From Page To Stage: The birth of Artless Charlie – Part 25

4/9/03

Tonight we had our one and only final dress, and things went better than I had expected.  With the exception of some missed cues and a few line flubs, the only real concern I had was about pulling together a few scenes and getting the actors to play through the action.  For example, in 1.1, Dan and Evelyn were still moving a little slow, but I think that’s just because they are starting the play off. I  told them to make sure that they come in with the same intensity as the rest of the show in order to get the play off on the right foot.  I reinforced the point that the first important moment in that scene doesn’t occur until Charlie mentions that he is wearing his father’s sweater.  They need to make sure that they move right through the moments before, and play up until that point about the sweater.

Dan and Andrew skipped over about 2 pages of dialogue in the third scene of the first act, but we discussed it after the run and they assured me it wouldn’t happen again. Seeing as there isn’t much I could do either way, I put my faith in them to be on top of it tomorrow and moved on.  I was really impressed with how well Evelyn did tonight.  She was really in the moment more than I have ever seen her.  I think that these last few days off gave her some time to ruminate on the copious amount of direction I’ve been giving her over the past month and a half and the result was really moving. I was especially touched by her big speech to Charlie in the second act.  She hit every emotional note in that speech tonight and it truly impressed me.  Kirsten was also in excellent form tonight. Though I am not as surprised seeing how she is consistently very good, her speech to Charlie in the fight scene tonight had me on the verge of tears.

As for the run itself, we had three audience members in attendance that could not attend either performance, and I think that helped the cast a lot. The actors were able to see moments where they might not have anticipated audience laughter and prepare themselves to compensate for that tomorrow.  When I entered the theater at about five thirty this evening to prepare the space, I was disappointed to find that Sarah N had neglected to remove the rest of the props and set pieces from her show.  Only after numerous last minute phone calls from my stage manager were we able to get someone to move a few of the items out of the space.  I was disappointed by this, since our cast and crew sacrificed a lot of our own time to make sure that she could prepare for her show.  It is too bad that no one could return the favor.  I placed the multiple curtains, props, beams doorframes and other items in the lobby for her to move, but the electric piano and her entire rack of costumes remained.  I can only hope that these will be removed by tomorrow so that we might be able to have a free space for our opening night.

This dress rehearsal was also productive for me in the sense that I discovered a few things that I had not previously noticed.  For instance, there were two occasions that Chris left props on stage that he should have taken with him on an exit, and I discovered that by leaving them, we could create a moment out of it.  For instance, Chris left the menus on the table in 1.2, and when he came back out for his second entrance in the scene, Dan held them up to Chris during one of Walter’s long awkward pauses.  This was a funny moment and it also reinforced the point that Walter really isn’t that good of a waiter anyway.  I was pleased to see that the overall running time, with intermission, was right about two hours. That’s right where we need to be.

So, after going over a few of these notes with my cast and clearing up any technical confusions with my stage manager, I feel like we are in good shape to open tomorrow. Still, if we could’ve had at least one more dress rehearsal I think we would be more ready, but I’m confident that the show will go up successfully tomorrow.  I know that we’ve put in all the time we possibly could’ve on getting to the right places emotionally, and making clear the relationships that each character has with one another, it is the fine tuning that we have to sacrifice now.  That last-minute polishing, the tightening of the belt so to speak, could happen magically when the cast finally gets a real audience out there, but even if it doesn’t, it will still be a solid show.  I had a little pow-wow with the cast afterwards and tried to make it clear to them how wonderful a job I thought they were all doing.  I told them how much it meant to me that they put in the monumental effort that this show demanded, and did so without a single complaint . I am truly proud of this group and I couldn’t have asked for a harder working ensemble.

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