Fly on the wall at “The Lady’s Not For Burning” rehearsal

This coming weekend, the cast & crew of The Lady’s Not For Burning swing into Tech.   Usually, designers, operators and crew work out the technical cues under the leadership of the stage manager on Saturday, and Sunday is the Cue-to-Cue rehearsal with actors.  “To lessen the pain”, as SM Margot Devlin says, the producers (Barbara Larose, Ellen Green) will provide lunch for everyone.

I sat in for a piece of last Saturday’s rehearsal (Jan 4), just to see how it’s going.  In a big group scene from near the beginning of the play, Thomas the ex-soldier (Chris Coculuzzi) is trying to convince the villagers that he’s murdered people and should be hanged – “What about my murders?”, he keeps asking.  Only to be continually dismissed by the town’s Mayor Tyson (Christopher Kelk):  “It will all be gone into at the proper time.”  The mayor is somewhat harried because at the same time,  a local girl, Jennet (Andrea Irwin Brown) is accused of witchcraft and turning a man into a dog.  Stage Manager Margot read in for absent actor Chris Whidden, who plays Richard, the mayor’s clerk.  [For those keeping count, there are 3 actors named Chris/Christopher in this production, plus the playwright Christopher Fry!]

I also saw a run of a scene near the end of the play, featuring the entire cast: everyone from the earlier scene – including  Carol McLennan as the Mayor’s sister Margaret;  Ryan Armstrong and Paul Cotton as her  sons; Elsbeth McCall as Alizon, the girl they both want;  and Peter Higginson as the guitar-toting* Chaplain – plus the magistrate Tappercoom (Rob Candy),  and Ian Orr having a grand ol’ time as the drunken rag & bone man Matthew Skipps.  “Aren’t you dead?” asks Thomas.  “You’ve been dead for hours.”

After the scene runs, director Jane Carnwath gave notes to the actors.  Was intrigued to notice the start of a medieval village backdrop, which scenic artist Cathy McKim (who will be creating stone, wood and stucco finishes, and of course using the “magical” colour of burnt umber) reports will be the last thing painted.

Here’s her initial sketch presented to set designer Ed Rosing – it’s from November, so things may have changed: Lady's Not For Burning bkdrop sketch     *I was curious about the guitar that the Chaplain (Peter Higginson) carried.  So I asked him about it.  Here’s his delightfully tongue-in-cheek e-mail response.

BLOGGERGAL:  Hey, do you actually play the guitar you were carrying in Lady?

PETER:   Regrettably, no – I don’t play guitar – though that prop I might be able to manage as a percussion tool as it has no strings!! The Chaplain can only play religious dirges with any accomplishment and, I am assured, will never have to pluck or bow the strings on stage – the paucity of his (my) talent will be represented by discordant sounds through the magic of those that deal with the complexities of producing the audio fabric for this mysterious but magical play – but also, please note, the instrument is more likely to resemble a viola than a guitar.

Audiences will have the opportunity to see the whole thing come together on Alumnae Theatre’s Mainstage as of January 24, where it runs to February 8.  Tickets can be purchased online via our website www.alumnaetheatre.com, or you can reserve seats by phone (416-364-4170 xtn 1) or email  reservations@alumnaetheatre.com and pay cash on arrival.  Showtimes:  8pm Wed – Sat; 2pm Sun.  Tickets are $20 Thu – Sat; 2-for-1 on Wednesdays; and PWYC for Sunday matinees.  No service charge on cash sales at Box Office.  Feeling spontaneous?  Spin by the T.O. Tix booth in Yonge/Dundas Square on a Thursday, Friday or Saturday, and pick up half-price same-day tickets (+ service charge).

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Filed under 2013/14 Season, The Lady's Not For Burning

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