Monday, December 06, 2010

"The End Of It"

The title of this entry comes not from the play, but from the last section of the original novel, A Christmas Carol. But I used it for the final entry for this play two years ago, and I am doing so again.

First and foremost, I need to say that it is quite an infrequent experience for me to have my final performance be either the best, or in front of the biggest crowd. Today's matinee, however was both. Five seats short of a full house, and a very response, cheerful crowd at that. They laughed at a few things that the other crowds did not find so amusing.

As well as things that all of the other crowds found amusing. Such as my often mentioned "Happy New Year!" bit. It was always well received, and tonight was it's best reception. And though I didn't reach 100% internalization, (another hot topic here on the blog the last two weeks) I do feel my performances in this final day were of high quality, and full of energy. And the same can be said for basically everyone else in the show.

It was especially true for the break-up scene. It went better than last night, as Belle and I managed to more successfully recreate the graceful hand motion at the end of the waltz that we first did on Friday, but didn't quite achieve the following night. It may have been our best presentation of that scene. If not, it was certainly the second best. I am happy with my move in later rehearsals to present Scrooge's frustration, as opposed to presenting anger or total coldness. I shall miss performing that scene just as much as I shall miss Fred's first scene, wherein he greets Uncle Scrooge.

I had fun with Old Joe, and will miss him a bit as well. I won't miss being Peter Cratchit in either scene, frankly, despite the drama in the second. My brief moments as Christmas Future were always fun, though not my biggest challenge ever. I won't particularly miss any of the scenes in Dickens' attic, even though they are sort of the raison detre of this particular version. I always found myself chomping at the bit to get on with the actual story. (And according to my mother, who was in today's audience, some people in the house agreed with this notion, being confused by the attic moments, and unsure of what was happening.)

And then there is the Fred party scene in the Christmas Present section. The one scene that always made me a bit nervous beforehand, despite it usually being just fine. A scene I did not hate, but probably won't miss too much. And it was just fine today, and the audience was very appreciative of it. But it was not without it's problems.

To begin with, a moment wherein I was supposed to walk slowly off of a 5 step turret we built for the play did not exactly go off as planned. It is round in shape, and as I turned to deliver a line, something happened. I lost my balance for a moment, or caught my show on something, and felt myself falling forward a bit toward the ground, and away from the steps. So in the only thing I could think of to correct it error, as well as to prevent possible injury, I simply leaped off of the turret and landed in the middle of the stage while delivering said line. A bit much, but I don't think the audience noticed, and in fact seemed to be laughing rather heartily at that moment. But whether at my mini-stunt, or at something else going on on stage, I can't say. I can say the jump was a bit higher than I initially thought it would be. But better by far than falling off the thing.

The second snafu for that scene will take some explaining, but was so amusing to me I'd like to take the time to do so.

Fred blindfolds his friend Topper during the scene for a game of "Blindman's Buff". There is a gag here, wherein I look for a handkerchief, and the supposedly unseen Ghost of Christmas Present throws it, and I catch it. It always got a chuckle or two. However, at the top of the act, one of my fellow actors came off stage, and delivered a message to me on behalf of the actor who was playing Christmas Present; He had forgotten to grab the handkerchief.

That actor didn't come off stage for close to half an hour straight. He had no way to get it, and I was about to go on as Peter Cratchit. I pondered ways to cover the problem while performing Peter. (A role which had few lines.) During my brief exit, I discussed it with a fellow actress who suggested something I had already considered...taking off my ascot during the scene and using that. (Ironically, this is exactly what happened two years ago, when another actor was playing Fred, and the blindfold was somehow misplaced.) The problem was, I wasn't sure I'd have time to put it back on for my remaining scenes. I never could get it on without several tries.

Bob Cratchit enters the scene now. Played by the same actor who will later play Topper. During a section we all hated, wherein the Cracthit family had to mime its way through what seemed like a 10 minute speech by the Ghost of Christmas Present, I leaned over toward "Bob" and explained the problem to him. "Bob" then explained to me that he had retrieved the blindfold from backstage and sneaked it on with him. He mentioned it was laying behind us. I couldn't look without being conspicuous, but sure enough when I exited the Cratchit scene, to prepare for the Fred scene, I saw the wayward prop, and pocketed it quietly. It was then available to me during the party scene. And though a joke was lost, the audience was none the wiser of this. (At least until some of them read this entry!) It was a nearly perfect fix involving nearly half the cast, and not a bead of sweat was shed because of it. That is what focus and team work will bring you during a show!

None of that would have been possible if this production wasn't one of the most prepared, well rehearsed, and overall smooth flowing shows I have been in for a while. I have discussed the reasons why this may have been so for in previous entries. I won't go into them again, but suffice to say today was a prime example of the importance of being so.

As well as a prime example of why two weekend simply are not enough in most community theatre shows. Loyal blog readers will know already I have long advocated for a three weekend schedule for at least some community shows, given how almost all of them hit their true stride during the second weekend, right before they close. (If the stride is ever hit at all...) If once in a while that sense of finally hitting that rhythm could carry into one more weekend, I think a show could have more life than most community players would imagine.

A subject worthy of further consideration and discussion, but not here. Here is the time I look back on yet another show that has concluded. A show that I didn't even think I would be in, given I did not audition for it. But one I am glad I agreed to appear in. It was not revolutionary, nor life changing. nor was it perfect. But as I was telling one of the other actors during strike today, I feel it was one of those shows where we basically achieved anything we could have expected to achieve. I don't think we left anything on the stage, as it were. I think we did everything we set out to do, despite the inevitable obstacles. And hopefully we opened up the holiday season on a positive note for at least some of the people who came to see us these last two weekends. Perhaps even converted a real Scrooge or two into a happier frame of mind? One never knows.

So though once again almost none of my friends came to see me, (a sadly regular occurrence) I count this production of A Christmas Carol as a positive one. I give us a B+ or A- for the entire run. Quite the improvement over my previous show.

And an improvement over the last time we performed this show, two years ago, in some ways. Even the strike was smooth and without incident.

Now my focus turns both towards the holidays themselves, and toward my next theatre project; being an assistant-director for Full Circle's next production. I will decide in the coming days whether or not to chronicle that here on the blog, but until then, I bring my blogging about the Full Circle Theater Company's 2010 production of A Christmas Carol to a close. With my thanks to cast and crew of same.

And no, I will not end this entry with the most obvious Tiny Tim reference of all time.

1 comment:

Ty Unglebower said...

Thank you for reading! I hope you will continue to do so.