29 July 2010

Music Man: A Recap

I'm in mourning for the loss of my obsession. I still feel the need to run lifts and scenes, even though the show closed earlier this week. This was such an incredible theater experience - I had to write it all down. I'm sure as I remember more things the list will expand, but this is what I have for now. . .

Things I Will Miss. . .

  1. My wonderful costumes! Clothes these days just aren’t the same. . . plus, I looked awesome. I really felt beautiful.
  2. The thrill of singing some of the most wonderful and iconic songs in musical theater, and knowing when they sounded nice.
  3. Walking around everywhere in my bloomers. On stage, off stage, grocery stores, restaurants. . .
  4. My Paroo family. Mama calling me ‘darlin’ and both Winthrops giving me hugs to wish me luck.
  5. Making the audience laugh when I was being sly or a bit snarky.
  6. Hearing such genuine compliments after the show from generous audiences.
  7. Working so hard to make Marian and Harold a couple you want to root for – and then succeeding.
  8. Shooting marshmallows out of my mouth.
  9. Everything about Marian the Librarian (especially that vest. . . )
  10. Late night (mostly focused) quiet scene rehearsals
  11. My power ranger boots
  12. Lift-a-palooza
  13. Wearing the completed footbridge dress for the first time. It was the first moment when I really thought "Wow. I look like Marian."
  14. Watching characters come to life on stage – like the first time Rob went off on the school board.
  15. The challenge of developing a difficult character so completely from one end of the spectrum to the other.
  16. Waking up in the morning with my cheek stuck to my pillow because of tape residue – because it reminded me that I’d been in a show the night before, and it was satisfying
  17. Rehearsing Shipoopi and bonding with the cast
  18. The cast carwash, in which I managed to thoroughly soak many people, and get soaked by just as many
  19. The fireflies and smoke during the footbridge – I never got to really see it, but it looked like it looked beautiful
  20. Symbols and metaphors happening on accident (the color of the handkerchief, people carrying books around that trusted me from the beginning).
  21. Lindsay’s snort during Pick-a-Little, and the look on her face/Chris’ face during their solo of Shipoopi
  22. Craig's sound jokes and obnoxious kissing noises from the booth.
  23. Being able to yell or say mean things without having to repent afterwards ;). (I'm mostly joking!)

Things I Won’t Miss. . .

  1. Non-scripted drama.
  2. Mic tape giving me hives behind my ear.
  3. Stage make-up making my skin break out.
  4. Fake eyelashes.
  5. The debate over my stage make-up in general and the great eyebrow debacle of 2010
  6. The door to the Paroo house
  7. “Like two junior high kids in the back of a movie theater!”
  8. The "Did you really kiss my daddy in the show or was it pretend?" question. . . Yeesh!
  9. Hairspray. (The product. Not the musical.)

Things I Want to Remember. . .

  1. Seeing my name on the call back list for Marian and shaking for about a half an hour afterwards from excitement
  2. How over the moon excited I was when I got the call from the director telling me that I got the part – and adding again to that excitement when I found out that Greg got the part, because I had so much fun with him at call backs (good thing that continued. . . )
  3. The moment in call backs when I thought “. . . I might actually be able to get this part!”
  4. The first YOPTC night
  5. The huge feeling of accomplishment I had when I finally committed to all parts of Marian’s journey. It was an emotional triumph for me, and a healing experience.
  6. Lawrence Welk-ing the footbridge ("Never a peaceful moment in the -" "Yeaaaah!")
  7. The director pulling Greg and me aside after the final show and telling us that he was afraid that he would only ever compare us to Robert Preston and Shirley Jones, but that now he will compare all other performances of Harold and Marian to us. That was a huge honor.
  8. "I couldn't kiss him! My acting skills are NOT that good." (Re: The "other" Music Man.)
  9. Steve Black telling me with such enthusiasm that we had nailed the transformation of both characters. His high opinion of the show was, at least for me, the moment I really knew I had succeeded!
  10. Scores of people telling us that they had never understood why Marian loved Harold before they saw our version and knowing that the months of hard work had really, honestly paid off the way we hoped it would.
  11. Greg’s wife telling me that her favorite song in the show was “Till There Was You” – pretty much the last thing I ever expected, but it was a huge compliment! She also said she likes my voice better than Shirley Jones – which is also a great thing to hear, even if I think she’s crazy.
  12. The night I was offered my job. I thought I was in some kind of trouble. I was - but a completely different kind of trouble than I thought.
  13. Walking into Maple Mountain’s theater for our first rehearsal there and thinking “ooooh boy. . .”
  14. Showing off Shipoopi for the first time to the ensemble – mainly because I didn’t have many scenes at all with ensemble in them and it was my first chance to really show off what I could do! The reaction was pretty fun.
  15. Slapping Greg at rehearsal (mostly on accident).
  16. The “Sadder But Wiser (Budwiser?) Girl” dance at tech rehearsal.
  17. Lady in the Tramp hair at intermission
  18. The development of the hummingbird fascination.
  19. Being so giddy over finally rehearsing the library that I couldn’t stop from grinning at how much fun it was to perform. That was always my favorite scene in the movie, and performing it every night was one of the greatest thrills ever.
  20. Realizing how completely the Lord loves me to lead me to the show – not just because playing Marian was fun, but because it changed my life in nearly every way: with friendship, with opportunity, and with some major personal growth.
  21. The emotion of closing night – feeling everything so much more keenly than I had in any other rehearsal or show because I knew it would end.
  22. Watching the pick-a-little ladies can-can during the entr’acte music before the curtain opened. So, so entertaining!
  23. Watching Lindsay sing “Columbia, Gem of the Ocean” off stage so that I could laugh all I wanted without being seen.
  24. Larisa’s excellent “Baaalllzac!” during the pick-a-little reprise
  25. The joke we played on Lindsay. We texted her during notes on one of the two days that she wasn't at rehearsal and told her that she might want to get to rehearsal fast because our director had just told someone else to start memorizing her lines. We thought that she would roll her eyes and laugh, but instead she panicked and burst into tears and her whole family started planning a siege on the school. Whoops! It was really funny, though - in spite of how mean it was! Fortunately she's still talking to all of us.
  26. “I thought so.”
  27. The blessing of being surrounded by priesthood holders when I needed them.
  28. The care that so many people took to make sure that I was taken care of – feeding me and bringing me food and helping me in so many ways on and off stage. It was comforting to know that people cared about me enough to notice when I needed help or encouragement.
  29. How hard it all was – I’ve never had to work so hard at making a part good. It took rehearsing nearly every day for three and a half months to feel worthy of playing Marian. I only missed one rehearsal during all of that time, and I came every other day whether I was scheduled to or not because I wanted to get it right. The responsibility and pressure of being a lead in such an iconic show. It was so, so worth the work – but it was hard.
  30. How fun it all was – to take such pleasure in saying lines I’d known for years from watching the film, to talk for hours about character development and how to take Harold and Marian from one place to the next in a way that is uplifting and praiseworthy, to have all the fun perks of being a lead – riding on the float in the parade, kids giving me hugs after the show, custom made costumes and a quiet dressing room, interviews and pictures in the paper – it was definitely a selfish bit of fun to have that kind of attention!

