30 November 2007

About last night ...

We opened last night. As is tradition at Write Act, our first night audience was ... intimate. And rather familiar. Tonight should be a much larger house (it is Friday, after all.)

[I'd like to pass out fliers when the Pantages lets out. Fliers with "FREE PARKING!!!" right above the title of the play. You would not believe what some people pay for parking to see Wicked!]

Juana is episodic to a fault, with some scenes comprising a few brief lines. So there is constant traffic throughout the show. To help this "cinematic" quality along, the show has something like 400 light cues. I wish I were joking. Our lighting designer, Connie Lynn Vilanni is a freaking miracle worker, and I am floored by how good the show looks. We maxed out the board's capacity for light cues, so Connie Lynn made the blackouts and scene change lighting manual (assigned to sliders.)

(To digress for a moment -- Connie Lynn is my kind of theatre person. The kind I try to be: a no-nonsense, fast working, creative problem solver. She's attentive to what the show needs and inventive in making it so. And she's a total professional, no B.S.)

Needless to say, with so many light cues and so much traffic on and off stage, there were a few hiccups. This is to be expected, particularly on a first night.

In all honesty, I experienced the agony of a parent who can't swoop in and save the day for his kid. Maybe the kid is misspelling "chrysanthemum" in a spelling bee, or getting his ass kicked at a karate expo. In this particular case, the kid was trying to juggle puppets, entrances and exits, lines, acting, scene changes, light cues, sound cues, etc. etc. etc. So it was a bit rough.

It was also our first real run-through under performance conditions. This is entirely my fault. I should have scheduled the rehearsal and pre-production process a bit tighter, allowing us another night of dress rehearsal. True confession time: This is by far the largest cast and most complex show I've ever directed. It has been a heck of a learning experience!

I must say that the cast and crew handled themselves with poise and professionalism. They didn't let the timing lag, which is of considerable importance to me. And there were some genuinely sublime moments.

We had press in the audience, and I heard through our company PR guy that they've requested photos. Gulp. Torrid Affaire, my directorial debut in Los Angeles, flew under the critical radar. I'm a bit nervous -- to paraphrase a line from the play -- to have my work splayed upon the butcher's block. But good or bad, I hereby promise to post full details on the review once it's published. In the L.A. Times. This weekend.


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