Well, it’s over. We opened The Drowsy Chaperone last night and it was a bit surreal but actually fun. I have no sense of the Vancouver audiences in general, never mind opening night audiences. It sounded like they were enjoying it from the beginning but it wasn’t boisterous. It would come in spurts. There were some things they found incredibly funny and other things they would be “amused” by. But it all seemed in the right spirit. My first scene got an okay response. I had a bit of a repeat of the feeling I had at our invited dress rehearsal – which was that they didn’t quite know what to do with me yet in that scene. And in all fairness, I felt like I was on the edge of pushing a little bit but not a lot.
But . . I think I had them by the time I did my number. I could really feel them on the ride then. . . unless I’m totally delusional, which is entirely possible. But it got a good response at the end. It’s always a little hard to tell. As performers, you get this rush of “blank sound” at the end of doing a big number where it doesn’t sound real because you’ve just had the orchestra (okay, band) and your own voice blaring in your ears so you can’t really tell what the sound of the audience response was. I think it was a pretty good response.
Anyway, after that, I felt like they were with me and I got the laughs where they should have been and a lovely response on my curtain call. This role really is a gift for the person playing Aldolpho. You sort of have carte blanche to do anything. But you have such great clues as to who he is, you can just keep digging and creating. “A former silent movie star, raging alcoholic, scenery chewing, poodle-raising, latino doing a musical in the 1920’s” Please!! Tell me that isn’t a whole picnic of merriment.
There was an after-party in the lobby. That was an even wilder experience. The one thing that stood out for me in particular at the party was that a lot of the folks coming up to me to tell me how much they enjoyed Aldolpho (I’m not bragging, it’s just what happened), all strangers, almost automatically or soon thereafter hugged me. I was so touched by that. One, because I love hugs from strangers (no, noone call a therapist). And two because I think they found Aldolpho endearing in his belief that he is “giving” to the production with his great (and by “great”, I mean “terrible”) acting. And the one thing that I loved about Aldolpho when I read the script is that he’s a “sweet” idiot. He’s not just a buffoon. He’s actually really lovable and probably has a big heart. Of course, I realize I may just be projecting but the proof is in the puddin’. . . . or, I guess in the huggin’. (I’m not sure why that comment calls for the leaving off of the “g’s” but it does . . . work with me. It’s a flavour I’m going for.) Anyway, that’s my theory. I feel really happy that people seemed to be touched by him, even by how funny they found him.
Aaaannnd, I’m really surprised by how many of the details I worked on that people got and pointed out at the party. That was awesome. Just things like . . “stock” hand moves and facial expressions that Roman Bartelli would have used in his movies. Oh . . .who’s Roman Bartelli, you ask? Hmmmm. . . . well for those of you who don’t know the show, we play performers in the 1920’s, playing characters in a musical. So I play a former silent movie star named Roman Bartelli who is playing a character named Aldolpho in a musical called The Drowsy Chaperone in 1928. So physically and vocally, I made choices that Roman Bartelli thinks are good acting choices for the stage in 1928. Layers, my friends, layers. LOL
The buzz was good. Our musical director apparently said to our choreographer that in all his time (some 20 years +) at the theatre, he has never had such outrageously positive comments at an afterparty. I so hope it translates into positive buzz for the Playhouse and for Max (our director and the new Artistic Director of the Playhouse). I know the arts here are having a hard time in BC as witnessed by the trouble the ballet is in. The arts will always struggle but the arts will never die. Whether people choose to believe it or not, art is how the soul of society soldiers through everything else. The spark of creation may dim but it can never be extinguished. It’s life itself.
One of my castmates gave everyone a great quote from Arther Miller last night (along with a tiny gift bag of gumballs and suckers – gotta love balance)
“When the cannons have stopped firing, and the great victories of finance are reduced to surmise and are long forgotten, it is the art of the people that will confront future generations. The arts can do more to sustain the peace than all the wars, the armaments and the threats and warnings of the politicians.”
Live it and love it, y’all.