Okay so there is so much to talk about. There are two things to discuss today. And all I can say is WOW!! So the first event actually happened on Tuesday night, our last day of our work week. We’re already tired and so happy to come the last day of the week. We had an understudy rehearsal at 1:00 but that’s okay, those are fun. But just as we were starting the rehearsal, our stage manager, David, was on the phone. It turned out he was on the phone with Nick Adams who plays Adam/Felicia in Priscilla. Nick had food poisoning and may not be able to go on that night. Now let me start by pointing out that Bryan, who is the understudy for Nick who has had the majority of rehearsal, was in Toronto that day doing a publicity event for Priscilla. Steve Schepis who has only had a minimal amount of rehearsal was stepping in that afternoon so we could go through the second act. Needless to say the day quickly turned into “let’s get Steve ready to go on in case Nick can’t do it.” So we went through the show for him and then off he went to be fitted for costumes. Oh, did I mention that Steve hadn’t really been fitted for costumes yet since he wasn’t expected to go on before Bryan. Ah, well there it is. So they had to see what would fit him and what wouldn’t.
At about 4:30, we found out Nick was NOT going to make it as he was exploding from . . . . well, everywhere. By this time, we found out that Kyle Brown was also out with “food poisoning” and so was Ashley Spencer (one of our divas). At this point, it became obvious that this was not food poisoning but a bug or virus. How is everyone else? Well, Tad was at rehearsal and already not feeling well in his tummy. Mike McGowan had called out and was told (begged) he had to come in as we were down too many people. So here is the toll so far, Ashley, Kyle and Nick are out with stomach issues, Bryan is in Toronto and Steve is on for Nick. So that is essentially 4 people out, one person on for someone else. So that is 4 of our 5 swings on. OH WAIT!! Just before half hour, Stacy (second of three divas) is puking in her dressing room – she’s out. That’s all 5 swings on. Jeff Metzler covers Steve as Farrah (the drag queen at the top of the show) and Young Bernadette (in Les Girls) so someone is going to do some split tracks. OH WAIT. Tad is so nauseous, he can not quite stand up. He will try to do his featured bits – priest in Funeral, Errol in Broken Hill and lead singer in Country Boy but he’s not sure he can do the rest. So now the male swings are going to have to do split tracks – more than one person in the same number.
I have never in my professional life seen the paragon of organization that is our dance captain, Eric Sciotto. He was amazing. He kept having to adjust and re-think as people dropped around him. Add to all of this the fact that the new male and female swings had not yet been taught some of the tracks they were asked to do that day. So our amazing assistant dance captain, Josh Buscher, was teaching them tracks right up until showtime as wardrobe was grabbing them to fit them into costumes.
Then poor Mike was having moments of nausea that took him out of a couple of numbers which would just add to the chaos as Eric and Josh had to jump into different roles. But here I have to say, Eric won the award. In Go West and the Finale, he had to play 3 different people in both numbers. He worked it out and literally would pick what was essential to keep the show and set moving. In the Finale, he started as Tad for the entrance, switched to Kyle to unhook the centre diva, switched back to Tad to help me move the giant glittering shoe and had to become someone else after that or before, I forget but literally we all just did our tracks and he seamlessly ducked and weaved his way around the stage cleaning up the messes so no one in the audience would notice. It was outrageous and so impressive. A big shout out to him and a BRAVO!!!
But we lived and Steve did an amazing job for having so little rehearsal. Of course, Tony and Will were so generous with him and loving and helped and guided him. It was actually fun to have it be so alive because you never knew who you were going to turn around and see. And there are/were so many reasons for switching, it’s mind-boggling – height, size, etc. One of our “Swedish” gentlemen was black that night – complete with blond wig. It was awesome. It would literally change from number to number. It must be said that our swings are incredible. Eric, Josh, Amaker who we flying by the seat of his pants, Esther who learned a couple of numbers right before going on as well and the dynamo that is Ellyn – jumping into everyone’s track at the last minute through our whole run and being a rock and a joy and a hoot. Bravo to all of them.
That was Tuesday, now to last night. Where do I begin??? Okay, at the top of Act 2, we do Country Boy which is an audience participation number where we each bring someone up and then we dance with them. So a couple of nights ago, I saw a lovely looking woman who looked like she’d be fun. She was this lovely black woman with a close-cropped hairdo who looked a little like Judith Jamieson. (sp?) – gorgeous. She looked about 50ish. So I got her up and got to the stairs and realized (damn that great black skin) that clearly, she was well into her sixties/seventies. Shit! She was a little slow and uneasy on her feet but all was well. So I thought, okay, I can’t do that again. I need to make sure they’re a little younger and able-bodied, just because the dancing is a little quick. So last night I saw this younger lady in a black sweater (remember that part for later), who seemed to be enjoying herself. Awesome, she’s mine. She seemed game so I brought her up. It wasn’t until we got up the stairs to the deck that I realized (sigh) that she only had (big breath) . . . . one arm . . . . . . . what???!!! You couldn’t tell in the house because of her BLACK LONGSLEEVE SWEATER. And not the right arm, which would mean I could still lead her in the dancing, but the left one which meant I had no way to lead her. Dear God. I was so shocked I couldn’t even cover it up. “oh, Oh,. . hey, soo okay umm. . .what’s your name?” “Now give me that ar. . . uh, and a little step, step.” But I thought I would lose it when I told her to do the chicken and started flapping my arms. There is a slight pause and she starts to, rather self-consciously and half-heartedly, flap her one “wing”. ” Oh dear God, don’t laugh at how ludicrous this is.”
So now it’s time for the Polka. Well, it’s clear, this is not going to work as the arm I need to lead her with . . . well, . . . doesn’t exist. So I hold her and just do a little hop step with her. She is looking self-conscious, I don’t know what to say. Everything in the number is about using that arm and we have to get out of the way. Aaahhh. So we live through that but now it’s time for everyone to join hands and then in a few moments do-see-do in a circle. I link her left hand with the person on her left and on the other side, Jessica is trying to link her guy’s hand to my lady. Have to say several times to Jess through gritted teeth – “one arm, one arm, one arm.” Finally Jess gets it and without flinching, let’s it go and so the circle starts. I found out the cast was wondering why the circle is broken as we do-see-do around them. I see each person realize what is happening and try not to react. Luckily the cast then do-see-do’s off-stage. 3 of the most uncomfortable minutes of my life. Only because I put her in such an odd position. . . . well, she agreed to come up and you take your chances. But I couldn’t recover because everything I say and do is about needing her right arm. HORRIFYING. She seemed alright ultimately and I hope she was. She looked so self-conscious and I couldn’t make it better in the moment. But i have to say, I will never forget that one tentative flapping wing.
Never a dull moment, y’all.