Friday, April 30, 2010

Tech talk

I like tech. It often has a bad rep, and sure, there are the long hours, the fear of things not coming together on time, stressed out production team members, demanding actors (what?! not this cast, of course!) and the pressure of making things run smoothly and keeping everyone in the loop while still remembering to call the light, sound and projection cues on time. But I love it. It is by far the most exciting time in the rehearsal and performance process for me... For months, I've been in on design and production meetings, auditions, casting and seemingly endless nights of rehearsals, but when technical rehearsals starts it's finally time to see everyone's efforts come together.

We have been adding lights the last couple of nights, which always makes a huge difference. Tomorrow we will have a rehearsal with the orchestra and sound (again, adding those makes an enormous difference!), followed by a run through where we'll add costumes and make sure all of the scene changes and lights are (close to) the way we want them. Our crew person will join us for the first time then, too.

Then on Monday we'll throw everything together: actors, orchestra, sound, lights, projections, props, costumes and make-up.

Another reason for enjoying tech rehearsals is because it functions as a bit of a reunion party for me. I love getting to work with new directors and new cast members and making new friends, but there is something really comforting about reaching the end of of the rehearsal process and getting to see and spend time with all of the familiar faces of the tech crew; the follow spot operators, light board op, sound engineer, wardrobe coordinator, technical director, charge artist and running crew. And seeing the reactions of the design team who are seeing both the show and their creations in action for the first time is pretty awesome too.

Things do go wrong. And when they do, they usually make for great stories over a drink or two. But, so far, so good. Everyone has been doing great work. So.., here's to another good day of tech tomorrow!

We remembered to breathe!!!

It was a solid show last night. And it's everyone's doing - no single person made the show great . With that said, their behind the scenes participation makes it extra fun to write blogs.

Josh gave us some after-show entertainment with his rendition of “Everything Beautiful.” Except not...he called it, “Everything Gothical Happens At Night.” I *thought* I pressed record, but I didn't. Guess he'll have to do it again for us. By the way, Josh, we moved in style beautifully last night.

Britt brought some goodies for us to enjoy from Idaho...what a treat!

Arwin and I had a humorous run-through of “Hungry Men,” sorry Paul...

Greg got yelled at again for mispronouncing “Melisande,” again...:) I believe Paul said he would “shoot things” at him if he mispronounced it again. Maybe he'll get lucky, and Paul will just have Chris spit on him.

Jennifer immerses herself in “Lizzie,” once again and continues to impress us.

Justin plays a mean drunk man...mean in a good way!

Chris was the kindest director ever by only having two pages of notes for us...what a confidence boost!

F.X does a beautiful job of hiding a bottle of vodka. *cough*

Jen continues to impress me with her man skills...

Eric belts those echoes in hot day like no other...what a man.

Dick consistently makes me laugh - rather the line is intended that way - or not.

Bill sang “Man and a Woman” with such ease. Absolutely stunning.

Charles stands up for Starbuck and it gets me every time.

Paul makes us sing better - so he just wins.

and finally, John and I finished Little Red Hat GRACEFULLY.
It's come a far way...and I have bruises on my legs to prove it! ;)
Paul's idea of a choreographed breath before some of the longer phrases worked perfectly. I think of a breathing technique for a pregnant woman right before I sing, and it does wonders. Always have to have something on mind.

Until next time...

Snookie (Snooks, Snookums, Snook, Snookster)

P.S: Wins for stage right: 2


On our way!

Last night we hit the mark! After 12 pages of notes the previous night, I took 2 pages, and many of them merely praise for this great cast. Here are a few: Josh looks good without a shirt; Arwen and Justin's timing to platform area 6 was perfect; FX's "Rainsong" moves were spot on; Eric and Britt have never looked more genuine and dear; Jennifer made most of her entrances on time, and cursed herself, hands covering her face, when she didn't; Madison and John nailed "Little Red Hat" and I have confidence they always will; Charles' delivery of "No one I know of," is perfectly timed and heartfelt; Dick leaves me believing in H.C. and his philosopy of life; Bill has left the mind and moved into the heart of File; Gregory has found the moments and given them time needed, creating the Starbuck we were looking for; And Jenn is my Lizzie - the pain, the hopes, the dreams, and the talent to share it all with us.

