Thursday, March 29, 2007

March 28th Rehearsal!

Rehearsal on the Hoerner stage began with the actors getting fitted for mic belts. These are the body mics which each actor will have underneath their costumes during the show.

Next, the cast went over the Act I Finale again which is coming along really nicely! While the actors were going through the finale, Mary was sitting with Adam Frank, the lighting designer for the show, and describing to him what sort of lighting she wants for each part of the scene in order to enhance it.

As I think I mentioned before, the understudies go on for those who are not able to make rehearsals so that the scenes can continue to move smoothly in rehearsals.

Brett, as always is at every rehearsal to help the accompanist and be there for any consulting that the director or anyone else needs on the script or score.

Orchestra rehearsals are now taking place at other times.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Scene Work!

Tonight the principles were spread throughout Dillingham. The rehearsal went from 7-10PM as usual, but at different times there were different principles on the Hoerner stage working on scene work with Susannah, in Studio 1 working on dancing with Mary, or G-16 (a classroom in Dillingham) working on individual solos with Joel. The rest of the cast was mostly on the Hoerner stage when they were needed for particular scenes. Ensemble work was done for Act I Finale which is going to be very exciting! In this scene the ensemble is split up into groups of one, two, or three, and they freeze in different poses multiple times. They go between action and freezing in poses to go with the music. It looks awesome!

With Susannah on the Hoerner stage, the actors mostly went over blocking and dialogue. Susannah would describe the movements for each actor throughout the scene. They would then run the scene and Susannah would stop them whenever she thought of something else to try or if the actors didn't quite do what she had originally wanted right away. After running the scene, the actors and Susannah would discuss each person's motivations for their actions in the scene. The actors were free to give their input if they felt more comfortable moving or talking in a different way than what Susannah had suggested. Susannah even asks the actors at various times how they feel about a scene and what they would feel more comfortable doing in a specific situation which occurs in a scene. In staging the scenes, it is all about how to portray what the playwright wants in a way that the audience will understand and believe. So it is important for the actors to give their input since they are the direct connection between the playwright and the audience.

It is great that Susannah, as the director, and Joel, as the musical director, have the convenience of having Brett, the playwright, at hand at all times incase either director wants to ask about a change in the script or score. This happened tonight because Susannah felt that a word should be added for further clarity to the scene.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Tonight's Rehearsal On The Hoerner Stage!

Tonight's rehearsal began with announcements from Susannah about some changes in certain scenes. Then the cast dived right in again to running (performing) the Act I finale that had been rehearsed last night. After running the Act I finale once, both Mary and Susannah began describing to the actors the blocking/staging for Act II, starting with the first scene and continuing on from there. The structure of this rehearsing begins with Mary and Susannah describing where each person is and their actions during the scene. Then the scene is run. This begins all over again with the next scene.

Britney, the stage manager, and her assistants bring on or take off the necessary props in between scenes or while scenes are being described to the actors. These props include of course only the ones which are on hand at this time and are mostly ones which the actors need to get comfortable manuevering around or handling, such as furniture and a basket of flowers. The assistant stage managers remove any props while the scene is being run, if necessary, to keep things moving as close to the actual performance as possible.

At this point, the actors are still using their scores/scripts to perform the scenes, but are trying wherever possible not to look at their lines in hopes to keep getting farther with their memorization of the show.

Last Night's Rehearsal On the Hoerner Stage!

Last night the cast dived right into practicing their waltzing for the ball scene which takes place in the beginning of Act II. Under the direction of Mary, the cast began by learning and practicing bowing. This was customary in the 19th century before taking part in dancing. During the bow the partners are supposed to make eye contact with each other, otherwise it is considered an insult. Then the partner's may only make eye contact if they choose to chat while dancing. There are two different bows for women and men. The women do something like a curtsy with their arms creating an open oval in front of them and the men bend over slightly from their wastes while also creating an open oval with their arms in front of them. This is a very rough description of the bows!!

Most of the actors wear sneakers or jazz, soft, or character shoes when they know they are going to be dancing in rehearsal.

Dewie Fleszar played the accompaniment until Amy could arrive. Live piano music from the score for the show is being used for rehearsing the dancing tonight, unlike the first dance rehearsals where period music from a CD was used.

The cast also learned and practiced how to lead and be lead onto the dance floor. The men lead the ladies after exchanging a bow. This included the ladies placing their hand gently over the gentleman's hand. The ladies may also drape their arm around the gentleman's arm. An interesting fact from Mary is that at the time the musical takes place (19th century), it was frowned upon for ladies to walk around the ballroom by themselves.

