Thursday, July 31, 2008

Some fun at rehearsal

Whenever a show runs just on weekends, there's always something called a "pickup rehearsal" mid-week, so the actors aren't coming into the first night's performance cold. Sometimes it's a full rehearsal without costumes, other times we just "run lines," which means we sit around with each person saying their lines, no movements. Often if it's running lines, it becomes something of a race, with everyone saying their lines from memory as fast as they can, with little inflection, just really running the lines.

Earlier in the rehearsal schedule, if I was having trouble remembering a line, I would use some sort of trick. My second favorite one was when Annie says, "... her mind is like a mousetrap." My next line isn't responding to that one, it's referring back to something she'd said earlier. It's a little harder to remember lines like that. My line starts, "But after a child hears how many words, Miss Annie?" So the trick that I used for that one was to envision a cartoon mouse with his butt sticking out of a mousetrap ("mousetrap." "But") and then to envision a child's bare butt ("But after a child") and that got me to remember the next line.

That was one of the more elaborate ones, but it worked, and now I don't have to use the trick any more, I just remember the line!

But my hands-down favorite trick led to some fun at last night's pickup rehearsal, which was of the running lines variety. I have a line that goes, "We're off to meet the train, Captain." For some reason, I couldn't get that exactly right. I knew I needed to tell him we were leaving to pick up Annie at the train, but I couldn't get those exact words stuck in my head. So while I was saying them over & over again, I began to hear, "We're OFF to meet the wizard! The wonderful wizard of Oz!" That did it for me, but then of course my mind began running to who we're really off to meet, Miss Annie, and before you know it I'd composed a silly little takeoff on the song.

So I began conspiring, whispering, telling the other actors (but not Annie or the director) that at the pickup rehearsal when we came to that point, I was going to signal with a "Hmmmmmm" setting the first note, and we'd all burst into song. So we did:
We're off to meet the wizard!
The wonderful wizard of Ann.
She is, she is a teaching whiz
Because of her flappin' hands!

If ever, oh ever a whiz there was,
The wizard of Ann's a whiz because,
Because, because, because, because, beCAUSE!
Because of the wonderful signs she does!

[doo doo, doo doo, do doo, do dooo!]

We're off to meet the wizard!
The wonderful wizard of Ann!
We all had a good laugh, and now Annie's worried that when she hears that line as she sits stage right in the "train station" that she'll be unable to keep from smiling!

Very fun. What a good cast we have, to indulge me in such silliness ... and to enjoy it with me!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Quick show update

I'm thrilled to tell you that our first weekend of The Miracle Worker was a raging success. By Sunday, word of mouth had swelled the audience to 3/4 of the theater (and I've played shows there with only 20 people in the seats, so this is definitely a commentary on the show). It's a physically demanding show, especially for the young women who are playing Annie Sullivan and Helen Keller (if you've ever seen the movie you know what I mean). They are doing a bang-up job of those action sequences. When we started rehearsing I was pretty sure it was going to look like a couple of girls pretending to fight with each other but Man! It surely does not!

The role I play, as Helen's mom, is a gem. Even though it's not a lead part, in my opinion Kate Keller really is the beating heart of the story (or am I prejudiced?). She loves her daughter fiercely, and even though she's a proper Southern belle, she is willing to stand up to an overbearing husband, a sniping stepson, and anyone else who tries to get in the way of getting Helen the help she needs. She is gracious, smart, and loving. She loves, jokes, smiles, struggles, cries, and offers emotional support to everyone in her family at one time or another. She's just a gem, and I'm privileged to play her.

The play is structured so that I'm on stage most of the time, even though the lead roles are Annie and Helen. I so much prefer being on stage a lot during a performance. It helps me stay in character; there's often a lot of goofing around going on backstage that can be distracting.

My costumes are drop-dead GORGEOUS! Here's a snapshot the Huz snapped. I'll have more at some point, as the costumer intends to offer them for rental on a website. They're completely authentic right down to the corset & chemise, and completely beautiful. She chose lovely fabrics for mine. In this picture you also see, from left to right, a blind girl, Annie Sullivan, Helen Keller, and a second blind girl. Click on the picture to see it a bit larger.

Saturday night for the first time in all my performances I had the heartwarming experience of hearing the audience clap louder when I came on stage. ("You like me, you really like me!") It happened again for the Sunday matinee, and the crowd held the applause for so long that we had a second bow.

I'm on cloud 9! (That little speck in the picture is me ;-)