Next week I will start a new theater journey. I will be moving from my comfort zone in the U High auditorium to the big leagues of Theater Baton Rouge. I know this may sound silly but I’m slightly terrified. I have plenty of experience running a rehearsal. I’ve done as much as one can do in the theater without having any formal training so it really won’t be that bad but I’m still scared. Is it the fear of the unknown? Is it the fact that I have to learn to sink or swim? Is it the fact that when I’m on book I’ll have to be reading lots of expletives and somehow I know my Mawmaw will find out? Who knows really.
I am excited about this show though. With the exception of the Little Mermaid I’ve only ever done things backstage. Its been over 2 years since I’ve been able to be a part of a production staff or tech crew. Its hard work. Most people don’t realize how much has to happen behind the curtain for the magic on stage to work. But this is work that I enjoy doing. Just to say you helped with the creative process and worked with people to get an amazing end product is so rewarding.
So next week will officially start my new blog series titled the Idiot Report. I’m excited to share what working on the other side will be like, the different relationships I will form this time around and how things work in a different theater space. Thank goodness I don’t hate em cause its about to be Green Day all day everyday!
Now that I’ve had time to process that this amazing adventure is officially over its time to close out this chapter of blogging. I’ve learned so many things from this experience. Some of the things I will carry with me are:
- Get a good dresser! If you have multiple quick changes in a show a good dresser is the key to your success. Ms Marie was AMAZING! Especially when the two of us teamed up with Sydnee to get things accomplished I was not stressing about if I could get to places on time.
- Wearing jazz shoes for 3 months will kill your feet, your back, and your ankles. They are basically walking barefoot with a small piece of leather between you and the ground and a heel that digs into your foot. So make sure to ice those ankles and wear supportive shoes when you can.
- Being silly can make even the worst day better. A good game of heads up in the green room, a funny costume or wig swap or even just a good snapchat photo session can pick up the mood among the cast.
- There is gonna be a little bit of drama but that’s ok. Sometime a diva moment will happen. Sometimes cast mates will butt heads. Sometimes you wanna throw something when you can’t find your eyelash glue. But it will all be ok. We would not be in theater business if we didn’t like a little drama.
- Be prepared! Think of every single possible thing you would need and add it to your bag. I was thankful for the many articles and pin boards I read before setting up my dressing room. I had scissors, meds, clear nail polish, extra bobby pins, q-tips and so many other things that were helpful to not just me but my friends around me.
Most importantly take the time to get to know people you are working with. These are your people. You all are there for the same reason…you love theater! Why else would you subject yourself to months of rehearsal and no social life. Its for the joy you get to see on a tiny child’s face when they meet a mermaid. Its for the 6 part harmony that can bring an audience to its feet. Its for the high fives after nailing a really hard dance. These people are there for you. They share your struggle and there is so much to learn from them. Nothing is more fun than a room full of girls ranging in ages from middle schoolers to seasoned pros all singing Whitney Houston in harmony. I love those people!
I will be starting a new theater adventure in a few weeks therefore I will be starting a new series of blogs but I do have to say how very special this has been.
We have finally made it to the home stretch of rehearsals. All that is left is dress rehearsals and a preview and then its opening night! Before all this can happen though there is the crazy of tech.
Saturday was a very long day of basically doing nothing…well at least for me. The tech crew however was working like crazy people to get through hugely technical show. There are tons of scene changes from a giant ship in the water to scuttle and his birds on their perch. Then there is the underwater kingdom and the one on land. There are giant chairs and shells and beds moving around in the wings and backstage. Its craziness!
Sunday though definitely took up for the sitting and waiting on Saturday. We saw a lot of our costumes for the first times. We had costume malfunctions and re fittings. We tried out makeup for the first time. We tried on wigs for the first time. We had so many things thrown at us and the dressing room is only so big. I’ve also got some crazy quick changes going on. Did I mention that my dressing room is upstairs? Yea so running off stage in big poofy dresses and heels made for an interesting night. If I don’t lose 20 pounds doing this show I would be surprised.
We were supposed to end the evening at 10pm. Then it was 11pm. Then it was lets just power through until we are done. We stopped a little after midnight. We weren’t able to get through the whole show.And I learned nothing is more defeating than running up stairs to do a quick change and finding out that we are stopping for the night after killing yourself to get said quick change done. All that said though I’m having the time of my life. It was my birthday and everyone sang for me and sweet Lauren brought me a birthday gift and balloons. This experience is more than just putting on a show. This is making bonds with so many amazing people that I’m so incredibly grateful for. Hopefully the rest of the week runs smoothly. And hopefully I can find some time to sleep before opening night.
I haven’t been able to post lately because my life has pretty much been consumed by Mermaid. This is not a bad thing….its just a tiring thing. The show opened last week but before you can open there is tech. Otherwise know as hell with better lighting.