And least I forget, SMT provides their directors with the best creative and administrative staff anyone could hope for. I have never been able to thank Ann and Paul enough for the support I receive when I am privilaged enough to participate in their productions. And now I have Carine as well! Thanks, kid, for moving us forward so consistently. And thanks to all the staff.

And we still have a week of layering the tech to create a deep and wonderful show. We're running with the wind, and I can smell the rain coming.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Great run-through

Can I just say that yet again I feel so lucky to be a part of a theatre company that is so talented AND organized that we do run-throughs 2 weeks before opening? I love it! It really gives me an opportunity to experience the full-meal-deal and sink my teeth into it, so by the time the audience sees it, we will be so ready to present. Thanks to Chris for reiterating for the umpteenth time that he wants us to be real - listen and react genuinely. The detailed notes we get from Paul and Chris will just tighten up the performance as a whole. And we still have 1 more week to go! (And thanks Chris for being so patient and understanding with those people who just can't seem to enter on time. And you know who you are, you slackers.)

I'd say the "backstage" antics are so amusing, even if they occur in the house seats. Josh has more characters and voices than Sybil, and although he wants to be a ninja cowboy, he can rock out like nobody's business.

It was great to chat with Arwin on what were our favorite songs from this show. There are so many good songs in this one, it sure is hard to pick a favorite. "Simple Little Things" and "Everything Beautiful Happens at night" are just too purdy. However, "Little Red Hat" is just such a head-boppin', toe-tappin', fun song, that with John and Maddison's fantastic dancing, however, I don't think it can be topped in my book. (No offense to Charles "Twinkle-toes" Gift and Dick "I'd rather be in the back row" Hooper for their efforts.)

So here's looking forward to our long Saturday where we get to experience the full orchestra. You go bobble-head Paul!

Time well spent.

For the first night of tech, I thought it went rather smoothly. Just a few minor mishaps, but that's what makes tech rehearsal not a dress rehearsal...we still have some time to tweak. Here's an idea of what went on tonight - if you happened to miss this very entertaining evening.

“What's going on right now?”
“Everything Beautiful.”
You know your head is full of way to much darn information when you're asking the person you just practiced with FOR the next scene, what scene is up next...

Flightiness runs in our theater family, even though John and I enjoyed the “extra moment” while Wally and his bud joined us onstage during “Little Red Hat.” Yes, I do refer to this scene often, mainly because it's the only scene in the whole show where a person is treated as a prop. Moi. Brittany whispers, “You need a little hard hat,” after rehearsal. Yes, that would be helpful, but not as rebellious. Heck, I sang a couple measures of the song upside down tonight...SUCH A RUSH.

Compromising positions? Why yes, Paul, I think that phrase fits perfectly.

It's also really great when random limbs end up in odd my arm being squashed in a hug between Noah And Jimmy...does that happen? I guess on the stage, anything's possible.

As Brittany said, actors pretty much sacrifice our lives (in a sense) for “homework time.” But the truth is, for many of us, theater is our life. And when a great show is created by a hard-working cast, we wouldn't trade it for all the time in the world.

Speaking of time, Chris's rather perturbed statement, “screwwwwwww,” gave us the impression he would have liked more time for notes. At least that's what I got from it. But I'm afraid if he did finish his twelve pages of “hey, do this, not that,” it might not have stuck as well as he would like, so we'll gladly take our notes via email. That said, valuable time was spent with Chris sharing his idea of a drama opposed to performing a musical. “We are actors -- not performers.” He makes a point to tell us how each of us have a moment in the show, and it's a matter of grasping that moment that will really make the audience take that extra breath and feel the story, opposed to a show with people singing songs randomly. “It's so much more than that, it's a drama with music.” It's a challenge to be under a spotlight, and not act as though it's there. I'm lucky enough to work with actors who are capable of ignoring that spotlight, and their experience is beginning to wear off on me. Being reminded of the importance of a story, was time well spent. Thanks, Chris.

So, would it be off to say we've all received A's on our homework so far???
*crosses fingers*

'til tomorrow...[tonight]!


[This is the kind of stuff I think about at 1:00 in the morning.]

