Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Honors Convocation Performance!

Today from 10AM-11AM, the School of Music held its annual Honors Convocation to recognize outstanding music students and their achievments in music and academics. Brett was recognized for his composition achievements, including his work on The Count in writing the lyrics and libretto as well as composing and orchestrating it.

At the end of the convocation, Brett accompanied Michael Mott and Aaron Morris in their duet from the show, Pieces on a Chessboard. The choreography was only slightly changed to fit the fact that the two actors could not use the props they usually have during the show. It looked and sounded great!

Lessons in stage combat!

The actors, above their normal lessons for any show, have had lessons in French diction as well as stage combat. There are a few scenes between a few different characters in the show who take part in friendly sword fighting. For the past few weeks of rehearsals, Casey Matteson an IC Drama major who is trained in stage combat, has given lessons to the actors that need it before rehearsals. Since late March, Casey has been giving consultation on fencing props and has done choreographing for the fencing scenes in the show. Both scenes look great!

Monday, April 23, 2007

The Dress Rehearsal!

Tonight was the formal dress rehearsal. It started a little after 8PM and will go to the end at around 11PM. The dress rehearsal includes the actors in full dress as well as makeup this time. Everything is run as it would for opening night. However, there is still allowance for stopping in the middle of a scene if absolutely necessary to fix props, lighting, sound, etc. Tonight, the show needed to be stopped for fixing props on the revolve as well as fixing the lights.
For dress there is usually a small audience as there was tonight. The audience included ACE (Access to College Education), which prepares high school students for college.
Even since last night there are still changes being made such as a word added or taken away which Susannah, the director, is capable of doing since the playwright, Brett, is always at hand to ok it. There are also changes still being made to the props in order to make the show run smoother.
Everything is continuing to get really exciting!

Tech/1st Dress!

Yesterday the actors and production crew were all at the Hoerner from 12PM-5PM with a two hour break and then from 7PM-12AM. It was the last tech rehearsal as well as the first full dress run-through. The full orchestra was present providing the accompaniment. The orchestra includes keyboard, timpani, drum set, french horn, trumpet, clarinet, flute/piccolo, oboe, trumpet, bass trombone and strings. Adam and his assistants for lighting, as well as Britney were in their usual tech positions in the audience. Both have tables set up in front of them. Adam has computers to control and keep track of the lights and Britney has two tv screens, one showing Joel in the pit and the other showing the stage. The dress run-through is set up to go right through as if it would on opening night, however there is no audience yet so the show stops if some technical aspect needs to be fixed or smoothed out. Britney informs everyone of this through her mic.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

A little taste of the SET!

The set only has one large piece to it that takes up the whole stage from bottom to top. It looks like the front of a building with an aged-plaster treatment. The color is black and blue. It includes 5 balconies about 12 ft. off the ground spaced evenly across the stage. The balconies have tall windows with shutters. There are also 3 windows with shutters on the bottom with 2 wide doorways in between. The 2 doorways are where the revolve rotates in order to bring props and actors on and off the stage. The props, lighting, sound, and a projection directly below the top, center balcony stating when the action changes to a different location all act as a means to change the setting. This is rather than having extra set changes.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Night 2 of tech rehearsals!

The first tech rehearsal was yesterday night. Tonight is the second night where everything is starting to be put together and really smoothed out! The first few hours of rehearsal started with mic EQ-ing which included one actor at a time going onstage and singing or stating lines as loud as they do during the show. This lasts for about 5 minutes or so at a time in order for Tina and Don, the sound technicians, to balance the sound of each person's unique voice on stage so that the audience will be able to hear them clearly. However, I'm sure there is a lot more to mic EQ-ing then this.

At 7:30PM, the tech run of the show continued. All of the actors were in costume as they had been during mic EQ-ing. Tech is always a very intense time for any production because it is when everything is being put together and smoothed out. It includes the actors going through scene by scene in order for all of the production staff to get all the lighting, sound and stage managment cues set up. The actors are getting many things asked of them at the same time. At one point, while the actors are standing in place on stage waiting to start the scene, they could be getting instruction from Mary and then shortly after from Susannah about choreography or lines while Greg, the Costume Designer, will go onstage and fix something on their costumes. At this same time, the actors also have to be listening for Britney, the Stage Manager, to give them the cue for when and where to start the scene.

During tech, Britney sits in the audience with head phones and mic so that she can be heard around the whole theatre, including backstage. She listens to everyone working on the technical aspects of the show in order to inform the actors on stage and backstage when everything is ready to start the scene and from what point in the scene they should start. It is a lot of starting, stopping and then re-doing whole scenes. This is so that all the technical aspects can be smoothed out to fit with what the actors are doing. Each light, sound, and stage management cue is tested and taken note of for each scene and transition between scenes.

