Monday, July 28, 2014

End of the run

Emotionally, I'm still on a high. Physically, my body is killing me.

Saturday night was the final performance of Annie and the last nine weeks have been absolutely fantastic. The cast and crew of the show worked so well together. While I've never questioned my decision to move back to Albert Lea, being a part of this production just kept reinforcing it.

I was so flattered by the number of family and friends who came to see me. And the rumor that my apartment currently resembles a florist shop is mostly true. One of the kids asked me why I got so many bouquets of flowers. I wanted to say, "When it's your first time back on stage after a 24-year absence, you'll get flowers, too." But I realized an 11-year-old wouldn't understand that. So, I just kept it simple, "I have great people in my life."

Naturally when you do Annie, half of the cast is made up of kids. Being a non-procreator, it was an adjustment for me. I love kids, but I also find that herds of young'uns tend to be unruly. And, at times, I felt like I was channeling my character more than I normally would when trying to keep order. (As if that was possible) But it was also a chance for me to get to know a great group of kids who have a passion for music and theater. I'm looking forward to watching them grow up. It took me a four weeks to figure out their real names, but I will remember them for a very long time.

During the three dress rehearsals leading up to final dress, I think I called "line," at least one time each. (Calling 'line' at rehearsal means that someone will prompt you with your line) It stressed me out thinking that I might be on stage during a performance and forget a line.

But I didn't. And let me be clear, I didn't forget a line. I did, however, forget a prop. During performance #2, in the very first scene, my character is supposed to pull a flask out and take a swig, at which point, Molly (one of the orphans) looks inquisitively at me. As I reached into my pocket, I realized that I had left the flask off stage. I kept calm while looking into this child's face, who was waiting for me to do my thing. A thousand thoughts crossed my mind and I just decided I would skip it and move on to the next line. The other girls had looks on their faces like, "what the heck??"

Fast forward one week to the same scene. I never forgot the flask again - I gave the girls permission to check me every night - but I got distracted on stage. The front row of seats is very, very close to the stage. And most nights, I would know someone in the front row, but it's never bothered me. Until that night. As I stood on the edge of the stage taking the (pretend) swig from the flask, I was suddenly looking eye-to-eye was my friend Jill and her family. It completely threw me and I started to move to the next line before finishing the first one. I back-tracked and finished it, but not exactly the way that it was supposed to be.

I love theater and musicals in particular, but doing community theater gives its participants an amazing opportunity to create lifelong friendships and to contribute to the community's quality of life.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Becoming Miss Hannigan

Opening night for "Annie" is just two days away. (insert expletive) The reality is starting to hit home.

I've started my traditional internal stress mechanism of having no appetite and being nearly nauseous before the show, and then ready to frighten Old Country Buffet patrons by the end of the show. Although I'm older now and I better rationalize why I shouldn't be stressed, it's still there. I'm grateful for the fabulous supply of Ativan left over from the 2008 U.S. Figure Skating Championships.

I'm comfortable with the songs and dances now - and a shout-out to the physical therapists at Mayo Clinic Health System's HealthReach for excellent work on getting my knee to behave. I'm loving my costumes which is good since I made two of them myself and all three pairs of shoes that I wear in the show are my own.

The hair was a concern because, with my short style, there isn't always a lot you can do with it. I wasn't keen on wearing a wig as I'm already "glowing" on stage with the costume and the hot lights. The solution we came up was using my own hair with lots of back-combing and layers of hairspray. If I had any gray (showing), I would look a little like Cruella DeVille.

The biggest concern is just remembering the damn lines. At last night's rehearsal, I dropped one line that could be considered important to another line later in the show. "You! Your days are numbered." It's a line that I have to say to a six-old girl who knows every line of the show. You don't drop a line with a kid and not expect to hear about it later.

Then there's the screaming. I don't just raise my voice to the kids and do a little shouting. I have two scenes in the show that I have to scream. And as coincidences go, they are the same scenes in which I have to sing. Heck, one scream is in the middle of a song! The music director talked to me last night about what I should be doing to make sure I still have a voice by the second week of the show - no caffeine drinks, lots of room-temperature water and appropriately warming up the voice. I was also told that I need to talk more in my head voice than I do. (I've been guilty of that for years!)

Okay. Bring it on.