Monday, November 23, 2009

2 Launches in 48 Hours, Part 1

Last night was the first rehearsal for "It's a Wonderful Life", the radio play, at the Winchester Little Theater. A few people were not there, it seems, but most were.

It looks like most of the people that were cast were people that showed up for both nights of auditions. A coincidence perhaps, but I did notice it.

The cast does indeed appear to be about 16 people, as the director estimated it would be during auditions. So, when I consider that I made a cut that small out of 65 or so that auditioned, (have of which were men), I can't really complain.

Despite arriving early, (as per my custom), I was still scrambling a bit to identify which roles I would be playing exactly.

I already knew from the start I would be playing Peter Bailey, father of George. That is by far my largest role. Two scenes with him. I'll basically be reading him the way I read for George when I auditioned. A gentler noble sort of man. He will probably have the closest to my own voice.

Then there is "Welch". He slugs George at some point in the bar. (For insulting his wife over the phone.) IN fact, I made one mistake last night, in not realizing that Welch was supposed to be in the telephone scene. He is heard in a muffled tone yelling through the Bailey's telephone. It is well marked now. I won't miss it again.

I am giving Welch a very deep voice. Very throaty. He is probably the voice that is least like my own.

Looks like I will also be playing "Man", which is literally one line. He asks for spaghetti at a restaurant. I think I'll call him "Spaghetti Man". The unique thing about that is that the one line Spaghetti Man has comes only a few moments before I play the aforementioned Welch. So, as is the case for most people in the show at several points, a quick and distinct transition to another character will have to be made. I'm not too worried about it though.

Then there is the small role of Second Commercial Man, a role I was not initially supposed to have, but was given as a sort of last minute switch by the director. This is not a character in "It's a Wonderful Life". But because it is a radio play, old fashioned radio commercials from the "sponsors" of the program are part of the action. During one such break, I am the man who learns to use "Dux Toilet Cakes". If I am allowed to keep the goofy, nerdy voice I came up with for the ad, it will be a fun moment for me, and hopefully the audience. (Ironically, it is not a product for the toilet, as the later lines reveal.) Two lines for that section. But I will also be up front when the jingle is sung for that one, set to the tune of "Santa Claus if Coming to Town", if I remember correctly. I guess I will sing it as the nerdy guy.

And finally, I also play one "Ed". If you recall from the story, there is at one point a run on the banks and the Bailey Building and Loan. Ed is one of the disgruntled Bedford Fallsians that comes to get his money. That's about three lines. I'm going with a sort of raspy, maybe short of breath voice for him. (He mentions having medical bills to bay; I thought that would be a logical decision. I will find out when we get our emailed notes if that will work for the director.)

Previously, I was intended to play one of the board members of the Bailey Building and Loan, but I was removed from that in favor of Second Commercial Man. No complaints here, even though the board member had a few more lines.

As for the mechanics of everything, I didn't yet have any trouble. Bear in mind, however, that there is not yet any set. What's more, the director said that the set was not going to be anything like he initially thought it would be. (As a side note, I always did think directors should have more say over how sets look. The notion of an independent set designer that has total reign honestly makes little sense to me. But oh well.) The moral of the story is, the shape of the "radio station" will be different than expected, and there may be a sort of hallway/waiting room type of area for those not performing. Still part of the set, but it may allow for off stage time for some actors, whereas at first we were told we'd all have to be on stage for the entire show.

I'm not great at visualizing structures before they exist, so I suppose my questions will be answered.

Otherwise, it's fairly simple. Each actor is assigned one of the two microphones that will be downstage. A few lines before one goes on, one approaches their assigned microphone from one side, delivers the lines, and then leaves the mike from the opposite side, returning to back stage. (Whatever that ends up being.) The effect is a circular pattern, one way street type of deal. If everyone pays attention to where they are in the script, their shouldn't be any problems.

I do have two very large chunks of time without being on. One of them comes 15 or so minutes before the intermission, so that will be the easier of the two. I can just relax after I deliver my final lines for the first act.

The commute was about an hour, with the highway. But it would be much longer if I took the highway during the weak I am sure, so I may opt for the already longer back ways, in hope of avoiding traffic next time. If my phones navigator can find that route. (I recently had to give back the borrowed GPS unit I was using.)

Last night's was the only rehearsal before Thanksgiving, the next being on Tuesday, December 1st. I think there will be 5 or 6 altogether, with 4 performances. A busy Early December for me. But November is not left out of this equation. Continue on to read, "2 Launches in 48 Hours, Part 2" to learn more.

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