Friday, February 20, 2009

opening night

in sixth grade, i was in my first musical.  "wheels" was great fun in which i played a caveman named 'rock' who was married to 'martha'.  rock discovered the wheel and in an homage to gilbert and sullivan proclaimed, "why martha it's a wheel.  it's got to be a wheel.  i'd stake my reputation on this quick evaluation.  i don't need substantiation.  it's a wheel!"  

so on the afternoon of the opening of "wheels" i asked our director when we were going to do a dress rehearsal.  she responded, "tonight!"  that put a small bit of trepidation into my system.  little did i know that this would be preparation for my first new york theater experience.  

until last night, i was in rehearsals for the off off broadway production of "land of the babydolls" by kristine hipps and lauren cavenaugh.  they have written a parody of the 1960's movie, "valley of the dolls" which followed the lives of a few performers and a secretary in new york city as they got involved in sex, drugs, and success.  i play 'tiger bedfellow', an entertainment agent involved in the lives of these people and as his name suggests, he relates well.  the story follows the rise and fall of 'stevie o'mara'.  starting as an obscure singer in the show of big star, 'stella dawson' she eventually becomes a big star herself before making drug choices that bring her down.  while a comedy/parody, it's a story that tells the truth, as well.  

because of the low budget nature of off off broadway productions, being able to buy the time in the actual theater space is difficult until the week of the show.  for us this meant one day this week before opening for our tech rehearsal in which lights get set, we figure out all the scene changes, and where we were putting various set pieces, etc.  what this means is, opening night was our first actual run through!  how fun!!  and fun it was.  this is a tremendous cast that is able to roll with anything and we did.  

another fun aspect to the off off broadway theater, at least in this case, is the backstage changing area.  all 13 of us actors were in a space smaller than my freshman dorm room.  there are a few chairs in front of small mirrors.  the portable racks for hanging all the costumes which aren't quite big enough for everything (a couple of the ladies had 14 costume changes).  the backstage/dressing room/green room is where everyone becomes close friends.

as a first experience in new york theater playing to a sold out and overflowing house, i have nothing to compare it to.  this is now the bar that everything to come will have to stack up against.  i can only hope to be surrounded by the same level of talent and performing passion in the future.  if you're in the area, i can promise you two and a half hours of solid entertainment.  "call me...tiger."


Lainey said...
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Lainey said...

Who played Martha in Wheels? Was it Gwen? I can still hear your little 6th grade voice singing with such conviction..."Why Martha it's a wheel! ..." Your arms swinging. That room seemed so big at the time.
Proud of you, bro. SO sad to miss your stage debut in the big city. love, E