Wednesday, February 13, 2013

It's.......SHOW TIME!

I have now survived two rehearsals of “Cabaret”, the first was Sunday night, the first time for the musicians to meet and to play together, and the first for the cast to get to act, sing, and dance to more than a piano or a recording. Everybody seemed happy with it all, adjustments were made, mistakes were made, but I think the come-away-from-it feeling was happiness on the parts of the actors who now have more of a sense of it really happening. The second go was Monday night, a complete run through this time with costumes, lights, tech, etc. Each time things are tweaked, tightened, streamlined, and the excitement builds. Opening night looms and approaches soon.

 It must be mentioned that since this play is set in a time and place of tawdriness and debauchery and this is about a seedy little club with dancers of questionable virtues, their costumes reflect this and there is a lot of skin showing, lots of black lace, and thigh high fish net stockings. To wear these costumes is not for the modest nor for the faint of heart, but, having worked their butts off, literally, over the past few months rehearsing, the dancers look great and owe how well they look in them to what my daughter mentioned as the “Cabaret” Diet. There are few things that would motivate me more to get toned up and fit if I knew that I had to fit into short pants and fish nets and I shudder with the thought. 

My daughter, who rooked me into the drumming gig, looks absolutely fabulous, and is in her element once again. I have watched her dance in many a role from being a little drummer boy,  a gypsy, a swan, various classical pieces during her ballet career, but I don’t think I have seen her embrace a role as a dancer as much as this of being a Kit Kat Girl. As she told me not too long ago, that during rehearsal one night it occurred to her, that she was really and actually dancing in “Cabaret” possibly her all time favorite musical. To watch her now I see her channeling her inner Liza, with her flare, drama, with those signature gestures. This is her dream role and she is making it happen. My admiration and my awe for her increases.  

Most regrettably, I had my own version of a quick weight loss plan yesterday with a nasty acquired stomach bug, possibly from grand baby sitting over the weekend, who knows. I spent the complete day in a fetal cocoon on the sofa sipping tiny sips of water, slipping in and out of weird dreams or deliriums, completely unsure which was which,  all with the soundtrack of the play in loop running through my foggy, head. I was relieved of duty for rehearsal last night , no doubt to protect the not ill, and I am not sure whether I feel better or worse that my drumming was apparently not missed , but it does take some of the pressure off though that my drumming presence might not cause as much havoc and disaster with the dancers as I had envisioned possible.

Thankfully for all, the band is under no obligation to wear any form of revealing outfits as we are hidden from the audience behind a wall with doors, which are used for characters go through to enter and to leave the stage. I had really wanted to have seen my daughter, and the rest, do the play from a seat out front, but having joined on as drummer and being seated with the band, ours is a limited perspective on the performance out front. From this vantage point though, I am getting to see things that the folks out front do not. Not being an actor, I have really not been aware of the extent of the smoke and mirrors used to fulfill the imagination in the audience and make them buy in to this moment of fantasy and reality. It is impressive, too, the Herculean amount of work a massive amount of people do to put on a play and this one is no exception.

What I have found fascinating to watch from my vantage of backstage voyeurism, is the ballet of the actors as they go on to do their parts on stage, quickly move to a costume change, return, trying to not get in the way of another actor entering or leaving the stage, and all of this, in the silent darkness. I see the faces in quiet reflection as they delve into that place where they can tap into that character they are creating. It is mind boggling to me how much stuff they have to remember and bring to life between lines, songs, dancing, and where to be at what time, etc. It is beyond my scope, but fun to watch in action. I see too the sweetness between the actors, the support between each other. They are all hanging it out there and are all vulnerable, and each seems to comfort the others, some more playfully than others, and some with a touch of quiet unspoken affection.

One key element along the way that has helped make the decision for me to keep trying to learn the drum parts and to stay on board has been the strength of the leadership of the Director, Randy Foster. His vigilance to detail, his ability to make a decision, and demand it be carried out, and his control over what sometimes seems like a bunch of playful puppies has been impressive and a huge reason I think this play is going to be fantastic. He has been encouraging without coddling, cuts no slack with anyone, and has reminded me a bit of dealing with my father in my past. One might not always agree, but one doesn’t question the leader to lead. This performance is his canvas, a painting of actors, tech folks, stage sets, and downward to a bumbling uneducated drummer. Randy is making this one happen, and my hat is off to him.  

Tonight is the last rehearsal before opening night. Having made it back from my near death ordeal yesterday I will return to my tiny post next to my fellow musicians and try to do what I can to help. I am audaciously playing with real musicians, trained to read charts and follow measures and my own lack of education in trying to learn the complexity of the score there has been a challenge to come to this point, but, my years of playing slouchy blues in smoky bars perhaps will bring its own flavor to the mix in other areas. As my husband told me when I was stressing about the whole project was, that we as the band would be bullet proof in emulating a seedy little club bar  because the perfection would be in the imperfection of the songs, not the perfect orchestration of a classical piece. That’s an interesting and somewhat relieving perspective. Perhaps he is right, and I will try to keep that in mind as I bumble along in this fun adventure I have succumbed to.

The news was just posted that the first week's run is a sell out and the second week closing in. Very exciting news for this fledgling playhouse and all who have worked so hard to make it happen.

It is finally,  and almost....."Show time!”

photo credit for the nice shot of Emily in the chair goes to Edward Fieder. The rest go to Emily's dad, Mark Dauber.

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