In some ways that is exactly how our opening felt! When one considers that as recently as Monday. (MONDAY!) several people were still holding scripts, some fight scenes had yet to be choreographed, the set was not done, not everybody had a costume, and props were still up in the air, last night's successful (and well attended) opening came as a pleasant surprise to me.
Hard work certainly played a part. The daily ritual of socializing for a few hours before call helped also, I think. And of course luck also played a part now doubt, as well as the Divine Powers. The show was not problem free, but it basically had no more problems than your average show on opening night.
To begin with, I was a but more nervous to run this show than any I have run in a while. I was prepared, I knew somewhere deep inside. Yet the whole nature of a Shakespearean performance is different than standard theater, and I had not done Shakespeare in years.
My first scene is intended to be comical, and it worked in that sense. The audience laughed several times. (I even ad-libbed a bit of authentic Gregorian Chant upon my entrance.) One interesting thing that happened however, was that sometimes a few people would laugh at things that I did in later more serious scenes. Specifically they would laugh when I would pray at the end of a scene. Is my praying that funny, or was it carry over from the first scene?
The first half was always stronger for me than the second half, though I did skid over a line or two here and there. I didn't forget them, just stumbled a bit. Recovery was complete. Nobody without the script memorized would have known.
It is during the second half that I have two rather complicated speeches, both rather boring and a little pointless. I also have a shared speech with someone, something I have never done before. So the nerves were a little more tuned up for the second half than the first, even though the first half went quite well.
My longest speech went well, though I will never enjoy giving it. That is one thing about this I will not miss..that awful speech. But I need do it only one more time.
I made a moderate to major mistake near the end. I entered before I was supposed to. Fate and the Apothecary were supposed to have been long gone before I walked out. I walked out in plain view, saw them, and stepped back behind the curtain. No excuses, just an unmitigated foul up on my part.
The ending scene, when I find Romeo dead, and bid Juliet to come away felt "good" in it's tragic aspects, though Juliet picked up on my exit cue line a little later than normal. I started to leave as she delivered it.
At the very end, someone missed a line between two of my speeches in the tomb. I covered it by starting the second speech, but I am sure I looked like the one who forgot something. But oh well. I am happy with my performance in that scene. It can be draining.
The biggest foul up not only of the night, but perhaps in all my years of acting, when you consider how easily avoided it should have been, yet how damaging it was to the play.
This show has one light cue. "Lights Out". (I guess two, technically, when you count bringing them back up.) There is supposed to be a specific tableau, with Fate bowing to me, (God's Representative.) The lights came down instead a minute early, when the last line was delivered. Someone was pulling on me in the dark, and then stopped. I look around, amidst the premature applause, and saw Fate, my counterpart in the closer, still standing where she had been...with nobody else...not even the partner she is supposed to have in the scene.
The lights came back up, and the audience stopped. We half-assed our way through the highly symbolic ending, but it was clear it made no sense. I probably should have not even tried, but Fate was still there, and she would have looked silly by herself, so I stayed.
I was angry about that. Quite a bit. The triumphant mood of an otherwise good show destroyed by one of the most unnecessary foul-ups ever. I do not know who was running the lights, hard job that it was. But it is best I don't know. No good would come from me knowing. Everybody involved in the show has known that was the ending for over a month. Now we have one shot to get a pay off from our first great brainstorming session of our rehearsal process, those brief few weeks ago. Fingers crossed for tonight.
How odd it is to do only two shows. Despite my problems and worries, would that it would another week. With one more week this show would have been fantastic. It may yet be, but practice makes perfect, and we would have been even closer to perfection with longer rehearsal time. Now we speak of strike as the glow of opening night is still upon us. It is depressing. More so than most plays that simply end in their good time. I do feel deprived, even though I knew going into this it would be this way.
But, as my character tells Romeo... "O deadly sin! O rude unthankfulness!". I must remember to be happy for the chance to be in these two performances. And I must look ahead to this very night to make sure that it is even better than the first. And so I am off to do so right now. (By collecting my stuff to once again meet some of the cast early to hang out...it truly has been a great medicine for some of the ills and worries of this production.)