Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Sound of Music - So Begins Production Week

Production week, otherwise known as "tech week," (also known as "hell week") for The Sound of Music is about to begin. I'm so excited - yet terribly, terribly sad that it will all be over soon.

The cast has become a family. There are three casts of Von Trapp kids, and they've all grown close, but the cast I get to work with for their two shows has become particularly close. I love to watch them and listen to them, because they really are a family now. I'm going to miss all of these wonderful people so much when the show is over.

But it's too soon to be thinking about the end. :)

Production week is the best part of a show in this company. For one thing, there's the theater. Most of us have already been in this theater before, but that doesn't make it any less exciting to stand outside, waiting for the doors to open and rehearsals onstage to begin. Being there makes us realize just how close we are to opening. And then, there's getting to see everyone every day for a week. Then there are the uncomfortable things like sore feet from standing for hours at a time, and the smell of hairspray, and wearing too much make-up, and being utterly weary in mind and body- all of these things are exciting during production week and performances. And there are the times when everything looks like a total disaster. But somehow it all comes together by the first show.

Say a prayer for us all.

Friday, June 11, 2010

One last Pride & Prejudice post, some small news and a slight digression

It always makes me so sad to leave the world of Jane Austen. You have no idea how tempted I am to pick up Pride & Prejudice and simply start reading it all over again. Now the only Jane books I haven't read this year are Mansfield Park, Northanger Abbey, and Persuasion. And I'm barely halfway through the year! I'm going to have to break my rule of not reading the same books twice in one year, methinks.

But let me blog Pride & Prejudice once more before I move on. And once more, I will connect it to The Sound of Music.

There are many scary things about playing a lead role, not the least of which is: the looooove scenes. ;) (Particularly when you have younger siblings in the room) Personally, I think the relationship of Maria and Captain Von Trapp is not quite so important as Maria's relationship with the family as a whole, but it is still very important. So I was talking it over with my voice teacher. She was saying to me, "The thing about this relationship is that it really snuck up on Maria. She always thought of the Captain one way - and then suddenly, here she is, thinking of him in an entirely different way."

Oh, I couldn't help myself. I pulled my beautiful, hardbound book out of my purse and waved it around. "Pride & Prejudice!" I said.

"Oh! Yes!" said my voice teacher. "Yes, perfect example! Mr. Darcy is actually a really good correspondent for the Captain." We talked about how the specifics of the stories and the characters involved are very different of course, but there is still that common theme of being surprised by finding out who someone really is, and of being surprised by love.

And inwardly I was just saying, "Yesssssss." It was great that I could even find a way to fit Pride & Prejudice into a conversation with my teacher - even better that we could draw parallels from Lizzy & Darcy to the love story I'm portraying right now.

(And I'm going to go on a tangent right now and say this: We were watching the Cathy Rigby recording of Peter Pan the musical on YouTube, and it made me smile that the audience cheered every time Peter flew through the Darling's window. It made me think - I hear that there were a lot of screams and cheers in the theaters when Robert Pattinson showed up onscreen as Edward in Twilight. And it got me thinking - why don't we do the same for Mr. Darcy? And once I began to wonder this, I remembered that there have been several stage versions of Pride & Prejudice, some of them musicals. See this website: and this one: I think the perfect Pride & Prejudice musical would all come down to this: when Darcy enters the ballroom at Meryton, he would have to freeze for a full minute while every female in the audience clapped her hands raw and cheered her throat hoarse. Darcy has been a sort of icon long before Edward Cullen and Peter Pan were around. I think he deserves nothing less. Three cheers for Mr. Darcy! )

And on another note, take a look at the About The Musical page on the second P&P link. Are not the song names too perfect for words? It's like some kind of joke - "My Reasons For Marrying." "My Poor Nerves!" "I Can't Resist A Redcoat!")

Now that all that is out of the way, some other news of interest:

Full run-through of Sound of Music last night = much more encouraging than our last run through! The energy level was higher, and everything is just generally coming together. I'm nervous for the shows - but I'm also incredibly excited!

