This will be a longer entry, because I will be covering the last two shows.
First, Saturday night.
We knew we were getting a big crowd before the house even opened. Reservations were high, plus walk-ins always happen. Final total was over 200 which was awesome.
I could certainly feel the electricity from that crowd, (which included many of my friends.) I have felt greater power and anticipation before a show, but not for a while, and I knew the crowd was going to be "off the hook", and I predicted as much in the green room before the show.
Turns out I was right. The were responsive, energetic, and at times uproarious, from beginning to end. The laughs came on a regular basis, as did the applause at the end of scenes.(This is not something you always get when you do a play of many scenes.)
I do not enter for the first time until about 20 minutes into the play, so I have a little extra time to prepare myself. During that time, I tried to judge not only the audience, but my fellow actors. They too seemed to be more on target than ever before. I could hear them better, the timing was spot on, and the energy of the scenes, (from what i could gather by listening to them) was way up, without being too manic.
This continued when I came out on stage. I felt instantly in the zone, as they say. Not simply because I was doing well, but because I could feel that everyone else was right where they wanted to be, or near it, when we were interacting on stage. There was quite a bit of natural cadence and realism to the scenes. Everyone was doing an excellent job, which in turn helped everyone else they were with do even better.
Act 1 ended in a nice comedic upswing. Everyone I talked to at intermission agreed that the crowd was a marked improvement over opening night. Then came act 2.
Act 2 has worn on me more than act one. Not only are my responsibilities increased, but each of the things I do is separated by longer periods of inactivity than anything I do in act 1. It's a challenge to fight off some antsiness on my part.
Then when it does come time for me to do certain things, my monologue specifically, I do still get a small bit nervous. Not in the traditional sense, but I tense up a slight bit right before I go out for that part.
Saturday night, however, I all of the sudden felt more at ease right before I went out, than I usually do at that point. I was calmer. When I went out, I gave my monologue better than I had previously up until that point. I had been off book for weeks of course, and had always done well. Yet Saturday it felt more natural than before. As though I owned it...really owed the speech, for the first time. So much so , that after I left the stage, I leapt into the air to celebrate. Very uncharacteristic for me.
Once I get that done I usually feel more at ease again, and the final important scene I have, (a "romantic" scene) is several scenes later. I have time to come down. Which I did on Saturday, only with extra excitement and refinement for the scene. (Which, as usual, the audience very much enjoyed.)
The play concluded, and both audience and cast were very pleased, by all indications. It was the best we have ever run the show, rehearsal or performance.
As for today, it is no secret I hate matinees. Especially when they come right on the heels of excellent Saturday nights.
So today's audience was a pleasant surprise.
There were about 130 people. They were warm and responsive from the very beginning. Sunday morning crowds are usually half asleep, or very "polite", as theatre people say. not this one. In fact, someone was laughing as soon as I entered today...and I had not ever done anything yet. (Is this a good or bad thing??)
Though not as boisterous as Saturday's crowd, these folks were right with us the entire time, and laughed much more than the opening night audience. In fact, the even laughed at a few things that Saturday's great crowd did not laugh at.
That goes especially for me. Though I loved Saturday's crowd, I think on the whole today's audience laughed more per capita at my on stage adventures than any of the crowds thus far. They did not do a lot of hooting and hollering at the curtain call, but it was clear to me I was making an impression throughout the whole show, as opposed a few select moments. I am not always certain of that fact, but today I was. I could feel that the character resonated with this crowd for whatever reason.
That, along with the previous night's experience made for a far less stressful lead in to my monologue. Not that I was ever shaking, but today I was ready much quicker than previously.
All and all I have no problem at all declaring this one of, if not that finest matinee audience I have performed for at the Opera House.
In sum, a good opening weekend.
There is to be a pick-up rehearsal on Thursday. Though this has not often been done in shows I have been in at the OOH, I am glad we are having one. We are improving with each run of the show, and the second weekend really should be launched after a run through...not launched BY a run through.
So now, some days off.