Sunday, March 21, 2010

Worries Falling Away...

I'm exhausted this evening. I've felt SO stressed for the past week, worrying about this presentation that the KidsPlayers were to make for the Hancock Community Foundation. There were costumes to finish up, lines to be learned...the details for the event were one knew exactly what the timeline for the event would be because no one knew how long any of the acts prior to our performance would take. And then I had an untried actor as my lead...a very talented young man, but undisciplined in the ways of character and the use of the actor's tools. And I had no idea how he would react in front of a crowd.

We spent a great deal of time last week working on just the scene we were presenting--the timing, the lines, the bigger-than-life characters I was asking for... We even went down to the theatre one evening to walk through it a few times.

And then yesterday--a very busy day. We moved the Gallery in the morning, and the preview performance was in the afternoon. My actors showed up in plenty of time--one concern alleviated. They looked GREAT in their costumes--another hurdle down. We ran the scene out back a couple of times and all the lines and characterization were there). Finally, it was time to do it in front of the crowd--and it went spectacularly. My leads gelled, they meshed, the shone!!! And I could feel my worries falling away, my shoulders straightening, my smile returning.

Ladies and gentlemen, we have a show!!

Plot Summary of "Oklahoma"

Now don't get me wrong.  I LOVE the musical theatre.  I never tire of those old Rodgers & Hammerstein musicals, the Lerner & Lowe gems.   I truly believe that musical theatre enhances my quality of life like nothing else.  Still, looking at "Oklahoma", one has to reflect at just how simplistic the plot for this delightful classic is....

True to expected male behavior, Curly shows up ON the day of the box social to ask Laurey to go with him.  He disses her; she sasses him.  He paints her this fantastical castle-in-the-air lie about taking her to the box social in some pimped-up carriage and when it turns out not to be true, she is pissed and promptly marches straight to the smoke house to strut her stuff in front of the creepy, sullen hired hand, Jud.  What Jud’s issues are, I’m not sure, but I suspect they’re related to the displacement of Native Americans from their homeland by the Oklahoma Land Rush.  In any case, Jud asks Laurey to the Box Social; she inexplicably agrees to go.

A ‘Box Social’ is apparently an event where, upon walking through the door, everyone immediately forgets with whom they came with because the apex of the evening involves bidding on various picnic baskets and then leaving with the owner of said picnic basket as arm candy.  Laurey came with Jud, Curly came with that harpy skank, Aunt Eller.  Of course, Laurey’s basket is the last one to be bid upon and, until the very end, it looks like Jud is going to be the victor.  Curly takes note of Laurey’s terror at being ‘won’ by Jud (even though this WHOLE scenario is HER fault) and proceeds to sell off all of his personal effects to members of the crowd (his saddle, his horse, AND his gun, which we suspect he may regret later) in order to outbid Jud and win Laurey’s goodies (so to speak).  Curly does manage to persevere and, in spite of having ransomed all of his available means of support (saddle, horse, gun), he and Laurey run off stage to wedded bliss.

The final scene finds Laurey and Curly about to go off on their honeymoon when Jud shows up.  Curly decks him with just one punch, and the drunken klutz falls on his own knife and dies.  For some reason, this is Curly’s fault and he’s due to be arrested and go on trial for murder.  Ten minutes before they’re to hop the train for their honeymoon, someone in the crowd who professes to be a judge (ah, the justice system in the old west) pronounces Curly not guilty.  “Never mind the furthermore, the plea is self-defense.”

Finally, finally, after suffering through petulant female performances, chauvinistic male posturing, and those tedious ballet interludes, we are treated to “Oklahoma”, the finale, for which we’ve waited the entire performance.  We immediately forget about all that and leave with a bright golden haze on our meadows and a song in our hearts.  The end.

Next up:  Ado Annie—Pre-Feminist Role Model or Frontier Slut.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Crossing the Bridge

I usually call this moment 'turning the corner', but because we're using Eileen Ivers' "Crossing the Bridge" as part of our musical interlude collection, THAT'S what I will call it this time.

I always have to write about this moment because it never ceases to be magical for me.  Every show starts with such high hopes.  I cast to the best of my ability, filling the parts with just the right people, and we rehearse--regularly, plodding along, running the scenes, adding to them, building them, putting in 'bits'.  We work and work and work, and suddenly, we reach a crisis moment.  I'm so stressed by rehearsal, pressured by self-imposed deadlines, trying to reach seemingly unfathomable standards for performance, character development, and actor's skill.

It seems especially difficult this show.  It seems like show after show, I pound home the idea that 'you are a real person, with real feelings, real language, real reactions...'  But this time, I've asked them to be something different.  Our spoof fairy tale requires larger than life characters, big Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd mugging, double-takes, asides to the audience, over the top reactions and movements.  That, combined with comedic timing, lines and blocking has made this show a pretty big challenge.  But...they're getting it.  Slowly but surely, they're getting it!!

We're doing a scene for the Hancock County Community Foundation's event on Sunday.  I've been so nervous, because I knew we weren't good.  Not up to our usual standard.  What we had was ordinary, amateurish, child-like.  But last night, the magical moment came...with patience, hands-on directing, and repetition, it came.  Working with my leads on the scene we're going to do--it clicked.  It was funny.  The parents I had in the audience laughed.  *I* laughed.  The timing was there, the playing to the audience, the facial expressions, everything!!  And it makes this week's restless, toss-and-turn nights, the stressful, high tension days TOTALLY worth it.

We have a show!!  My Kids are BEAUTIFUL, WONDERFUL, TALENTED...  They never cease to amaze me. Mmwahh, my KidsPlayers!!!  ***  I adore you!