So much crazy happens within a few days time. Sets are painted and moved. Some new prop is added everyday. For our preview night poor Ariel didn’t even have thingamabobs to sing about. Costumes were changed and added to. I personally went through a round of wig combinations before we figured out what worked. Plus adding the insane technical elements to this show proved to be a bit overwhelming. There are rows of bubbles flying in and out, giant boats moving backstage and people flying through the air you have to look out for.
As the week progressed we got to preview night with all of our friends and family. There was so much love in the room. Even if the show wasn’t perfect, for them it was. I got really emotional at the end of the show. It was a dream come true finally. I had made it onto the stage at Theater Baton Rouge after years of trying. Its not Broadway but for me its basically the same. I have tried very hard to find my place in this world. I thought I had found it and then got knocked down by life and had to try again. Finding myself in this place with these people has been an experience that words just can not describe. I have never been surrounded by so much love and support. It really does something to be surrounded by positive energy.
So far we have done 6 shows, some harder to do than others but all amazing. I’ve learned quickly that a good audience can mean the difference between an good night and a bad one. I’ve also learned to get out of the tech crews way or they will run you over. It also really stinks to not be able to talk at all backstage when all of the mics are hot. All in all though I wouldn’t have it any other way. The original run of the show is SOLD OUT. There has also been an extension added that is selling pretty fast too! I’m so happy to live the mermaid life and can’t wait to see what else is in store.
Yesterday I woke up bright and early on a Saturday for Mermaid workday. After getting my new kitten the night before and being woken up early that morning as though he was an infant I was not all that excited about it. But I had a great morning with my awesome cast.
We were given a tutorial about flying set pieces and how many tech crew members there are going to be. After all of that overwhelming information we were given our assignments. I was not up for handling power tools at such an early hour so I joined the paint crew. After painting my entire home I knew I didn’t want to be on the roller crew. So I got assigned to the boat from the Kiss the Girl scene. Which is my favorite part of the whole movie. I got to work with Prince Eric and Arista and a maid. It was the best lol. No really I had such a good time cutting up with everyone and getting paint everywhere.
The best part was when they turned the radio on and it was nothing but Beyoncé and show tunes and we all knew them. We all loved the same things. And in that moment I realized I have finally done it. I have finally figured out my place. These are my people. This is where I am supposed to be. To quote Ariel “this is where I belong”. And I am so thankful for this opportunity.
Even now I am sitting in the Studio at the theater helping with auditions for Evangeline which is also making me super happy. I have always been the crazy person who loves this show that no one knows about. Now this whole space is full of people who live it and breathe and wrote it for goodness sake! I’m so very happy.
I’ve been sort of down since we had to put down my poor puppy a few weeks ago so I haven’t really felt much like blogging. I did remind myself today though that I use this as a positive outlet. So since its been a very long week full or rehearsal and walking pneumonia, I thought this might cheer me up.
We are officially off book! We are doing run throughs of acts and last night we did the whole show. Today we get to have designer run through which I am excited about. I’ve been trying very hard to raise my confidence and skills because let me tell you I’ve got some seriously talented sisters. They make me want to do better and try harder. So tonight when some new faces are in the audience I’m hoping I get a laugh or two which will make me feel a little better.
I’ve learned new things being at a bigger theater. For one I didn’t realize that turn table rehearsal was so important. Seriously. I had never walked on the stage at TBR until this summer and I didn’t even realize there was a turntable there. Its been an interesting experience riding along waiting for cues and lines. Its also been an adjustment moving from the much smaller social room to the stage. Its more room and you have to know what lane you are in and you have to know where the wings cover up things. Try doing that and remembering you lines and notes and dance moves on a Wednesday night when you have barely slept all week, are sick and haven’t eaten all day. But the amazing thing about it all is I don’t care. I’m excited to go to the theater every single day. I may be sleepy or hungry but I will never complain about this experience. This has been my dream for so long. I am savoring it all.
I am especially loving the time I get to spend with my other cast members. I am usually a very introverted person but everyone is so kind and welcoming you can’t be like that. I love laughing with my mersisters. I love talking to the youngins about silly things. I love being clueless about notes with my alto buddies. I love talking drag race with my guys. This has been everything I’ve dreamed of and more and we aren’t even to the good part yet.
So if you are in the Baton Rouge area in June come and see us! You can get your tickets here: http://theatrebr.org/disneys-mermaid.html
And take a look at these amazing cast mates of mine.
Sunday night was a choreography rehearsal. I am not in the big dance crew so I wasn’t called until later. When I walked into the studio the ensemble members were all over the floor looking completely exhausted. I thought to myself if that’s what we are in for I’m about to be in trouble. Since I was early I worked with some of my Mersisters on our dance while the others finished up.
