Friday, December 16, 2011

TOMMY: Part II

Yesterday was callbacks for the musical - dancing and acting. A choreographer (I can't remember her name at the moment) came in and choreographed a part of "Pinball Wizard" and rehearsed it with all the students. Then, in groups of 5 the girls did the dance in front of Fish and Avery and then the boys in groups of 4. The students went out of the room while Fish and Avery deliberated and decided to keep some of the kids after to sing different songs for different parts. This part does not mean that the kids who went home don't get parts, just that Fish and Avery needed to see more from different people.

There were 2 groups of guys and 2 groups of girls that were called in to sing various parts of various songs. They all rehearsed as a group and then went individually. We went all the way until 5:25 and Mr. Avery had something he needed to go to so Fish and him didn't get to talk about the final cast list.

Both of them said that they might need more callbacks to happen after school today, but unfortunately Fischer got sick and had to stay home. Therefore, she sent an email out to everyone who tried out that said she was having more callbacks on Monday and then the cast list would come out.

The problem with this is that the actors are FREAKING OUT. I'm a rather good person to be comforting, so I hope I'm helping, but the actors just want this process over with. They don't want to wait the entire weekend. And while I wish I could do something to help, I can't make Fish better. I don't have that kind of power.

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Thursday, December 15, 2011

TOMMY: Part I

I know I just finished Brothers Grimm, but I've already started the next project: our musical, The Who's TOMMY.

The first part of auditions were yesterday after school in the vocal music room. Miss Fischer teams up with Mr. Avery (one of our choir directors) to direct the school musical, which happens every two years. The show will run March 22, 23, 24, and 25, 2012. We cast the show before winter break, and start rehearsals in January.

At yesterday's audition the actors had to prepare a piece to sing from I believe three choices. Audrey and I set up a table outside the room and took conflict sheets, alphabetizing them in two piles, boy and girl. When one group was finished we sent the next group in. Three people chose not to audition and five chose not to show up. It wasn't as big of a group that auditioned for West Side Story two years ago (fun fact: that was my first play backstage and the second and last play I tried out for) but I think it will fit what we need in a cast. Rock operas are sort of difficult.

Today after school is the dancing and acting audition for everyone called back from their singing audition. Then, I'm done until January.

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Sunday, December 11, 2011

TBGS: Part XXVII

Well, it's over.

Yesterday was our last night. Call time was 6:00 and Audrey and I set up props and did all that good stuff. We circled up again but we waited too long and couldn't get through all of our senior speeches that we had left before the show was supposed to start. The ushers closed the house without Fish telling them to so we were still in our circle up when we had to call 2 minutes and places. I had my mic on my side and turned it on (some actors had done a sound check earlier) but when it came time for my to make my pre-show announcement the mic didn't work. We had to start, so I took all the courage I had and went center stage and brought my script on lined yellow paper and said my announcement straight to the crowd. I got offstage and immediately went into panic mode, because our game show scene relies almost completely on a mic. The host and 3 of the contestants need to use it, so that presented a problem. I told to lighting guys on headset to tell Fish that the mic's weren't working and she came backstage and attempted to fix them. When Jack went on stage for his Rapunzel prince scene he makes horse sounds so backstage during those parts Fish tried out the mic's to see if she got them to work, which they did. So there was a louder noise than usual when the horse sounds were present.

The rest of the first act went without a hitch, the fight was fine and no one got hurt or props misplaced. Circle up continued through intermission and Audrey and I heard the tail end of it since we had to set up for the second act. It started and there was only one other problem: Dana's Cinderella dress. It was this huge pink dress Dana actually wore to prom last year and the zipper got stuck. While I ran to get safety pins Lily saved the day and got it unstuck, which was a huge relief. Otherwise, the rest of the show went on as planned.

Traditionally a senior gathers money from the cast to buy a director's gift to show how much we appreciate them. After our bow Audrey went offstage and gathered the present and flowers and signed card while Lily talked to the audience about how awesome Fish is, and she came and collected the items. Then, something unexpected and truly wonderful happened. Lily gave both Audrey and I a rose and a card that most everyone had signed saying how much they appreciated us. It had never been done before, and I was so moved. It meant so much to me. Also, Audrey's parents were so sweet because in addition to getting her flowers, they gave me a bouquet.

We talked out in the lobby with all the people that came and we cleaned up all the props and then we went on to the cast party. (Note: usually a "strike" happens the day after a show, where all the cast and crew strikes the set and props and things, but since we had a minimalistic set we aren't having one. We will distribute all the props and costumes during class times now that we don't have a play to put on).

The cast party was hosted at Lilly's house and it's always a nice bonding experience to end a show. There was Just Dance, Never Have I Ever, Truth or Truth and general conversation along with great food to end our last night of The Brothers Grimm Spectaculathon.

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Saturday, December 10, 2011

TBGS: Part XXVI (Showtime)

Yesterday = Opening Night.