And rehearsals have started for Taming of the Shrew. I really don't want to talk about that right now, though. I feel like crying every time I think that I have rehearsals for both this show and Sound of Music every day (give or take a day or two) until... July? Pray for me. It's not that it's not going to be fun. It's just going to be really really hard... and exhausting... Even without "Shrew," my schedule would be pretty hectic - throw in another show that opens only a few days after the first, and it's basically insanity. Please please please don't ask how the heck I'm going to do it. I have to do it. So I'll find a way.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Dancing - and those possessed of two left feet

(Another post from the midst of Jane-land)

The two first dances, however, brought a return of distress; they were dances of mortification. Mr. Collins, awkward and solemn, apologising instead of attending, and often moving wrong without being aware of it, gave her all the shame and misery which a disagreeable partner for a couple of dances can give. The moment of her release from him was exstacy.

Dancing. With partners. Of the opposite sex. Many teenagers would find this distinctly unnerving. I know I did, when I was in my first musical (The Music Man). Luckily for me, there were more girls than there were boys (aren't there always?). The dances worked with boy-girl and girl-girl couples, and I ended up dancing with my sister for the show.

Due to the multiple casting, I'm spending three shows dancing in the Sound of Music ensemble. I love this system - I had a horror of being just one of the crowd before I danced in The Music Man ensemble, but now I've learned to love it. It's a different sort of acting, and it's often just as important. For Sound of Music, girl-girl partnering for the dancing is NOT acceptable. For one thing, there's a dip at the end of one dance. And if you think about the situations we're dancing in - in one scene, a big party - that really requires boy-girl partners. So each week we girls must leave our shyness at home and not be afraid to say to the boys, "Hey, wanna be partners?" Yes, I know, that's not the way it should be. It's so unlike the days of Jane Austen when the gentleman courteously engaged the young lady for the next dance. But since the boys do not take the initiative in finding partners, the director's tune has changed from "Guys, grab a girl," to: "Girls, grab a guy."

Choosing a partner can be a tricky business. Sometimes it's just a matter of who is left over after all the best dancers are picked. Sometimes it's a matter of "No, I am NOT dancing with the guy singing Sombody to Love in a falsetto voice." Height must be taken into consideration. My younger sister is so fortunate as to be especially chummy with one of the boys around her height and she always dances with him. Until the other night, when we were assigned our partners for the show, I really don't know if she danced with anyone else since rehearsals began. And I don't blame her. He's a very good dancer. Past experience with Certain People narrows down the list of possibilities a great deal(see anecdote under "often moving wrong without being aware of it" down below).

I myself have become a tolerable dancer since I first began. I have been put in the first row onstage in two shows - this was a huge confidence booster way back when I wasn't so confident about my dancing. To own the truth, I dance with more animation than real skill. My feet go where I want them to go, and they go there with great spirit, but I won't be winning any prizes for my uncommon gracefulness.

But I am a good enough dancer to be sensible of the discomfort that comes from dancing with a partner who seems to have two left feet. I have had my share of those "Mr. Collins" dancing partners.

"Awkward and solemn" - You could smile at me a little bit. I promise I won't think it means you're in love with me. And believe it or not, we are supposed to be touching each other. Once I danced with a guy who was either a terrible dancer, really nervous, or thought his girlfriend was watching. His hand was at least six inches from my waist. And then of course there are the not-so-solemn partners who always want to talk, prompting me to think of another quote from - guess where! "Do you talk by rule, then, while dancing?" My sister's assigned dancing partner seems very solemn indeed. She says he is most certainly of "an unsociable and taciturn disposition."

"Apologising instead of attending" - Once, a guy was trying to dip me. I could tell as I was going down that he wasn't supporting me enough. It is not pleasant to discover that your partner is not going to dip you properly when you're already halfway down. So I just sort of gently lowered myself to the floor, rather than lose my balance and fall ungracefully. So there I was, lying on the floor, laughing at the absurdity of the situation as the music ended. My partner was profusely apologetic. I really think he felt bad... he certainly wasn't laughing when he said "sorry" about six times. But I was uninjured, and it was certainly less embarrassing than it could have been.