“Hey should totally start recording "Little Red Hat" during the "around the world" lift - put it in slow motion, and post the final position every night until opening. Then we can make a picture-book after the run. We could sell that for money.”


Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Once more, with lights!

Tonight, we started adding lights and follow spots - something that always makes a huge difference in how the show looks. Below is another snippet of the Rain Song, this time with lights. The video quality is not optimal, but it should give you an idea of the difference.

This is the view from the tech table, which is a little farther away than where I took the video from last time...

Everyday dancing...

Doing a show is like being in school again. You should go to class (ie rehearsal) every day ready to learn and do some good work. But you're only gonna get average grades if that's all the effort you put in. If you want an awesome production, you've gotta do your homework.

That's why I'm dancing in the middle of Boise International Airport.

Let me connect those thoughts for you :)

Everyone onstage has a whole "outside" life we never consider within the course of a show. Some folks are lucky enough to make acting their full-time occupation-- something almost unheard of in Seattle. For the rest of us, we have day jobs just like you.

So that means that we're cramming in our homework wherever we can. Singing through our harmonies while stuck in rush hour on the 520 bridge. Mulling over blocking notes during coffee breaks. Memorizing lines while trying valiantly not to drip mustard on our scripts as we eat lunch.

Today, my day job landed me in Boise waiting several hours for my flight back to Seattle. What better time to run through production numbers than a long layover? I'm sure the gate agents are very amused as I work on my chass├ęs (that's "step-together-step, for you non-dancers) and body positions. They probably think the rest of the flash mob will show up at any minute.

So the next time you're standing in the Starbucks line and the person ahead of you in line starts humming under their breath and shuffling their feet, strike up a conversation. You never know when you might get the inside track to an awesome new show!

PS: 110 cast and crew, I'm bringing back snacks from Boise!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Zombie Cows

Here is a sneak peak from this last night's rehearsal. It's from The Rain Song, which is one of my favorite musical numbers in the show because it a) has almost everyone up on stage and I'm a sucker for ensemble pieces, b) features some fun choreography and c) the revival style music is just so catchy, you can't help wanting to clap and wave along!

Emily, our assistant stage manager and I lovingly refer to this song as the zombie cow song because of the line "There's dying cattle that will rise right up and live".

I particularly enjoy this snippet because it gives you a good idea of what rehearsals are like: the cast is focusing on singing and dancing while at the same time trying to incorporate (or ignore) whatever directions Chris shouts out at them.

And below is our charming music director, Paul. Doesn't this just make you want to come to rehearsal and join in the fun?


Platforms...we have platforms! Thanks, Dom! It nice to clearly see the different levels of performance now. All very high, of course. And Starbucks wagon is set to appear tomorrow. I still have one of those little Red Flyer wagons at home, and would have volunteered to lend that to Greg, but thought he might look a little ridiculous pulling it behind him as he sang about bringing on the rain! I have a million ideas - just need a better filter.

(Carine is dumping out on us tonight.)

The ensemble gets a night off tonight - they worked hard last night and now can use the evening to rest (i.e. Par-tay!) I look forward to a little al Italian fun this evening, where speed is of the essance and drama counts for nothing. Balance will be discovered eventually.

(Carine is still dumping out on us tonight.)

I wish I could write more humorous notes here, but since I'm often the brunt of the jokes, it hurts too much to repeat them. It's almost lunch time, so I think I'll just lick my wounds. Ugh!

(Did I mention that Carine is dumping...?)

"Little Purple Hat"

Well, now that I've officially done the don't as far as deliberately disagreeing with the director, it seems that Josh is loving every opportunity to mock me...such a gem. However I probably deserve it, considering I did kind of yank his arm many times tonight to get him to twirl me in the proper direction. I must say, taking the lead, would be the best option.

There was a revision tonight: the song is now "Little Purple Hat." As the hat is...well...
That said, John models it rather nicely. :)

After running "Little Purple Hat" once again this evening, I'm very interested in seeing what will happen once I'm clothed in my silk dress, lifts that were once just slightly damaging, could now be considered...deadly. When I told my mother about my most recent fabric addition and my concern, she laughed lightheartedly. funny mom...

