressed out. I think our show's in pretty good shape, but now this week all the various elements come together, and it's a hell of a ride for the actors from here till opening.
I'll keep you posted.
Long Live the Musical!