Sunday, July 06, 2008

Tech Week: Parts I and II

TECH WEEK PART I-- In the beginning...

there was the Sound Check.

And not just any Sound Check. A loud Sound Check.

Tech Week began at 9 am on JUly 5--Saturday morning. We had gotten the Fourth off (thank God), and today was the first time we would run the show with lights, lighting effects, a stage crew, a stage manager, and sound. The leads were set up with their body mikes. The stage manager set up his corner backstage L. Techies were reading the list of lighting and sound cues as the propmaster checked the prop table.

To make sure all this technological gadetry worked, the kids in the sound booth ran the check. Usually this is some sort of song with a wide range so that you can check all the different speakers and stuff like that.

The song that we had? "(I just) died in your arms tonight." Played very, very loudly. It reverberated all throughout the theater; we had to shout at one another to bed heard. Just to make sure all the speakers in the HDHS PAC worked, they did it again. As I was limbering up I was thinking, I will never get this out of my head. I will be singing Facade and, instead, "I just died in your arms tonight" will well up out of me.

The tech crew was running about, getting things ready, as the rest of the cast trickled in. As usual, caffeine was highly in evidence, as well as a lot of food, since we were scheduled to go until 1, but most people thought (pessimistically) that we'd go a lot longer. It looked like we were settling in for a theatrical seige.

The stage curtain dropped, with the "Jekyll and Hyde" logo superimposed on it through spotlights. Robin then began to introduce the crew, including Jason, the stage manager (who warned us NOT to touch the mousetrap on the lab table after Act I had finished...I didn't need that advice). Jan, our costumer designer, then called the street people (of which I am one) to come and select costume material.

THis wasn't so much about what you liked--it was about what fit. 2/3 of the skirts had things like "waiste 23" marked on the tag. Um, my waist hasn't been a 23 in many, many moons. Fortunately I found a long skirt (long as in to the tops of my shoes) and a matching, high-neck, button blouse a la Anne of Green Gables, to go on top. (Technically, in Victorian vocab this is called a 'shirtwaist' and not a blouse. But I digress.) The skirt is long enough that I can wear my Bring on the Men fishnets under it and no one will be the wiser.

So, while Jan pinned my skirt and the other costume assistant marked my blouse, I failed to realize that we were on for Facade. By the time I scrambled into the wings the number was half-over, with blue and red lights illuminating the set and giving us all a pretty awesome glow. It looked spooky, which is what we're going for.

After that, we watched Board of Governors before heading backstage for the Facade reprise. The scrim fell, like it was supposed to, but only about half the cast actually got on the stage to sing the number. Sigh.

The engagement party followed while we Red Rat girls prepped for our big number. A sign labeled "The Red Rat", complete with a drawing of said rat, came down. Getting the tables onstage proved to be a bit challenging, so we had to practice that a few times. We ran the actual number once, and it went quite well, especially with the dramatic lighting. Of course, again, getting the tables off, the scrim down, and the men on for the end of Girls of the Night proved somewhat problematic, but that's why you have the Tech rehearsals--to work out the kinks.

The lab table rolled on for Jekyll's big numbers, the effect of which was somewhat diminished by the sound tech who was crouched behind him, trying to fix his body mike. Jay and I were on with Diana (Lucy) and two other women for Alive! so we hurried up for that. With the end of that number, I was done for Act I.

"Murder, Murder!" of course, was run a few times. The lights and the sound effects for this number require a bit of coordination. "Confrontation" was, I think I can say, a mess, because we couldn't see anything, but the end of the show wrapped quite nicely, with Robin demonstrating the very, very loud (and authentically-sounding) prop gun that Utterson (Kevin) will use to kill Hyde (David). After that, we were free to go until...

TECH PART II: The Music Tech


"Music Tech" is different than general tech in that we're doing stuff w/ the music that we would do with the lights, etc. Essentially it's about rhythm and entrances/exits, and volume. So today we met the orchestra. There are (this is all rough estimates) five violinists, two cellists, a few brass (horn, trumpet, trombone), a clarinet/bass clarinet/alto sax player, and a flutist. We also have our rehearsal accompanist playing the piano/synthesizer (because we aren't hauling a harp down there for Once Upon A Dream, y'all!).

Music tech isn't run sequentially, either--it's like an inverted triangle. You start with the full company numbers and work down to the last person (in this case, Jekyll) with the most solos. So we began with "Facade", which, after an initial sound hiccup, went very well. Ken's hands are flying in the pit. Of course, there were the normal calls for 1) volume and 2) exaggerated diction. Yes, to us, it sounds very stupid, but to you, the audience, it sounds like normal English.

After Facade we went right into the first reprise (which, unlike Saturday, had everyone on the red platform! yay!). Following that was the ever-popular Murder, Murder! which we did, no surprise, a few times, with several stops and starts so that the orchestra could coordinate with Hyde's murders, etc. There was one part, in particular, where the orchestra must have vamped for an extra five measures or so after Hyde had exited. But, again, that's why we rehearse like this. At least the words are 98% memorized!

Finally, we did "Confronation/Facade 2". Confrontation is a big of a bugaboo--people are still trying to smuggle scripts up into the scaffolding, with the thinking that, since we're behind the scrim, no one can see us. Robin's not so keen on this, so no more scripts. The other problem is general cueing. The director's head is mainly with 1) The Orchestra and 2) David, as J&H. We're there, but we're not really first in the pecking order. So we have to count (something vocalists do not often do) and come in as best we can. There were also some sound adjustments, because we couldn't hear much of anything, pit wise, or David at all.

The reprise went well, and we were taking at Ken's super-fast tempo, so I'm surprised we did that well. Sally hadn't been playing it quite that fast, and Ken really books it (I guess we're in a hurry to get to this wedding, eh?).

That was the end of the company numbers and the guys filed out, leaving the girls for Bring on the Men, which was not nearly as much fun without the guys at the tables. I felt odd, not having anything in front of me, and was tempted in break into dance--but I didn't. I restrained myself. :)

I left around 4:15, and finally ate a real meal with parents, afterwards hitting Kohl's with mom for the final components of my costume--fishnets and a sports bra to wear under my tank top for the Red Rat sequence. The costume, along with some of my other stage stuff, is now sitting in my LL Bean bag, awaiting the First Dress on Wednesday.

I feel good. I know my music, I know my blocking. The cast is wonderful--we all get along very well and are having a lot of fun with this show. When talking to Sally yesterday we both agreed that this is one show we will hate to see end, simply because it is so much fun, and it's something different. Sometimes Community Theater can be stale and safe--it's all Oklahoma! and Hello, Dolly!. This is unique. Like I told Tiffany yesterday, this may be the bleakest musical I know. Even Les Miz doesn't end this bleakly, for pete's sake! (If you would like to offer another contender, please do so in the combox--I would love to hear suggestions!)

Side note: While in Kohl's I saw my junior year (h.s.) English teacher, who works as a cashier there. She asked me what I was up to, and I told her about the show. She said she was "not suprised" to hear that I was doing theater. Ha ha. :)

So, TECH WEEK schedule:

Tomorrow: Show 7-10
Tuesday: Show 7-10
Wednesday: FIRST DRESS, with call at 6.
Thursday: LAST DRESS, LAST REHEARSAL! 6-10 (or God knows when....)

When I say "show" I mean with everything BUT costumes--scene changes, sound effects, orchestra, lighting, the whole nine yards.


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