There are advantages to being the youngest in the cast, however, tonight, a rather interesting comment came out of Jennifer's mouth: "I figured out why you're having a hard time with're so damn young. Bitch." No offense taken, Jen. Regardless of her envious state, she continued showing me how to "do the two-step." Chris remarked, "it's easy for me" sometime during the whole knee-slapping business, and that with John's "I struggled with it, too...I had to practice it for awhile," I concluded that young people just suck at dancing. There should be a moment in the song where the two of us just step aside, and let Chris and Jen knee-slap to their heart's content. Now THAT would be a show-stopper. H.C can let out a few more YAHOO'S and all the elderly folk can "get down low and take it to the dance floh floh..."
We'll all shout "evacuate the dance floor," and I will continue to laugh at my own jokes because I'm sure I'm the only one who listens to this music...

Anyway, it's late...and although I should probably be getting some shut-eye, I might pull a Lizzie and run off with some rainmaker.
Not random at all.

Glad to have Arwin back this evening...
but now I'm missing something else...
my hat. *sigh*
Guess I'll have to wait until Wednesday...
'Night folks!

<3 Snookie


Today we ran the big numbers.

For our opening number, the audience sees the townsfolk for the first time as we all assemble in the street, and at one point we all huddle in the middle. Snookie was distant from this picture and Chris asked Madison if she could sneak in closer. Evidently hearing something else, her response was "No, I am good where I am." The border between Madison and Snookie is slowly fading. I didn't know that we had such abilities to stand up to the director and make requests. Don't be surprised when I enter the stage Roman Emperor style, on the backs of a dozen servants. Theatre life is so extravagant...

We ran the "Rain Song", which was nice to touch up on. Chris mentioned that to simulate the sensation of falling rain he would spit on us from the house. Hopefully this will not be the same response we get from a paying audience.

Also on tonights schedule was repetion of "Everything Beautiful". When John asked about the pronunciation of "beautiful", Chris told us that it should be "bea-DUH-ful". Afterall, we are from the south; there such be a lot of "DUH" statements in our dialect. In this number, we have a semi-dance formal walking motion to do. Being a white boy with absolutely no sense of rhythem, I managed to make this simple task a complete and total trainwreck. I'll get it, though. Before going on stage, my partner, Madison, grabbed me by the arm and said "I'LL LEAD!" She has such a strong grip.

...and, per usual, Paul made fun of my being alone by the end of "Everything Beautiful". I'd like to point out that while typing this blog, I have been enjoying many alcoholic beverages by myself. I blame Paul's constant torture for this behavior...

More to come...

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The joys of lemon cake...

One of the highlights of life in Three Points is our annual picnic and potluck. Everyone packs their favorite dishes, which disappear pretty quickly (especially with all of the hungry men sitting around). A favorite is Lizzie's special lemon cake-- yum! The inedible prop cake onstage isn't nearly as delicious as this recipe, though:

Lemon Ice Box Cake
14 graham crackers, crushed
  • 1 cup white sugar (measured as two 1/2 cups)
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 1 (12 fluid ounce) can evaporated milk, chilled
  • 2 lemons, juiced
  • 1 (3 ounce) package lemon flavored gelatin
  • 1 cup crushed pineapple, drained
  • 1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/4 cup maraschino cherries, drained and chopped

  • Directions:
  1. To Prepare Crust: mix graham crackers, 1/2 cup sugar and melted butter and press into 9 x 13 inch pan.
  2. Mix lemon gelatin with 1 cup boiling water and let cool.
  3. Meanwhile, whip the chilled evaporated milk, add 1/2 cup sugar and lemon juice. Whip until sugar is dissolved. Whip in the cooled gelatin into the milk mixture then stir in pineapple.
  4. Pour lemon mixture over crust in pan. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup crushed graham crackers and chopped maraschino cherries if desired. Chill several hours or overnight.

Variation: Mix one 8 ounce package of cream cheese with the 1 cup sugar; add this to the whipped milk, gelatin and lemon juice mixture. Stir in pineapple then proceed as above.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

4/24 - Saturday Rehearsal

First full run-thru, and my partner in crime has laryngitis. Brilliant. I hope she realizes how important her voice is for our chorus...

Britt sadly accepts that she can't sing today - constantly getting the evil-eye from Paul. “He'll kill me if I sing,” she says. Britt returned the favor by glaring at me while I sang music from The Last Five Years in front of her...apparently that was a bad idea...