The cast also practiced in character going from chatting in small groups, to bowing to each other, to being lead onto the dance floor and finally waltzing.

The dance rehearsals are structured as follows: Mary demonstrates, often using one of the actors as her partner. Then everyone else tries it with their own random partner from the cast without music first. After Mary sees that everyone has pretty much got it, they all begin practicing with the music.

At around 7:40PM, the cast went over some of the music with Joel. They stood on stage with their scores and facing the audience while being directed by Joel who was facing them.

A little after 8PM, Mary started describing the blocking, or positioning and movements, for 4 of the male leads-Edmond, Danglars, Villefort and Fernand-for the Act I finale. The actors took notes and then went through the music while holding their scores/scripts and singing.

A while ago, maybe about a month, the stage manager and assistant stage managers took some time to map out where each piece of the set will be on the stage according to the measurements of the set design. This is so that the actors can begin to get a feeling for how to maneuver around the stage when the set will actually be in place, since it is still being built at this time.

After blocking the 4 male leads, Mary started blocking the tableau of the rest of the cast in the Act I finale. Mary gave each actor a basic idea of their specific action and then let each play with different poses and choose one to freeze for the tableau. While this was happening, any actor not rehearsing had the freedom of asking Susannah to go over their specific character with her offstage. This could include going over specific motivations or feelings of the character during specific scenes or events within a scene.

Monday, March 19, 2007

The 2nd Read/Sing Through!

Tonight's rehearsal was the first after Spring Break and with all the seniors back from Field Studies. The full cast did a read/sing through of the full production. I could only stay for the first act, unfortunately, but it went much smoother than the first read/sing through since there has been two weeks of rehearsals! The sound crew recorded the rehearsal this time with special mics and other sound equipment. The first read/sing through recording was done with a simple tape recorder. Dewey Fleszar helped out Brett with the accompaniment on the piano before Amy could arrive to take over as rehearsal accompanist. It went really well!

Tomorrow's rehearsal will be in the Hoerner and the full cast will be going over entrances and exits to start getting a feel for the blocking, or movement around the stage, throughout the show.

March 6th rehearsal - First Ensemble Dance Rehearsal!

Tonight everyone in the cast besides the seniors, who are at Field Studies for the week, learned the period dances which I believe will be done during the ball scene in which Mercedes sees The Count of Monte Cristo for the first time. The dance that was learned tonight is called round dance which Mary, the choreographer, told everyone is extremely hard to learn. By the middle of rehearsal, however, Mary pointed out that everyone was doing really well for how hard the dance is to learn.

The dance is a couples dance and the rehearsal started with Mary demonstrating the first step to the dance, using one of the actors as her partner. Then each ensemble member grabbed another member near them and started practicing. Some would practice by themselves first and then try it with another or vice versa. Mary went around and made sure everyone was getting it. She then moved on to the next step. Mary started playing period music a little while into the rehearsal. The actors switched partners every now and then.

The second dance which was taught tonight was a particular 19th century slow waltz which Mary said went out of fashion because it was so hard to do. The waltz is done in a big circle where the couples move counter clockwise. The couples' orientation to the circle is extremely important in this dance. Also in this waltz, the guys and the girls have the same step, yet they are three beats apart.

An interesting fact about these dances is that in the society of the time, it was not right for women to look into the eyes of their partner for too long as it was seen as scandalous.

Sunday, March 4th rehearsal

Rehearsal today consisted of "one-on-one" rehearsing between Joel, the musical director, Amy Radics, the rehearsal accompanist, and four different actors, Patrick Hunter (Morrel), Kyle Johnson (Albert), Matt Musgrove (Faria) and Dan Greenwood (Villefort). The stage managers were the only other ones there keeping everyone on schedule, besides me taking notes. Each actor worked for about 15 minutes to a 1/2 hour on each individual's solo singing parts throughout the show.

This, I believe, was the first time that I heard Matt Musgrove use his old/wise man voice to portray the character of Faria. It works so well to make one believe he is an old and very educated Italian priest and sage!

The senior Theatre Arts majors are away at what's called Field Studies where they go to NYC to network for a week with alums of IC in the theatre industry. So all rehearsals this coming week will be mostly ensemble work, since most of the principles of the show are seniors.