I arrived at school at the call time of 5:45 and set up for the show: set all props and set pieces, headset check, asked Fish if she needed anything, gaff taped the doors so they weren't obnoxiously loud, ran to Fish's room to grab costumes (that morning during homeroom we did our Snow White/Stepmother fight on the landing to promote our play, and they had left the costumes in her room), ran a mic check, figured out that the mic's weren't working, called the choir teacher, fixed the mic's, did circle up.

Circle up is a wonderful part of the play process. It's where the director gets you fired up and says nice things about the play and the cast and reminds everyone to honor laugh lines and project and all that good stuff. Then senior speeches - all the seniors say a few words about the process and the people and the play and it's very feel-good and wonderful. We "pass the pulse": hold hands and close your eyes and then someone starts and squeezes the hand of the person next to them and it goes all the way around the circle back to the first person. The seniors of the first play of the year pick a song (this year it's "Tik Tok", last year, "Bad Romance") and we all end circle up by singing and dancing. Then, we get in places and start the show.

Fischer prepared a small script for me for my pre-show announcement (Good evening and welcome to the Westside High Theater. At this time, please silence all cell phones, electronic devices and yourselves. No flash photography please. There will be one 15 minute intermission with concessions sold in the lobby. Thank you and enjoy the show) that I read from a mic backstage and then I cued the lighting guys and the play started.

I sat on my side with my light and read the script and was on headset with Audrey and the light guys and nothing went wrong. There was a moment in the first act when a folder fell on to the stage but an actor picked it up at the end of the scene and I'm sure not many people noticed. At the beginning the actors needed to project their voices more and honor laugh lines because it's a funny show and everyone was laughing, but otherwise the actors were wonderful. At intermission Audrey and I set up for act two and we started again. The audience was loving it. We got to go out and bow at the end and it was over. We all met up with people in the lobby; I talked to my parents and friends.

As a Friday night tradition, the whole cast and crew goes to Village Inn after the show and eats breakfast or pie and talks and it's a great bonding experience. There were jokes told, and deep conversations held. Announcements all around. A nice end to a good night.

Let's do it all again tonight - although today after the show is a cast party!

Me and Audrey - the Stage Managers!

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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Dear Fellow Cast Members

[Note: This was not written by me, but sent to me by a friend. I do not know the original source or I would sight it. The following holds true for WHS]


Dear Fellow Cast Members,

No. You really are not allowed to talk backstage.

Yes, it actually is fair that they get to take your phone. You really shouldn’t need it anyway.

Really guys, no talking backstage.

How would you feel if I played with your prop and it ended up on the wrong side of the stage, and you didn’t know until it was too late?

Why would I lie about you not projecting enough?

You messed up your lines, not her, quit blaming her.

Seriously, stop talking backstage. 

NO, NARNIA IS NOT A MUSICAL.

If you can see the audience, they can see you. So stop standing there.

Stop touching the legs! 

I’m not kidding, shut up backstage.

Just because the characters are in love doesn’t mean the actors are. 

You really do get crumbs on your costume when you eat in it.

Actually it is your fault if you miss your entrance because you were in the dressing room. Especially if you were on your phone in there. And yes, we all know you were.

For the love of theater, shut your mouth when you are backstage!

The stage managers weren’t lying about props breaking when they're dropped.

Do you seriously not know how to do a curtain call? Seriously, you wait for the middle person to bow. 

Sincerely, Andrea

PS. STOP TALKING BACKSTAGE

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TBGS: Part XXV

DRESS REHEARSAL.

Tech week is upon us! This is the week where we add all the technical aspects of our show. Lights, sound (only if needed - we don't use it in TBGS), headsets (so SR, SL and the light booth can communicate), props, costumes, makeup. Yesterday was Dress Rehearsal: Day 1.

I got the headsets all working (they're quite finicky), set all of our props and costumes and reorganized backstage. We ate dinner right after school and then worked on problem areas. On Monday, when I was home sick, we had blocked the very last re-cap scene and the actors had to review that. I had Austin tape off sight lines* and had everything ready for our run.

Miss Fischer and Bill, our set guy who works at Creighton and has a wife named Carol who usually does our lights, were in the audience. I was on headset Stage Right and Audrey was Stage Left, and we started. The first act ran about 45 minutes, same as the second act. Unfortunately, the show was fairly sloppy. Lines and cues were dropped, and although it can most likely be blamed on just focusing on our one act for a week, it's the actors job to look over everything and get it right.

I had an experience with an actor who decided to not listen to me and mess with another person's prop, and he got a talking to from Fish. You don't mess with a stage manager. If we weren't there, the show would suffer. Take today, for example. Rehearsal is in three hours, and I'm at home. I didn't go to school today, but I'm sure as heck going to dress rehearsal, because it would fall apart without me or Audrey.