First costume fitting today, turns out, Snookie is a lot more fit than I thought she was. While Lizzie works on her up-do, I'm hitting the gym.

All excited about “necking in the car,” John and I were ready to bust out some awesome lifts in “Little Red Hat,” but instead, I just fell. We both established however, that it was in fact my skirt, and neither of our faults (*wink* *wink*).

Behind the scenes, I captured Justin in the epic 3D-not so-3D glasses, while Josh and F.X ran around with a bottle of vodka (a.k.a a coke bottle) and did a grand job of entertaining themselves until their next entrance.

During notes, Chris reminds Gregory not to scanter, and Greg shoots back with, “but I was planting!” Reminded by Chris that he was plantin' the wrong garden...

Before I head out Chris calls my name, then nervously asks if the lift is “going to work.” I smile and say, “Of Course it was only the skirt.”
Actresses are wonderful liars.

I leave, and yet again, I find myself driving in the rain - it's true that everything beautiful happens at night. ;)

I am incredibly impressed with this cast's hard work and dedication to what they do, we're creating a "family portrait" onstage and offstage, and I'm thrilled to be a part of such a wonderful show, with such a beautiful cast.

Two weeks till' opening! I know it will be just great.


Thursday, April 22, 2010

There is always that stage of rehearsing where all the various platforms, walls, entrances and levels of the set are merely tape marks on the floor. If the actor doesn't look down much, interesting, and mildly amusing (at least to me), things can happen. People walk through walls, step off 4 foot platforms, discover new (and eventually impossible) ways to enter and exit. We excitedly anticipate the sets arrival on stage when everything seems to make more sense.

I enjoy watching the ensemble (a.k.a. "chorus") evolve from the basic information given them in the script to "real" people in "real" environments. It takes experienced actors to know how to make that work. This production is lucky to have such talent. Without a strong ensemble the town of Three Point wouldn't come alive. Now we have a stage full of families and friends - personalities! Case in point, the song "Hungry Men" is being renamed "Hungry for Men" in honor of our lovely Jennifer H. and her hunt for testosterone.

Our musical director, Paul, has recently proven to be nimble and "oh so light afoot" as he dives within seconds from a relaxed recline in one of our audience seats to the piano bench just in time to intro an upcoming song. I don't know how he remembers the cue lines so well, but never a beat is missed.

A couple more weeks and we're open to the public. This is a special show.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


So, our costumer Deane was kind enough to let me use the boots I'll be wearing for the show to rehearse in. Fortunately, none of the dance steps have been hindered by the boots so far. For the most part, they are really fun. They sort of give a boost of masculinity that my personality probably needs. However fun they are, they are ridiculously noisy. Even when treading my softest behind the scenes, a steady CLOP CLOP CLOP can be heard. Cowboy ≠ Ninja. Lame.

With our run of Act One today, we received a new set piece: a brand spankin' new picnic table! And this sucker is STURDY. Think Noah's Ark. It is legally able to also serve as a bomb shelter in case of an emergency. I suppose it goes with the saying that "Everything's bigger in Texas". After attempting to lift it, I checked our actor contracts only to find that SMT isn't liable for hernias. Figures...

H.C. (Dick Hooper) was getting some laughes today, whether they were intentional or not. Some lines were flubbed about H.C's boy, Jim, getting caught puttin' the moves on a young lady. After a little confusion, H.C. just walked away saying "I didn't see anything". This is indeed his line, but it wasn't put in the right place. This same flub happened several times after the actors were forced to repeat the scene. Jim could be all sorts of naked with some lady in front of his dad, and H.C. still wouldn't care. That's my kinda dad! Real progressive...

Finally, got to mention "Raunchy" again. After Jenn finished her piece of seductive dancing, some young hulligan which was totally, definitely, ABSOLUTELY NOT ME made some obnoxiously enthusiastic cat calls . Chris, who was sitting a few rows ahead of me, turned around and looked over the rim of his glasses.

"Are you THAT guy?" he asked.

"Yes. Yes I am," I replied, in complete seriousness.

He gave me a look like I just spit in his coffee. Chris will never cast me again...

More to come...