Production Meeting on March 1st at 12:10PM

Design meetings began on November 30, 2006, giving the design crew 5 weeks to come up with a final set design for The Count of Monte Cristo. However, since this will be the very first production of this new musical, it is expected that changes will have to occur along the way. The design meetings focused on discussing occurring or potential problems with the set and the actors, how scenes will be staged and potential costume and lighting designs. This is all working towards finalized designs by February 20th for the pre-production meeting. Starting February 20th, everyone from the design meetings will be switching over to production meetings, adding construction, prop and front of house crews.

At the production meeting today, Steve TenEyck, the scenic designer, went through scene by scene and talked about how the set will change including what props will be in each scene. He projected a technical, yet detailed and very visual series of pictures of the set design. There was a projection for each scene change.

The setup of IC Theatre's specific production of The Count of Monte Cristo, the very first production of this show, has been compared to the presentational style of the 10th Anniversary in-concert production of Les Miserables in which the set consists of one background with minor scene changes and props to depict the different settings throughout the show. The set design for The Count of Monte Cristo roughly includes a two story set of about four windows along each level. The windows include long French, rectangular shutters with a balcony on the second level. There will be a black scrim projecting "The Count of Monte Cristo, France 1815" which will change to fit each new place and time throughout the show.

Costumes and props were also discussed.

The hard thing about putting on a brand new show is that it is hard to know what's going to happen and if the costumes, props and set are all going to work together. Producing shows which have already been done before allow a template and example for what worked well and what did not. The cast and crew for this show do not have this luxury. However, it allows for an exciting challenge which everyone is highly capable of taking on!

February 28th rehearsal!

Like the start of each rehearsal, Feb. 28th's rehearsal started with a warmup for all the actors with Joel leading. Each warmup includes physical activities to warm up the body as well as vocal exercises (vocalises). Each actor follows along, however some do their own exercises which work better for them.

After the warmup, the cast finished what was left of the sing/read through from the rehearsal the day before. Then Susannah, the director, lead everyone attending the rehearsal in a discussion on the meaning of the main themes and connections of the show. Each person described their personal connection to the show and its main theme. There were various personal connections, but most talked about their connection and feelings about the true meaning of "wait and hope" which is the common phrase throughout.

It was mentioned within this discussion about how The Count of Monte Cristo is different from other stories because it starts with a big tragedy and the characters are struggling to pick up the pieces throughout the rest of the story, rather than having the story gradually develop to the climax and tragedy much later.

It was a very interesting rehearsal!

Thursday, March 8, 2007

The Second Rehearsal (February 27th)!

Tonight the rehearsal started off with help on French diction from Juliette Dubroca, a TAM originally from France. She went down a list given to her by the director and pronounced each of the French names and places which the actors will need to know how to pronounce in the show. It was perfect to have her with us in the theatre program! Thanks Juliette!

Like every rehearsal before acting or singing, the actors were led through a complete warmup by Joel, the musical director.

The actors then dived into the read/sing through. Director, Susannah Berryman and Choreographer, Mary Corsaro, recorded and timed the whole thing for future reference. It was hard, however, to get an accurate recording since the actors' scores are separate from their scripts. They had to go back and forth. It was great to hear those first chords though! Patrick Hunter who plays Morrel gets the excitement of beginning the whole show!

Brett is and still will be a huge part in the production of this show up until opening night since it will be the first time it is being produced and there will need to be changes here and there to the script and score. During rehearsals Brett usually sits at the piano with Amy Radics, the rehearsal accompanist, and gives advice or help to anyone when it is needed.

I had to leave early, but they finished more than half way through the second act.

Friday, March 2, 2007


Mercedes: Marisa Dargahi
Edmond Dantes: Jeremy Jordan
Danglars: Michael Mott
Villefort: Dan Greenwood
Fernand: Aaron Morris

Patrick Hunter (Morrel)
Jared Zirilli
Jay Schmidt (St. Merain and also Luigi Vampa)
Matt Musgrove (Faria)
Larry Komrower
Kyle Johnson (Albert)
Jeremy Reese (Franz)
Eric Morris

Hillary Patingre (Renee)
Catherine Stephani (Mme. de St. Merain)
Shauna Goodgold (Heloise)
Elise Riveron (Valentine)
Lysie Shutrump (Haydee)
Meredith Beck
Melanie Beck
Lauren Shusterman (Assisting Mary with Choreography)

Parker Pogue
Kevin Hegmann

Mariah Ciangiola
Rachel Tolzman