Performance Company Spring 2008 Show Summary

closeThis post was published 10 years 9 months 30 days ago. A number of changes have been made to the site since then, so please contact me if anything is broken or seems wrong.

Actors in period costume sharing a joke whilst waiting between takes during location filming.Image via WikipediaAll right, the “hell week” is over. Three audiences have seen the show, and today marks the start of Memorial Day weekend. There will be no show tonight; we moved our schedule up a day to account for Memorial Day weekend. But it was still three shows.

And a memorable three shows they have been. From George’s early pants removal at the beginning of the first night’s show to skipping half a scene the second night (something from the last night would have been better, but I couldn’t think of one), we’ve had our share of mix-ups and mistakes. Fortunately, many of them actually made the show funnier.

Lots can happen in two hours, and this show was very near that total. The beat sheets backstage had a list of eleven scenes and songs, some long enough to be shows in and of themselves. But we combined them all together. We even faked an intermission during entry #8, “Intermission Song”. But there wasn’t really an intermission; it was all a practical joke.

The full program went like this:

  1. The Actor’s Nightmare (scene) *
  2. BusyBusyBusy (song) *
  3. DMV Tyrant (scene)
  4. Belly Button (song) *
  5. Canker Sores and Other Distractions (scene) *
  6. On the train (dance) *
  7. Funeral Parlor (scene) *
  8. Intermission Song (song, duh) *
  9. Under Duress (scene)
  10. Nobody Understands Me (song)
  11. Medea (scene, not the full play) *

See, the entire show was composed of scenes (“short plays”) by Christopher Durang (a Tony and Obie award winning playwright) and songs by the Philadelphia Chickens (On the train was choreographed by our, er, choreographer). Every item is funny, each in its own way. There was a good mix of all kinds of humor, from political commentary to slapstick and just plain weird stuff.

By the way, items with an * are the ones I took part in. Just thought that would be useful. As you can see, most of the list is items with *s. I was very busy.

The Acts

I’ll summarize each thing here, just to give those who didn’t see the show — probably a lot of you — an idea of what went down. (I’m thinking about asking my dad to edit and digitize the videos so I can upload them. More on that at a later date.)

The Actor’s Nightmare

George Spelvin, an accountant, wanders into a theater just before a performance, and is told he has to go on for one of the lead actors (who has been in a car accident and broken both legs, taking the traditional good-luck wish a bit too far). But the situations he faces quickly get out of hand. Is it a dream or is it reality? Who knows?

BusyBusyBusy

This song is just pure funny. There’s even a cellphone involved. I should know, I was part of that bit.

DMV Tyrant

James Agnes, a permit-holding student who has just taken and passed the driver’s test, wants to get his (yes, his) license, but the counter clerk is none too cooperative when it turns out that neither James nor his test score is in the computer.

Belly Button

I performed a part of this song, and I still don’t know what the point is. I think it’s just supposed to be weird.

Canker Sores and Other Distractions

Martin and Prunella, a divorced couple in their middle age, meet by chance after ten years and are swept off their feet into love, but their choice of restaurant leaves much to be desired. The other painful afflictions don’t help matters.

On the train

This is just set-up for the funeral parlor scene.

Funeral Parlor

A very strange woman whose father won’t even return her phone calls any more shows up at the funeral. Very. Strange. Woman.

Intermission Song

Comic relief, and a practical joke on the audience.

Under Duress

Someone is unhappy with the way the President is running things, and decides to make her views on global warming heard.

Nobody Understands Me

Pure jazz.

Medea

Not your ordinary Greek tragedy. It’s also supposed to be The Trojan Women.

The Glitches

As with any show, things don’t always go according to plan. Each night had its own share of little hiccups. I’ve listed all the ones I noticed here.

The Actor’s Nightmare

First night: George (Stanley?) drops his pants way too early, prompting a hilarious bit of cover-up (which was really fun to come up with: “Look, nobody’s allowed backstage before a performance — especially people without pants on — so you’ll have to leave…” Great fun!); part of one of George’s lines is dropped in the Hamlet section; the executioner messes up kicking the cutting block over and has to try again; the entire Man for All Seasons section is totally whacked.