Finally it was our turn to join the group. The Mersisters are jellyfish in this number. We had a good time pretending like our jellyfish were doing a Mardi Gras Second Line since they are on some sort of stick we pretended to hold the whole time. I was happy that I got a little featured jellyfish part with another one of my sisters. I don’t feel confident in my acting but dancing I got so I’m glad I’m able to show that. The music is just as fun as the movie version but better because its longer with a long dance break. I was in awe of my fellow cast mates and how they learned so much in such a short period of time. This for sure is a high energy number. I left feeling like I had taken a Zumba class and my sore muscles this morning are proving that it basically was one.
We are just starting on week 3 of rehearsals and we are already done with the first act! Its insane to me how much faster community theater can move as opposed to my high school experience. There is no way on this earth we would have finished a 5 minute song in a 3 hour rehearsal with very little break time. They would have boycotted the show lol. That being said I’m so glad to be spending my evenings with such talented people. I can’t wait to watch the first act run through so I can see what everyone else has been doing in rehearsal. Hopefully I don’t forget my 3 lines. I feel like its almost harder to remember those than to learn 30 lines.
I can’t wait for everyone to be able to see the hard work we are putting into this production. Until then here is a video of the Broadway version to get you excited! Show starts in 1 month and 8 days!!!
Watch Under the Sea with this link
After another day of Mermaid rehearsal I am finding myself trying very hard to remember how to sing in an ensemble. In elementary and middle school my school did not have a music program. Even in high school all we did was sing as a group in church. We did not have a choir. I did not learn how to read music. I didn’t learn to solfege. But I always had a good ear and I could carry a tune with good pitch.
When I was in college I was looking for an elective class when I came across Women’s Chorus. This was a non-music major choir that you didn’t have to audition for. I thought I can do this. It wasn’t until the first day that I realized I was completely out of my league. Everyone knew so much and I didn’t realize I knew so little. I ended up making it through those two semesters by making friends with other girls in my section. I would listen to them sing the notes once and then I was able to pick it up. Sometimes I could even pluck the notes out myself. I learned so much from that choir. I learned about how to read music, even if I don’t know what it means. I learned about diction and inflection and how to say vowels correctly. I learned to sing in multiple languages with and without accompaniment. That choir gave me confidence. It was the best part of my day during those semesters.
As I got older and started working with the show choir at school my skills were tested again. The kids and leaders attended a camp at Southern Miss every summer. While there we participated in a teachers show. It was at this camp that I think I learned more than ever! We were under the direction of the amazing Brian Johnson. If I were a kid I would move just to have him as my teacher. He is that great at what he does. I learned to take notes in my music. How to change up an arrangement. How someone’s passion and enthusiasm for music can make you want to do better for them. We also worked with John Flanery who is equally amazing. Some of the most beautiful songs ever came under his direction. I will always remember how beautiful singing with the kids was with him.
So as I’m starting to dive into the giant musical numbers of Mermaid I feel a little less scared. I know I can’t do everything but I do know things. More than I give myself credit for. I’ve been skillful enough to position myself around people I know have a clue what they are doing (thank you Gabby). I guess singing with a big group is like riding a bike. I might have been a while since the last time I’ve done this but I can do it. I know I can.
PS. Love my mersisters! We had a really good rehearsal last night and I already feel like we are gonna be the best sisters ever. Yay daughters of Triton #squadgoals
Today was the day. Finally. I was incredibly nervous. This was compounded even more when I pulled up to the theatre and literally all of the other people were basically infants lol. No but seriously everyone seemed to know everyone already. I panicked and started texting my best friend trying to pretend I was very important. They summoned us all to the studio which is the smaller theatre at Theatre Baton Rouge. We all sign in and sit down and I take a seat. Where do all of the other people sit…on the other side. No blending into the back for me. And of course I had to introduce myself first. So if I thought I was going to be able to pull of being an introvert during this experience I was completely wrong.
Luckily shortly after we broke into sections to starting working on the bigger numbers. I was a little concerned by this because I was put in the alto section. I’ve only ever sang as a second soprano. I can sing lower but I have not before. I also may have failed to mention that I can not read music. Yea I know what in the world do I think I’m doing. Because I can’t read anything and a whole lot of this is site reading…also can’t do…so my main concern was that I’m not experienced with those notes and it was going to take some serious work picking things up by ear. To my surprise though everyone was a little nervous with notes. I fell into a groove with everyone and by the first break I felt so much better.
All in all I felt good about it. Everyone seems very nice. I don’t think I will be as worried going into tomorrow. Don’t ask me about Tuesday though. That’s mersisters only rehearsal and all of my insecurities will be out in the open for the others to see. But I’m so glad to be a part of this and there were moments where our voices, not yet polished, sounded so nice. This is going to be a wonderful show!
Oh and by the way I found out my sea creature…I am a JELLYFISH!