Three weekends of funny later, the Morris Park Players’ production of Cinderella is over. Set strike for the show was Monday. Next on their agenda is packing up all their equipment; the school they’ve performed at for 25 years—Folwell Middle School—is closing at the end of the year, and so it’s time to move everything to their new home, Edison High School.
Aside from having “Ten Minutes Ago” and “In My Own Little Corner” stuck in my head still, I have lots of good memories and a few annoyances. Why did the director (not the music director) want “The Search” to go on for so long that we had to play it about six times in each show—so much that we started calling it “El Searcho Unendo” and I wrote Da Capo ad nauseam in my score? Why is Cinderella (the character) such a wimp that she hides from the prince when he’s looking for her to try the glass slipper on her foot?
Better than these annoyances are the jokes we constantly made at every show. “The Search” turned into the fun piece; several of us got into altering each repetition of the number so it wasn’t so boring, and a couple musicians brought sound effects (like a “quacker” and a slide whistle) for the last two shows. We poked fun at practically all of the characters, especially Cinderella’s stepmother and stepsisters. It was awesome. 😀
I even spent one show sightreading the first violin part. Both our viola players showed up that night, too, so one of them sightread my usual second-violin part. That was an awesome night. (The next day, one of my contacts from a few past shows this year covered my part when I couldn’t make it.) Of course, we were viola-less for the next two shows; we could never get that balance right…
There are many more tidbits that I don’t remember as of this writing. I’ll quite likely remember them in a month or a decade, though, and I’ll laugh.
Next: On Stage?!
My agenda has an important entry reminding me to replace all the Cinderella music stuck in my ears with Best Beware My Sting tunes, since I’ll be performing that show as Hortensio on Saturday.
Best Beware My Sting is a musical adaptation of William Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew.1 It’s really cheesy, corny, and all the other wonderful adjectives we as a culture2 have come to expect from musical theatre. (It also made me have to skip a Cinderella performance in favor of a dress rehearsal, but fortunately someone could cover my part that afternoon.)
Honestly, I’d rather that another show had been chosen for this spring at StageCoach. This is likely to be my last term in the program—the one that ends in a week—and I had hoped to get a more fun show. But hey, I have to live with what I’ve been given. Hortensio is a lead, after all, and I have a couple good songs to sing.
That dialogue, though… Oy. It’s not quite Shakespearian English, but it ain’t American vernacular either and it’s closer to Shakespearian. Memorization has been more trouble than usual for Best Beware; usually I know 95–98% of my lines by the week before performance (a number that leaves room for improvement), but I was hovering around 70% at the last rehearsal. It’s no excuse that others were in worse shape; I’ve failed in my number one goal for this semester: Memorize early. So this week I’m reviewing dialogue every night, and I’m also hitting the CD to refresh my memory of the vocal harmonies.
As a cast, our lack of memorization likely stems from a lack of rehearsal time; we’ve gone through every scene exactly twice in four months. We’ll have time for exactly one more run-through before the show on Saturday, and we haven’t really added in much in the way of props or costumes. In the words of our principal, StageCoach is a learning lab first; education, not polished performance, is the goal. So we’ll do our best and it will be fine; the shows always come together at the last minute.
I believe much of my own personal trouble with memorization comes—lack of rehearsal aside—from having a busy life outside of that production; I’ve had pretty much constant gigs since February, as can be seen from my posting activity these last few months.
The Grand Imperial Cirque de Paris
Most recently, music from Cinderella shared my head with tunes from Carnival!, Concordia University’s musical for this year. Last Thursday I substituted for another violinist who couldn’t make it. I can’t get Paul Berthalet’s “I’ve Got to Find a Reason” out of my head. (“Look, my friend, do what’s best for you—do what’s best for you! Look, my friend, I’m out of step with the rest of you. Is this the answer to your prayer? Not mine! Your prayer, not mine! Your prayer, not mine!”)
Originally I planned to do all of Carnival!, but the violin section filled up3 and two of the four shows conflicted with my previous Cinderella commitments. I thought the music was rather more complicated than Cinderalla. My stand partner, twice my age and experienced on several different instruments, also had some difficulty, and the wind player who got me involved in both The Sorcerer and Carnival! called the score “unplayable”. By that, I know that the music really was hard. (Hint: I spent a lot of time trying to fake fifth position—and higher—with varying success.)
Carnival! gave me the rare opportunity to see a show in which I’m involved as an audience member. The last time that happened was during The Sorcerer when I squeezed in one night to actually see the production. So far this year, I’ve only seen two shows from the house; for all the others I’ve been in either the pit or the booth.
I went to the Sunday matinée, the last show of the run. It was very worth it, even though I got a ball of confetti dumped in my lap (a prop malfunction; the confetti didn’t spread out the way it should have)—I would not want to be on house clean-up for a show that throws confetti into the audience. 😛 Congratulations to the cast and crew, and the orchestra of course. You guys put on a great show!
It’s a Small World, After All
After spending more time at Concordia in a week than I usually do in a month, I finished playing the Thursday show and grabbed a program. I looked for names of people I know (and noted the misspelling of my own name—sigh). Wait a minute, who ran the light board? Hey, I know him! We were in the Minnesota Boychoir together, back when it rehearsed in New Brighton. (The choir moved to Concordia shortly after he left.)
What’s interesting is, when I hurried over after Cinderella to catch him exiting the booth on Friday night, I found out that he’s a student at Concordia now, majoring in theatre and communications. We were both homeschooled Trekkers all those years ago; I guess our interests still overlap.
Thanks to Facebook, I plan to continue reconnecting. People I knew through the Boychoir just keep showing up, don’t they?
Later: Bye Bye Birdie…Probably
I was one of three musicians to respond when a call went out for a pit orchestra to do a school production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor® Dreamcoat. I’ve known the show since I was very young, and it would be really fun to play it.
However, a few days ago, the director sent out a message that he might rethink the pit. We three were the only commitments he was able to get. In light of his trouble finding musicians, he’s considering scaling back. As soon as I got that message, I forwarded it to one of my new contacts; she knows a lot of people who might have been able to play Joseph, and I hoped that we three early responders wouldn’t get cut out of the picture as was implied by the last email.
Unfortunately, the bomb shell dropped today. Strings have been cut out, to be replaced by synthesizers. Bah.
Fortunately, I have a lead on another show, Bye Bye Birdie, that runs the same weekend. My contact there still has to convince the director that more violins would be useful, but I’m reasonably confident that that show will happen.
PS: An apology is in order for my last post. I failed to check its appearance before scheduling its publication, and as a result most of the text was actually part of a very long footnote. I’ve corrected the problem on the site, but for those of you reading via email I’m afraid I can’t fix it. I hope you’ll forgive me!
- Have I said this before? Whatever. If I have, I’ll restate it for the people who never read the post in which I last mentioned it. [↩]
- “We” being Americans, of course. [↩]
- It had “six” violins, two to a part. As it turned out, there were only five, but there wasn’t room for another in the pit anyway. [↩]