"And often moving wrong without being aware of it" - By far my wildest dancing partner story is this: We were dancing the Grand Waltz. This is danced at the party at the end of Act 1, and the melody is a waltz version of My Favorite Things. I am usually very patient with my partners. Not everyone can learn the dances quickly - I've definitely been there! But this guy was really trying my patience. We twisted around, he saying, "No, get over there! Aaahhh!!! This is NOT one of my favorite things! No, that's wrong. Ah, crap!" I was trying to guide him as best as I could. Then, in the middle of the dance, he broke away and had, to all appearances, a tantrum. He just sort of ... shrieked... and flapped his arms around. I was horrified.

"I'm sorry," he said, "I just had to get that out of my system."
"Well now it's out," I said, "So please don't do it again!"

It was indeed a dance of mortification.

I'm always relieved when we learn who our permanent dancing partners are. Even though it's not such a big deal to find a partner for myself anymore, I like to be told who to dance with. We found out a few nights ago, and my partner is really not a bad sort. He's friendly enough (without being overly-chatty), doesn't swear when he misses a step, generally knows what he's doing, and can dip me quite competently.

All the discomfort and unpleasantness of finding a partner, getting your toes stepped on (or getting whacked in the face, or arm, or stomach, or ear), and standing for prolonged periods of time with your arms around each other aside, these dances have an old-fashioned grace and pattern that do make me feel like I could be at a ball at Meryton. Oftentimes I have been obliged to sit down due to the scarcity of gentlemen in the room, and this gives me leave to observe the people before me. Sometimes I even think I can find Pride & Prejudice correspondants for some of the people I see. There are no Mr. Darcys (our boys are forced to give consequence to young ladies who have been slighted by other gentleman - or weren't quick enough claiming a fellow). There are no Mrs. Bennets - thank Heaven! There are Charlotte Lucases, to share our dancing woes with. My sister is surely Jane Bennet, and her favorite partner is Mr. Bingley, who offended several young ladies by not asking them to dance (but they are not in love, I assure you all). There are, perhaps, Lydias and Kittys, but you didn't hear it from me. I'm sure there are Mary Bennets, who should infinitely prefer a book. There are Mr. Collinses to be sure. And every girl is, in her own way, a Lizzy Bennet.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

My life is being swallowed by Pride & Prejudice. Again. Everytime I read it, or watch the movie, I constantly slip quotes into conversations, blog posts, journal entries, Facebook statuses. Maybe you've noticed?

I would like it to be known that I now have an "Emmy" label. Haha, this makes me laugh for some reason. She should feel proud.

I would also like it to be made known that a really really long blog post (about dancing... and Pride & Prejudice...) is forthcoming. Expect it tomorrow or the next day. (*whispers* It does not much signify when.) I think it's very amusing, but I must not decide on my own performance.

On a non-Austen note, my dad and brother brought home some tadpoles from the creek. Mixed in with the tadpoles were some mosquito larvae (yeugh). So we bought some guppies at the pet store to eat them. We named them Mr. Guppy and Mr. Barnacle... in tribute to Charles Dickens: Mr. Guppy of Kenge and Carboys (Bleak House) and ... one of the numerous Barnacles of the Circumlocution Office (Little Dorrit). The only thing I love so much as a good Jane Austen miniseries is a good Dickens miniseries. :)

And now, I have delighted you long enough. Farewell, until another time.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

More Pride & Prejudice (reclaiming the classic and utterly darling artwork)

Pride and Prejudice Without Zombies at "Reclaiming the Classic." I started my re-read half a month ahead of the event, but I'll still be following the blog. I'm a huge fan of anything without zombies, so this should be great. ;)

Pride & Prejudice illustrations by an Italian artist. No matter how much of a purist you are, no matter how much the idea of P&P as a Marvel comic revolts you, who could help but be delighted with these colorful and comical illustrations of the story!? Click on the different places on the map to see the pictures that go with each location. (Personal favorites: Mr. Collins wagging his tail at Lady Catherine at Rosings, Lizzy and Wickham envisioning Mr. Darcy with horns and a pitchfork at Meryton, Lizzy's petticoat "six inches deep in mud" at Netherfield Mr. Darcy offering his heart to Lizzy at Hunsford, Mr. Darcy in his pond... with a smitten frog atop his head!) Each illustration is accompanied by an appropriate quote from the novel. And I'm not certain, but I believe the page is a work in progress, so keep checking back for new illustrations.