Monday, July 10, 2006
Anything Goes, by Cole Porter performed by the Art Center Theater of the Citrus County Art league: we opened Friday night, with additional performances on Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon.
Opening night there were fewer flubs than the preview performance of Thursday evening, but also a significantly quieter audience. The players were tired after weeks of rehearsal, especially with the extra intensity of the previous week, known in the trade as “hell week”, and that, coupled with the mild response of the small audience, led to a more flub-free but less energetic performance than the night before.
Saturday night, an audience of the same size was responsive from the start, and a more rested cast stepped up to a new level of performance. There was only one significant flub, and great improvements with several of the leads. It was clearly the best performance to date and we were all quite happy with it. Back stage, we have small black and white monitors and a questionable sound monitor, and hearing the response of the audience lifted us all. In the men's dressing room, some of us sat and watched and listened as the “dangerous” scenes came up, holding our breath with each pause, praying that it wasn't another mind blank before the next line came.
This is an interesting phenomenon- the mind wipe: players that I know know their lines, suddenly getting that deer-in-the-headlight look as their mind simply goes blank and they appear to not even know where they are, let alone their line. Sometimes the recovery is quick, sometimes it lingers and sometimes the scene is saved by another actor ad-libbing some reminder. But at one point in one of these performances of opening weekend, two of the three actors in a particular scene went blank at the same point! The anxiety of the first moment turned to amazement and then humor as they went round and round like two drowning men treading water trying desperately to grab at a raft that neither could find. Even an ad-libbed feed from the third player was not enough to save it this time and the struggle continued for what was probably only seconds, though it seemed like hours. Finally a word, a gesture- something- caught, and moments before the music director was about to start playing cover music, the lines came and the scene moved on. From there, it moved through without a hitch until Moonie inadvertently pulled the trigger on his Tommy gun and apparently shot Billy! This was laughed off enthusiastically by the audience and Billy miraculously survived to continue with the play. If we had had this on video, I think it would have had a shot on America's Funniest Home Video's!
By Sunday's matinee performance, the crowd had tripled. They reacted well and most of the lines, the songs, and the timing were spot on. The players ended confident for next weekend's performances and looking forward to their first week off since beginning rehearsals several weeks ago. I heard some speak longingly of a proper dinner and a couch in front of the TV.