They build 'em strong in Texas

Tonight's rehearsal reminded us all that although our show takes place in Texas, we still have to be prepared for Washington-style natural disasters. Fortunately, the set comes equipped with our very own earthquake shelter: a picnic table!

This isn't just any ordinary table, though. It has to survive the wrath of actors jumping, climbing and dancing on it. Believe me, we're all very grateful for its tank-like sturdiness, even if it takes half the cast to move it. Starbuck is worth it, right?

Plus, to quote our stage manager Carine, "We have incorporated it into our duck and cover nuclear attack preparedness routine." I know where I'll be if disaster strikes. But don't worry-- there's plenty of room for everyone!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


Last night we worked our way through Act One. It was really cool to see all the numbers, and get a glimpse of the big picture for the first time.

For our number "Hungry Men" the women of the ensemble served us a traditional Texan dish: left over chocolate eggs from Easter. In the song they describe all the labors of preparing an epic feast, and really all they do is open a plastic bag and put it on the table. Feminine trickery. Thank God their singing is better than their cooking...

All in all, the musical numbers are really coming together. The Man Trio, that is Dick, Charles, and John, laid out some sweet harmonies in "Lizzie's Coming Home". Speaking of Lizzie, her "Raunchy" number really brought the heat. It was so good, it made Dick forget his blocking.

And it wouldn't be a true rehearsal without somebody breaking something. John's rippling arms caused him to break right through the skin of a prop drum. Easy on those pushups, stud...

We go back for Act Two tonight. Its coming along, y'all!

More to come...

Monday, April 19, 2010

Time for fittings...

One of my favorite milestones as an actor is costume fittings, which are happening this week.

All the way back at our first rehearsal, our fabulous designer Deane Middleton shared her ideas about the show's costumes. She also corralled us to take measurements, which was the last time we saw her up until now. Out of sight, out of mind they say-- especially when it comes to the tech elements of the show. We know that they'll magically appear at some point, but until then you become consumed with all of the things you're actually responsible for as an actor (like remembering your phone book full of stage directions, to quote Josh's earlier post).

At fittings, it's the first chance the actor has to see how much work Deane and her team have done while we're off singing and dancing. For the fashion-challenged folks like myself, it's great to have someone hand you a pile and say, "Put all of these on." It's like having a personal shopper for your character!

And even better, Deane is an expert at making sure things not only fit her vision, but also the physical demands of the show. We get our show shoes at this point so we can start rehearsing in them-- a very important thing, as everyone who's ever worn a new pair of shoes out for the first time can relate to!

We're gonna work through Act One for the first time tonight, so we'll see how my shoes hold up...


Rehearsal started today with a general lack of parking in Magnuson Park. There was a big book sale that going on, which really seemed to draw the crowds. Perhaps that's the secret to a full house in Seattle: a book sale decoy.

We started today with blocking Starbuck's "Rain Song". Gregory Conn, who plays Starbuck, makes it really easy to get excited about what he's trying to sell with his larger-than-life portrayal. Our director, Chris, gave us about a phone book of stage directions, and jokingly asked if it would committed to memory by the end of rehearsal. This was followed by a few chuckles and then many nervous looks around the room amongst the ensemble.

In this scene, like many others, Chris has blocked Snookie (Madison Greenlund) to hang out with me in the beginning of the scene, but ending up with Jim (John Huddleston) by the end. I think my new nickname for Chris should be "The Anti-Cupid" for killing any opportunity for romance. Whenever Snookie gets ripped from my arms, Paul always lets out a big laugh, taking cruel pleasure in my solitude. Musical directors are such sadists...

Fortunate for me (and every other male in the cast) ensemble member Jennifer Hawkins' character (if it is indeed a character choice) seems to be willing to accept any male attention that comes her way, with this scene being no exception. Awesome.

We closed rehearsal with blocking the finale. Similar to the "Rain Song", it was the song that we sang for callbacks, and initially got me interested in doing the show. It's hard not to feel good when singing this song 'cause it puts a little pep in your step. If you're not familiar with the song(s), I'm sure you'll agree when you see the show. You'll be crying HALLELUJAH before you know it.

After all the chanting we had done, when we got out of rehearsal, sure enough, it was raining. Ya gotta love the impact musical theater has on the world!

More to come...