It’s been so crazy busy I haven’t had a chance to really sit down and write something. But here I am on Boxing Day and I finally have some time to myself to jot down some thoughts of how it’s been going.
I had a wig fitting the other day and . . . . WOOHOO, it’s awesome. It wasn’t totally finished yet but it had been roughly styled for the designer to have a look. The shape is great, the streak is fantastic. It’s sort of Cesar Romero on steroids. Seriously, it’s wonderful And I think the sideburns are my favourite of all three hair versions I’ve now worn for this role. Isaac (wig maker/wig designer), Charlotte Dean (costume designer) and myself laughed so hard we all had tears in our eyes. And the mustache hadn’t been cut yet but the shape was spectacular. It’s how the details become so important in something like a moustache – how thick; what angle; how long; pointed or rounded ends; does it curl up or curl down. And it’s all about the designers taste and when it’s a good designer (and Charlotte is amazing – one of my favourites), they also take info from the actor in terms of how you see the character looking.
Then we also had to look at a mask for a section I won’t talk about but it is, perhaps, one of the funniest parts of the show and there are some FUNNY parts in the show. It always makes the audience go wild when they realize what is happening and it’s the moment that consistently gets talked about as a favourite moment by the people who see the show. I can’t really describe it without giving something away but it so politically incorrect in the most hilariously cringing way. It’s one of the things I love about this show. It lovingly shows us how far we have come as a society by hilariously showing us how far behind we were in 1928. LOVE IT.
We’ve started doing “run-throughs”. For the uninitiated, a run-through is simply going through the show from beginning to end to actually put it together and link everything so we can all start pacing ourselves and get used to the show in terms of sense, and stamina. It’s also the time when the director and choreographer can see what the show is and how things work. They can start fine-tuning, changing, fixing, filling in any holes in the storytelling. It’s always fun when we get to see each other’s work as there is often a lot of work done on scenes we’re not in when we’re not there. People . . . there is some crazy funny shit going on.
One of the great things for me is that the cast and character choices are so different, I don’t even feel like I’m doing the same show so it’s great to go in and play each day and they’re really inspiring me to make different choices and refine some other choices. There are seriously some incredible things happening. And I can honestly say that everyone is bringing their A game – from top to bottom. Two standouts are Diana Coatsworth’s “Kitty” – she’s created this character who is so goofy and mercurial, every line out of her mouth is an adventure in comedy. And Kyle Golemba – who is our sole male ensemble member. He is a thinking actor who is constantly finding fun, interesting, detailed choices. He’s a young performer who has the respect for the craft and the talent to go really far. What I really like is he doesn’t complain about how he is “just in the ensemble” and then not do the work. He reminds me of myself when I was a young actor. (Not that I’m old, I’m just previously enjoyed.) An older actor once told me, “At any given moment onstage, at least 5 to 20 people are watching you, no matter how small your part. And for that moment, YOU are their show and if you don’t have a story to tell or if you’re fooling around or you decide that what you’re doing isn’t important, YOU LET THE STORY DOWN AND KILL THAT MOMENT FOR THEM.”
I never forgot that. Even when I was in an ensemble of 20 guys, I would treat the show like it was about my character. ie Wizard of Oz – “The Wizard of Oz is about this guy named Zeph who has a job with the Oz glee club, cleaning up guests who come to visit the Wizard. If I do a great job, I get medicine for my mother. If I don’t, I won’t get paid and I can’t even bring her food, let alone medicine. One day, a group of four and a dog come to see the Wizard. The folks in charge tell me to clean up this guy made of metal or something and to sing him a song because he’s heartbroken so if we cheer him up and make him sparkle, I’ll get food, medicine and a longer skirt (the doorkeeper keeps checking me out.)” You get the idea. I see the same care in Kyle and it heartens me. Not all of the performers of his generation have the same integrity. I look forward to seeing where he goes in his career.
We’ve had people coming in to check out the show – lighting designer, sound designer, costume designer, set designer – just to see what they need to be thinking about and looking out for in the show. They all seem to be enjoying themselves. Rob Patterson who is the artistic director of the Tom Hendry Theatre and Zaz Bajon, General Manager, came and saw our last run-through before our Christmas break. I don’t think I’m telling tales out of school (how old am I to use that line?) to say that Zaz had a big smile on his face when he left the rehearsal hall at the end. And Rob laughed so hard through the run-through, I thought we may have to pay for his dry-cleaning.
We now come into a long week. Those of you dear people who think that what we do is all glamour and parties. Bite me! We are about to enter a 7 day week. Included in which are three 12 hour days. Not so glamourous. But thankfully, it’s such a great group, we basically laugh for 8 (or 12) hours a day. It’s what we call “tech week”. A couple of days refining in the rehearsal hall and then we go to stage, which will involve re-spacing on the set, walking through lighting states to make sure we are in the right places, then adding the orchestra, which is always a thrill, then costumes, make-up, wigs. To quote the Chaperone, “Yes, life is a mad whirlwind.”