It’s crunch time, folks! The show opens this Friday – yes, the 13th. In the past 6 days, we have spent 3 evenings (Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday) at the theatre, plus all day Saturday, and the first half of Sunday. And that’s just the actors, director and stage manager. I heard that director Jane Carnwath and stage manager Margot Devlin were also there for much of Friday, re-doing some lighting cues with designer Ed Rosing.
Choreographer Jen Johnson polished the opera dance scene on Tuesday night, and we dancers (I use that term very loosely in my case) were gratified to earn applause from the rest of the cast who were sitting in the audience. It’s such a moment of freedom for those of us playing the asylum inmates. Jen suggested that for Ruth, I channel Jodie Foster in her role as wild-child Nell from the movie of the same name. Mike Vitorovich (ringleader Roy), does a balletic jeté across the stage, in an explosion of “we did it!” kind of feeling. And then the disco ball comes on – wow. Bubbles on the ceiling = magic!
On Wednesday night we worked two complicated scenes: Act I scene 4 – when Nick (Ryan Kotak) takes over Lewis’ (Jamieson Child) rehearsal with the patients, with unexpected results, and Act II scene 1 – which begins with simulated shock treatment and ends with what director Jane Carnwath refers to as “dancing in the dark”.
On Thursday, we did another run of the whole play, but not in costume. During the notes session afterwards, the actors were sitting in the house as Jane perched on the edge of the stage. Margot was busily clearing the stage of discarded props, and setting the backstage area in readiness for the next rehearsal on Saturday. Jane had given notes nearly to the end of Act I, when suddenly the lights went out. James Warner (Zac) immediately blurted his line from the similar blackout during the play: “Let’s have an orgy!” I chimed in with Ruth’s line “Doug! It’s Doug! Lewis, it’s Doug!” Margot popped her head out from backstage (where the switches for ‘work’ lights are located, I’m just saying) and said innocently, “Oh, I thought you were done.” A little stage management humour?
Saturday’s rehearsal concentrated first on scene changes – who does what, who takes off (or brings on) which props, etc. We also did an Italian – or was that Greek? – run of the play. “Italian” means picking up cues (leaving no dead space between lines) so everything moves at a faster clip. Lines can be spoken quickly with no intention or emotion, and often without accompanying movements or blocking. “Greek” or “Walking Italian” means picking up cues, but lines are spoken with intention and performed with the appropriate movements and blocking. Fights (and in this case, also singing and dancing) are performed at regular speed. Running at the accelerated speed knocked about 20 minutes off Act I, and 15 minutes off Act II!
Sunday (10 am – 1:45 pm) we did a fight rehearsal with fight captain PJ Hammond (Cherry), and a warm-up with assistant director Seema Lakhani. Sound designer Rick Jones was on hand to tweak some sound levels, and set/lighting designer Ed Rosing sat in to check on the lighting. We did a full run in costume. Overall, it went pretty well, despite a few technical glitches and some actor error resulting in missed entrances. Note to self: you do NOT have time to go back to the dressing room if you forgot to bring up your other costume for the quick-change! I stranded Mike (Roy) and Laura Vincent (Julie) onstage repeating variations of their lines when I did not appear on cue. Sorry, guys! My quick- change costume will now be hung backstage.
The next couple of rehearsals (Tuesday and Wednesday) will be tech runs, then we’ll have our first real audience on Thursday for an invitation-only FREE preview. If you hear about this, you can come! No reservation necessary; just show up at Alumnae Theatre by 7:45 pm. Please note that the lobby is likely to be crowded – Così is on the Main Stage, but that same night – Thursday 12th – is the opening night for rental company Panfish Productions’ The Melville Boys, running in Alumnae’s Studio space until April 28th. See http://panfishproductions.ca/