Second night: Tiny flub during the Hamlet section (not sure who messed up, though); Man for All Seasons part whacked again, even after multiple run-throughs before the show.

Third night: Very small line flubs and a slight mix-up in the final scene.

BusyBusyBusy

First night: Umm… It went quite well, given that it was nearly cut the day before.

Second night: The cellphone bit ended up being a bit crackly due to the transmitting end having to be relocated on account of noisy ballet dancers from the show next door (this one was most likely my fault, folks).

Third night: Great!

DMV Tyrant

I couldn’t find anything wrong with this one, except that the clerk was a bit hard to hear the first two nights.

Belly Button

Failure FAIL (can there be such a thing?). Meaning nothing.

Canker Sores and Other Distractions

First night: Midge took a little long coming back a couple times, forcing a bit of ad lib.

Second night: It went pretty well; nothing comes to mind.

Third night: I definitely paraphrased a line somewhere in there… But it was a good rendition nonetheless. Which was great because I had people actually there that night.

On the train

First night: Quite well, just not always together.

Second night: Better. The downstage boundary of the train apparently moved somewhere between stage right and stage left. One or two people were too far downstage.

Third night: Very good, but there was one outlying cast member stage left. Too far downstage, again. Oh well.

Funeral Parlor

First night: Almost all the extras (everyone but me) left, and way too early at that. Only some of them are supposed to go, and not till much further into the scene.

Second night: A large section of dialogue was dropped, including the cue line for extras to start leaving to go change for their next role (the cows in the Intermission Song) and the first bit of keening by Marion. Oh, and the set was missing (a few chairs).

Third night: The best run!

Intermission Song

First night: I didn’t notice anything.

Second night: Nobody fell for it! Rats.

Third night: Almost got ’em, but my triangle finger was too itchy. People were this close to getting up when I rang it.

Under Duress

Worked for me…

Nobody Understands Me

First night: Flawless. (No, that’s not a problem; it’s another way of saying I couldn’t find anything wrong with it.) We were just missing the bass part, because it turned out the notes in it were wrong.

Second night: Very good, and we even got our bass part back (because the director figured out the right notes before the show).

Third night: I think the best one of the three nights.

Medea

First night: I flubbed a couple of the chorus lines, because I lost my script a month ago in Chicago.

Second night: It went much better. But nobody brought the boxes for the chorus (needed because the other three members are so much shorter than I am ;-).

Third night: Boxes were planned better and we all knew what we were saying. Completely.

Conclusion

So obviously we had our share of flubs. But the great thing is, the audience hardly noticed a thing! And that’s the magic of theater.

One interesting little tidbit came this morning, at the end of a rehearsal for another show with the same theater school. The principal of the location I attend (the only one with a Further Stages™ program) was trying to inspire the cast of that show, Working, after an abbreviated run-through. After giving her notes, she made a short speech about the Performance Company’s show.

She called it the most phenomenal show she’d ever seen at the school.

That blew me away. I guess it was better than I thought.

Since we have a tape of the second and third nights, and the third night was (I think) the best, I’m considering doing a showing for the people who didn’t get to come (most of the Working cast). Also, an upload to the Internet (for family and friends who are out-of-state and/or couldn’t make it) is on my mind. I’ll see about getting the tape captured and encoded sometime next month. I’m really low on hard disk space, so it’s going to have to go on someone else’s computer.

Now I get to study for the next show. Which is next week. At the same time, in the same place. So I’ve now been to the same theater room on seven of the last eight days. And we’re using the same sound system for Working. But that’s all part of being in multiple groups within the same theater school.

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dgw

I am an avid technology and software user, in addition to being reasonably well-versed in CSS, JavaScript, HTML, PHP, Python, and (though it still scares me) Perl. Aside from my technological tendencies, I am also a theatre technician, sound designer, violinist, singer, and actor.

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