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*Sight Lines: the lines of sight from the extreme sides of the auditorium and from the rear of the balcony that determine the limit of the area on stage in which action can take place and be visible to the entire audience (actors have to be behind the sight lines to not be seen from the audience while backstage)

Monday, December 5, 2011

TBGS: Part XXIV (One Act Competition)

Hello! I am writing this post from my house, as I am sick today. This is the first time I have missed class or rehearsal.

Saturday. Met up with the rest of the cast and crew at WHS at 7:45 in the morning, located our bus, did roll call and we were on our way to Bellevue East. Fish, Audrey and I talked about the play up in the front of the bus while there was much singing and some sleeping in the back. The weather forecast wasn't good but this early in the morning the roads were clear. We arrived and went into the lobby of the auditorium where we got a purple "CT" (for the Bellevue East Chieftains) marked on our hands to signify that we could get into the theater for free. Then we were showed to our homeroom where we deposited our coats and went to the auditorium to see the 9:00 play. We had missed the 8:00 play.

The first play we saw was called Rumpelstiltskin and featured six actors. As this is purely an opinion you can feel free to disregard my thought, but I thought this play was not very well done. The story dragged on and the costumes were bizarre. The next one we sat through was The Seussification of Romeo and Juliet. Unlike the first, this one was wonderfully done. The costumes were true to Dr. Seuss and the story was hilarious (spoiler alert - Romeo and Juliet didn't die at the end) and it all rhymed. Next, Up the Down Staircase. I also very much enjoyed this one. It was a large cast and was set in a classroom. Well done. Then lunch. And the next one was our biggest rival and they did "Home on the Mornin' Train" - a drama set in 1939 featuring not only kids escaping the Holocaust but also African Americans escaping slavery with the Underground Railroad. It was also very well done.

The next play - us. My heart had been fluttering the entire time leading up to our turn. As soon as Home on the Mornin' Train was done we rushed onto the stage and began unloading our many props and costumes. I spiked the stage a bit and then was running around getting things set up. I dropped my bag off as my stage manager booth stage right and then unloaded my props and answered questions the actors were shooting at me and checked in with Audrey and then, seven minutes before we began, we had a circle up. And then...we started. It was exhilarating. I started my timer and looked through lines to see if we were keeping good time while looking at my monitor showing the stage to make sure nothing was going terribly wrong. And nothing did. Well, there was a block in front of the trampoline for our fight scene, but an actor remedied that. So, besides that nothing went wrong. Our final time? 29 minutes and 11 seconds! After finishing a wonderful run, we quickly packed up all our things and then headed to the judging room to hear feedback from the three judges (all men).

They all talked to us individually. I don't remember exactly what they said but we found out later what they ranked us over all.

After our show we watched Six Characters in Search of an Author which was...quite confusing. I did not understand at all what was going on the entire time. Afterwards we looked up the synopsis and attempted to figure it out, and we got somewhere but it's still unclear. The final play was I Never Saw Another Butterfly. It was another Holocaust play. It was good, but admittedly not as good as earlier ones.

Then we had to wait for the awards. After an impromptu and awkward dance party (Bellevue East played songs from their sound system before awards) the Bellevue East teacher gave out outstanding actor awards for each school (we had quite a few) and then told us the runner up: The Seussification of Romeo and Juliet and finally, the winner: Home on the Mornin' Train.


We packed our stuff, got on the bus and it was then when Fish told us that we received fourth place out of eight schools. The first judge gave us third place, the second gave us seventh, and the third gave us fourth. The second judge, it seemed, only had nice things to say until we got to the back page of his feedback: "NO TEXTING DURING THE CRITIQUE". Apparently, our lights guy, not even enrolled on theater 3 at all, was texting during our critique. The order of the rest of the schools were: third - Up the Down Staircase, fourth - The Brothers Grimm Spectaculathon, fifth - Six Characters in Search of an Author, sixth - I Never Saw Another Butterfly, seventh - Rumpelstiltskin, eighth - Bridge to Terabithia (the play we missed at the beginning).

After the bus ride in the deep snow that came down throughout the day we got back to school, unloaded everything, and went home.

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Friday, December 2, 2011

TBGS: Part XXIII

In approximately twelve hours, I will be on my way to school where all actors are going to meet up and take a bus to our one act competition.

Suffice to say that I am freaking out a little bit.

Today right after school we ran the whole one act show in its entirety and the time was *drumroll* 28 minutes and 42 seconds! That is a wonderful, wonderful time. Then Fish gave notes and we loaded up every prop and costume we use for our show into a truck and then we ran through some areas that needed work and then we left. Audrey and I packed our toolbox full of everything we need (gaff tape, bobby pins, safety pins, scissors, sewing kit, sharpies, pens, pencils, erasers, sticky notes, spike take, masking tape, painters tape, FIRST AID, tape measure, screw drivers, notecards, scotch tape, cough drops, wire cutters, boxcutter, black spray paint and a glue gun) and it all fit perfectly.

I'm not sure when I'll get the blog post up about how our competition went, but it's not likely it will be tomorrow. A full day of theatre means a night of relaxing.

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