25 July 2010

Seeing the Good

"It is a terrible injustice to be falsely accused." - Anne of Green Gables

I'm going to toot my own horn for a second and seem very contradictory. You'll have to forgive me.

One thing I realized about myself several years ago is that, on the whole, I'm pretty good at assuming the best in other people. Those of you who know me well might look through the files of your brain and find moments where I haven't been that way, but ultimately I think that, as a person, I'm generally good at assuming the best in others and assuming that they see the best in me.

This means that it always comes as a bit of a shock when I'm confronted by accusations of poor behavior on my part, whether those accusations are valid or not.

I had such an experience recently and it's brought to mind lots of random thoughts that I'm going to attempt to string together here. . .

The "grass is always greener" mentality can be quite frustrating when you know the grass isn't greener, it's just a different kind of grass. Being cast as a lead in this play has been, then, both a wonderful experience and an extremely stressful one. I have been around the theater business long enough to know that everyone experiences the stage differently. When you're in the ensemble, particularly if there are long breaks between backstage and stage time, it's a great time for you to play games and socialize. I knew before getting this part that as a lead you'd have lots less of that time because so much of your time would be spent on stage. What I hadn't realized was exactly how emotionally and physically taxing that can be.

It's true that everyone in the cast is at the theater for the same amount of show time, but I've never been so drained in a show before this one. Staying "on" and being completely in character for two and a half hours is hard. It's a completely different challenge than any other play I've had the chance to participate in. It's been a very welcome challenge, but a difficult one.

What I really didn't understand, though, is how hard it is to walk that fine line between putting on a good performance and being a good friend to everyone in the cast, especially with the part that I have. Marian doesn't socialize much. Nearly all of my time on stage is spent in small group scenes. This means that I haven't had the chance to get to know as many people in the show as well as I normally would in any other position. I noticed after we started rehearsing that people treated me differently because of the role that I had, and I tried to counter that by being as kind and complimentary to people as I could. No one should have an ego built on community theater of all things. I'm just another small fish in a very big and very insignificant pond doing my best to perform where I'm placed. But in spite of all that, people will still interpret distance for arrogance and think that things come easily where they don't. It can be frustrating.

Which brings me to the point of the day: It is easy for humans to criticize what we don't understand and allow ourselves to be annoyed by what we haven't experienced. It is easy for us, then, to back bite and sneer at the success of other people. It is easy for us to imagine that there is a cap on success and that the success of another person is, in some way, inhibiting our own success or potential for success. Instead, we should remember that we are always happier when we are excited for others and supportive of others. Jealousy is a waste of time, and holding a grudge even more so. We should observe before judgement, and give others the benefit of the doubt. I'm of the firm belief that rational people generally act out of good intentions.

So there it is. I feel better after a bit of venting. This ride as Marian Paroo has been rough. It's been a huge challenge for me in the actual performance, but - in some ways - a larger challenge in terms of how I relate to my cast. I hope that they know, as a whole, anyway - how much I appreciate and admire them. I hope that I've been easy to work with and generous in complimenting. If I haven't been as good at that as I would have liked to have been, or as people might have needed me to be, then I hope that there will be a spirit of understanding and forgiveness. After all - we're really all in the same boat.