Sunday, December 04, 2016

Second Night of A Ghost Story

Tonight was a bit of an oddity. I don't remember the last time a first Saturday crowd was smaller, and less energetic than an opening night crowd. But that's what happened tonight.

While opening night was about 30 people in a 50 seat house, I think we had just over half of that tonight. They did laugh at times, and seemed to have enjoyed themselves, judging by their clapping at the end, but overall it felt like an average matinee, but at night.

Some of that is on us; though there were again no major mistakes that I noticed, I think near the end all of us ran out of steam a bit. We weren't by any means dead, but I think we were slower than we normally are for the end of the show.

I do think some aspects did run even more smoothly, though. Once again, not to assume we are perfect by any means, but we have worked out some of the kinks over the last two nights, even if in front of fewer people tonight.

We are in a good place for tomorrow, if we can keep the energy up; it is already a sold out house. Will having a sold out house make for even more energy to improve our performances? Or will the matinee doldrums hit us?

Saturday, December 03, 2016

An Opening Night Carol.

Opening night last night, and I have to say it was solid. Not error free, mind you, but it was disaster free. Free of gaping holes. Unless something happened that I missed while off stage somewhere.

The house holds 50 people for this show. We had about thirty last night. As is often the case for Friday opening nights, (for whatever mysterious reasons) it was a quiet crowd. There was some laughing here and there, but they were quiet during some funny moments. And though I thought we were losing them for a bit near the end of the opening, (lots of narration to open the show) overall I believe they were engaged.

There were some young children in the front row. I feared they might be restless, but for the most part, the seemed to be paying attention. If not, they were quiet about it. When Marley screamed, some of them covered their ears, but none of them cried or ran out of the building. Even an infant in the lobby was quiet the whole time.

We hit some rough spots last week and this week in rehearsing, and it's very important not to assume there will be no mistakes from here on out just because opening night was solid. But solid it was, and it always comes as a significant relief when that first show in front of people is out of the way. There's a reason why a second night is almost always better than opening night.

Truth be told, I wasn't quite as nervous as I feared I might be going into yesterday. Not sure why. Confidence in my contributions, though with humility is probably part of it. We also had a good final rehearsal the night before. (The old superstition of a good final rehearsal portending a bad opening night did not come true in this case.) But everything just seemed more casual on opening night than it is for some shows. In some ways id didn't quite feel like it was opening night. Probably having just over a month to rehearse is part of that.

I must say I felt a bit awkward at the beginning, though. I lead the audience in singing. I'm not that worried about singing, but I'm out there all alone for quite a while, opening the show. I wanted to just get on with the rest of the show about halfway through the song.

The narration with everyone else that opens the show after the song makes me a bit nervous, though it went fine last night. Hopefully I will feel less nervous tonight. (But not complacent either!)

It's hard to judge reactions in a venue and in a play like this, but I think the audience liked Topper, my smallest role, the best of everything I did. I also think they liked my narration, but of course, an audience is always going to pay more direct attention to a narrator type character, I would dare say.

So the opening is behind us, and I am glad of it. Saturdays are almost always the best crowds. Will it be so this time? Perhaps the Ghost of Christmas Present will bless our humble playhouse with a sprinkling of his torch tonight.

Thursday, December 01, 2016

A Tech Week Carol

You wouldn't know it by my general radio silence over the last few days, but we have in fact been in the midst of tech week for Christmas Carol: A Ghost Story. Normally I have a bit more to say here on the blog for tech weeks, but I got to thinking that without major developments, most of tech week is the same sort of insider type of night that in general all experienced actors know about, and those outside of theatre would likely find a bit boring to read about. Plus I have been tired coming home at night as you might guess, for this has been one of the latest (at night) tech weeks I've had in a while.

A general overview:

We get out of rehearsal around 11 so far this week. I don't much mind this, since we need the time to get everything set up. Lights and sounds are still being worked out, and I'd rather take the time, than not get them right in the actual show. That's what the week is for, and it's part of the package when you volunteer.

Thus far, I've done pretty good as far as doing my job, I dare say. I've dropped a line here and there throughout the week, but as far as I recall, nothing that derailed the moment. Plus I correct the issue the next day in rehearsal.

I'm not what I call "secondary" off book as much as I would like to be in an ideal world. That is to say, how much information can I pull up to correct a mistake or omission made by someone else in the scene. I've been able to dive in and give a missing line or otherwise put tape over the situation here and there, I'm relieved to say, but in a perfect world I would always knows exactly how to fix something, and I confess, I've not had an instant fix for each mistake outside of my control which has occurred this week. Perhaps I put too much pressure on myself for this. I don't like to see fellow actors swinging out in the breeze though. I like to help if I can. And I have tried to do so. But I suppose there is a limit to amount of things one actor can juggle at a time. I have to remind myself of that from time to time.

Being so familiar with the story, however, does help at times to ascertain the general direction of things should they go awry for a moment.

On the whole, the week has been a bit rough for all of us, to be honest. But last night did show a marked improvement over the previous night.

Things started off with a cue-to-cue, wherein the light booth folks get their timing down for light and sound cues. That took a while. I think it took longer than than director expected. After that we moved into a full fledged rehearsal. Despite some bumps and a bit of fatigue on my part, combined with having a few new costume pieces and props to handle, some of my moments were the best I've delivered so far, I have to say. Probably because despite all of the technical issues, there is this awareness that we open tomorrow (!) and that it's time to home in on some more of the performance nuance.

Tonight is "full dress," though I wore all my costumes last night as well. Plus a few other nights last week. Some of the changes will be a little close, but if last night was any indication, all of them should be doable.

The first three staves of this tech week carol have perhaps not gone as smoothly as one would like. However, the show has gotten better each night this week, and there is no reason to believe it won't be even more improved tonight.