Just got home from the theater after our first weekend of shows. Have a somewhat pea soup head. Not surprising after seven straight days and nights at the theater, plus two full-length rehearsals before that. Today the kids backstage had out their textbooks and their belabored notebook sheets covered with algebra equations, preparing to re-enter their real world on the morrow.
Opening weekend was fun! Friday kicked off with a champagne reception (and some seriously yummy meatballs) and Sunday David made a video of us. In between, it was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Well, it was never the worst of times, but we did have our visits from the Theater Gremlins, as I've been calling them. Just today I went out in the dark to move a table and fell headlong over a low wall concealing some lights. It sounded like a construction site, but I was strangely unwounded, except for my pride. I was also snatched in Act Two and entrusted with a desperate and essential mission: storm the stage in the next blackout, gallop up the rickety stairs to the "bedroom," grope for a pillow on the "bed," continue groping until I located a teddy bear under said pillow, gallop back down the stairs (no banister, poorly marked, did I mention the blackout?) and meet another crew member across the stage for the teddy hand-off. All within 20 seconds.
Yesterday I lost one of my costumes between my scenes--scenes that necessitate a quick change under the best of circumstances. One of the girls found my dress balled up under the makeup table. I have no one to blame but myself. Soon after the lights came up in a blaze of glory to reveal me and all my students--save one. And where was she, Readers? Sorry she was late, quoth she, several minutes into my sweating. She never mentioned it. Too embarrassed to apologize? Who knows? All I know is that my improv skills are sadly lacking. I was saved from needing them, but it burned me to realize I would have been flailing about a minute later. I could see the rest of my students smiling serenely in the dark, knowing their comrade was AWOL but having faith in either a) their own acting under duress or b) my ability to shovel us all out from under the cliff that was avalanching our way. If "b," that was nice of them, but seriously deluded.
Speaking of my students, I've been having a lot of fun bonding with the teens. We've talked Hunger Games, Princess Diaries, siblings, school but mostly we've talked PERFORMING. Whatever our age, we all get that. Wanting to do it, that is. I'm kind of falling in love with all of them.
I've been marveling at the ridiculous amount of times "David" has to change his tie. Often at a full gallop, as various hands grope for his collar while he speeds past. I've been loving the serenity of "Lisa," who spends most of her scenes hopscotching around the stage but always looks cool as a duchess waiting in the wings. I am agog how FEW times people miss or are late for cues, because with 18 people and 57 changes, there should be more moments when the lights come up on an empty chair. But everyone is doing their job, and doing it with a smile.
One gal taped us little notes to the mirror on opening night. Another brought us all cards with candy bars attached. Each show a mystery giver has been leaving a box of chocolates or cookies in the center of the dressing room. Jessica cheerfully constructs '60s-era coifs for several ladies every show with nary a complaint. Everyone picks up hastily discarded costumes and hangs them, and is ready for a zipper or jewelry adjustment, or to reposition a bobby pin.
It's almost bizarre how different this group of people seems than the one I sat silently with for six weeks, barely exchanging hellos. Now we're all giggling and whispering, and when we're not, we're sharing some serious stuff and it's lovely. Aside from some errant light cues (and yours truly falling over the furniture) the show is looking gorgeous, and everyone is bringing it. I yearn to be on stage longer, yet I'm puffed up with pride for the people who are.
With all that wonderfulness, I'm still looking forward to a couple days off, to catch up on sleep, watch TV and snuggle with David in the evenings, and most of all to take a break from the 90-minutes daily regimen of hair and makeup to prepare my hair for the Bump-It beehive and my face for the mint green and white period eye makeup with bubble gum lipstick. Not the most flattering colors on me, but fun for a change.
Give me 24 hours and I'm sure I'll be yearning to get back in there and scratch my initials in purple pen on the daily sign-in before spilling out my jewelry and pins beneath the old-fashioned bulb-ringed mirrors: I'M HERE! READY TO PUT ON A SHOW!