At this point in the process, the assistant stage managers are working with the backstage crew to figure out where and when to move props for each scene. While the actors wait for their cue to start, they sometimes practice the scene on their own together and from right where they are standing on stage. They will run lines or speak or sing quietly through the song in the scene that they're going over. During all of this, Don, the head sound technician, walks around the theatre and even onstage to listen to the sound coming through the mics to check how it balances in the space, etc. At this time, there is still just piano accompaniment being used but from the pit down below in the front of the stage.

While tech is going on in the Hoerner, Gail, the Assistant Director, is working with the actors who are not onstage to go over and smooth out/fine tune any scenes that need it. This takes place on the red carpet outside of the Hoerner.

Tech will continue until Monday, which will be the dress rehearsal!

Monday, April 16, 2007

Load-in! Monday, April 16th, 2007

Today is load-in on the Hoerner stage! For those who do not know, this is when the carpentry crew and others put all of the various pieces of the stage in place as it will look for the actual performance. They also were loading in the orchestra, including setting up stands, stand lights and other equipment for the musicians, in the pit.

By around early April, the carpentry crew was beginning to build various pieces of the set in a big room in the back of Dillingham where all of the carpentry equipment and materials are housed. What usually happens is that any IC student can sign up to get credit for some form of theatre production. All students who sign up are split into the various production postions such as sound, carpentry, paint, lighting, costumes, props, etc. Therefore the students who are in the carpentry crew work with Colin, the Technical Director, and a theatre production major who is concentrating in carpentry. The students get instructions on what to specifically do to actually build the set each day they have theatre production.

Since the sets are so big and there needs to be room for the actors to rehearse up until the show on the stage, it is decided ahead of time how the set will be split up in order to build it in smaller pieces first. Then during load-in, the same students work with Colin and the theatre production student to put it all together on the stage. As pieces of the set are built, the paint crew starts to paint them. So, for the most part, every piece of the set is finished before being put into place on stage during load-in.

I was on the paint crew for The Waiting Room and the carpentry crew for Yentl my freshman year (2003-2004). It was a lot of work, but exciting and so much fun!


Here's a little tid bit about dramaturgy...specifically the details of the job of a dramaturg for The Count of Monte Cristo!:

Jim Utz and I, Gina Randall, went to the very first meetings with Susannah, Gail, Joel, Mary, and Brett to read through the whole show for everyone to give input/suggestions. For the first rehearsal, Jim and I were asked to put together a presentation outlining in detail the background and history of the show as well as the author, Alexandre Dumas, of the novel upon which it is based. Jim and I had a few discussions with Susannah about what would be helpful for the actors to learn in order to understand the society which their characters lived. We decided that Jim would research the geography and history that goes along with it and I would research the history of Alexandre Dumas. Our next task was to write program notes to hopefully enhance the audience's enjoyment of the show. We decided to write separately and on what each of us had researched for the dramaturgical presentation. After spending about two weeks on writing and editing, Susannah looked them over and sent in the final draft with her director's notes. Now I am focusing on attending rehearsals and writing this blog while Jim is attending rehearsals and answering any history questions.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Happy April Fools!!

This afternoon from 1:30PM to about ten of 5PM, the cast did a full "stumble through" of the show. This means of course that the show was run straight through as if it would on opening night even with some parts which have not been choreographed or really rehearsed yet. A few things Susannah mentioned which have not been worked on yet at this point is pacing and volume. It was so exciting to see it all start to come together!

The full run through did end up being 2 hours and 40 minutes, so Brett is working on cutting it down by about a half hour. Along with myself, most of the main designers on the show (lighting, costumes, sound, set, etc.) and their assistants were all there watching from the audience seating. The actors, when not needed, watched from the audience seating as well. This time Mary and Susannah were in the audience to allow for the cast to have the full space and I'm sure so they can watch from a patron's view in order to take notes on what to fix. Britney, the Stage Manager, and her assistants, Hannah and Laurel, were still on stage, but just off to the side in order to keep time, prompt lines if the actors needed it, and move props on and off the stage. They have a very hectic but fun job, I'm sure!

The "stumble through" was done without any costumes, except for mic packs (which goes around each actor's waist) and any shoes or boots that the actors wanted to get comfortable using. At this point, we are still just using the rehearsal pianist, Amy, for accompaniment.

The run was only stopped if something needed to be fixed in the music, such as transitions not going smoothly between songs, dialogue and the scene music.