Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Cool words I've learned lately

Took an advanced English grammar course a month or so ago and learned two really cool new words:

- bustrophedon (also bustropheidon, boustrophedon, boustropheidon) can be used to describe writing that alternates directions: right to left on one line, left to right on the next. The word means something like "turning like oxen when plowing". Etymology: bu for cow, cattle, etc. (think "bovine") + strophe for line. I like the image of the writer's hand moving back and forth across the page like a plow team going back and forth across a field.

- paucal refers to a noun form that means "a few" (c.f. paucity). The progression would be singular, dual, paucal, plural. It seems that languages that have a paucal tend to use it for 3 or 4 things, going to the plural form at 5 (a made-up example: 1 blip, 2 blipa, 3 or 4 blipo, 5 or more blipi).

I learned another new word from one of the friends who came out to the cabin with us this past weekend. In the course of a discussion of how Splenda can claim to be made from sugar, W (a biochemist) gave us a quick, basic chemistry explanation, starting with the fact that all molecules have a chirality (kie-RAL-ity) or directional spiral. Reversing a molecule's chirality also means, inter alia, that people with penicillin allergies are able to benefit from penicillin-like antibiotics. I'd had a doctor explain why a new drug she was prescribing wasn't going to make me sick, but she didn't mention chirality. I wish she had; I'd've remembered what she said even better if she'd given me a spiffy new word to anchor the explanation to.

Doing my part for science...

I found this on The Flibbertigibbet's blog (http://letahall.blogspot.com/):

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Monday, June 27, 2005

Nice to have my weekends back

TW and I went out to our weekend place, aka "the cabin"; hot and a bit humid, but opening all the windows and cranking up the ceiling fans kept it mostly comfortable. Better, friends of ours were able to join us for most of the weekend. The distaff side got massages & manicures Saturday, while the men puttered and got hot and dirty in the process. Then all 4 of us did a little shopping, first so our friends could get a cedar chest, then to do a little antiquing. Grilled chicken and ribs for dinner, with a nice bottle of wine - what a lovely day we had!

TW and I will be back out to the cabin for several more weekends through the end of the year; I gotta make up for all the weekends I missed out on while Mikado was in rehearsal and production. ;)

Well, that was fun!

The last performance went pretty well. My voice teacher made it (and we did about a 45-minute post mortem at my lesson the next day). TW came too, and gave me a dozen roses when I came out for my curtain call! Strike went quickly - it's kinda depressing when you blow through a theater area and within an hour or two there's no trace of all your hard work. The director and her husband had the post-strike party at their place, which runs down to a large creek. Lots of mature trees, a few lightning bugs flickering in the bushes, a lovely big deck to lounge on, and lots of good food and good company. The gift presentations were pretty discombobulated (the cards arrived after we'd distributed the gifts), but I think the cast photos were well received just the same.

Now comes the post-show let-down. I don't miss the late rehearsal nights, but I do miss the people. I was invited to join a few others in singing some Mikado excerpts at a nursing home this past weekend, but TW and I had been planning for a month or more to spend it at our weekend place, and friends of ours were joining us there, so I had to beg off. Next time, maybe.

My voice teacher asked me what I'd learned from the experience. In addition to what I've already noted (seeing less of the show, different group dynamics), I commented that I had to learn to adjust my eating habits to optimize my voice. There are certain things I can't eat before I sing, and I found that eating around 5 gave me plenty of time for the digestive juices to settle before I had to sing. Of course, that invariably meant that I was ready for dinner again by the time the performance was over, 6 hours later.

As a chorister, I only worried about being able to sing (hot tea when fighting a cold, allergy meds in season); when you're one voice among many, vocal purity or lack thereof isn't noticeable, so things like "phlegm fatale" aren't a big deal. When you're out there singing all alone, however, every little thing makes a difference. So I found myself worrying more than usual about the pollen count and paying more attention to food sensitivities and respiratory quirks. And boy, did having solo lines to sing make me pay attention to my technique! I've been working on it all along, of course - that's how I got to the point where someone would actually want to give me a lead - but this really focused my attention on it. In that respect, being a lead was more work than chorus, but it was also fun. When can I do this again? :)

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Afraid to ask

Out of all the folks who've stayed to say hi after seeing the show, not one has offered any specific comments on my performance, either good or bad. I never ask such things; if they're being polite ("if you can't say something nice..."), I don't want to make things awkward for them. And I just can't bring myself to fish for compliments; that seems like cheating, somehow. I guess I won't know how I did until I get the DVD, and I probably won't like it (does one ever enjoy seeing oneself on screen?). My only hope is that my voice teacher will make it, in which case I expect to get a post mortem at my lesson on Monday. But if she doesn't come to the show, I guess I'll never know. No one comments on the chorus members, as a general rule, so I should be used to that, but I did rather hope to hear something about my first lead. So I'll pout for a minute or two, then get back to real life and enjoy having my evenings and weekends back.

Random notes

I knew it couldn't last - if there was anyone in last night's audience whom I knew, they didn't stay to say hi after the show. There goes my streak. :)

Thursday night's brush-up rehearsal introduced a new bit of business to the Pitti-Kat confrontation in the Act I finale. Kat got so in my face that she started to gesture toward me with her cigarette holder; I snatched it out of her hand! A pity we weren't filming; I'd have loved to see the reactions I could hear from the others on stage, and of course I could see the outrage on Katisha's face. My first instinct was to snap the cigarette holder in two, but you never mess with someone else's prop, and you CERTAINLY don't destroy it!!! =:o So, while it seemed a rather lame choice, I handed it back to her. Well, last night our director/Katisha told me she wanted to keep that bit of business, so we decided Pitti would put the cigarette holder in her obi after snatching it away. I then give it back to her when we head back to the dressing room.

This is one show I'm going to be sorry to see close. This has been a very congenial, compatible cast and crew and we're having a lot of fun. I know I'm not the only one who feels that way, as I've heard that sentiment echoed by other members of the cast, including the chorus.

That's another thing I've learned from doing this lead: I'd rather suspected it as a chorus member, but the leads do have a different show experience than the chorus. You get a little tighter with people when you have to run lines or sing a small ensemble number with them, for one thing. The leads and chorus will often have different choreography to do, so the chorus tends to bond with each other when they drill their choreography, usually while the leads are running a different scene. The chorus is nearly always blocked upstage of the leads and therefore can see what the leads are doing, while the leads can't see the chorus. (And I can't see anything but the floor when I'm groveling for the Mikado!)

Leads often get more attention from the make-up folks, too. In this case, I do my own but follow our make-up designer's direction and have occasionally checked with her when I wasn't quite sure I was happy with how I'd done my make-up. Other of our leads, however, have much more intricate make-up designs and will let the designer do some or all of their make-up for them. I'm sure she'd be happy to do mine for me, but I like to be ready early and since so many people go on before I do, they get theirs done first. That just means I learn a few make-up techniques by doing my own, which is a nice side benefit.

Tomorrow is our last performance. Strike is gonna be a sad thing, and I wouldn't miss the post-strike cast party for the world! TW plans to come for strike and the party; I hope he hits it off with some of the others so he stays as long as I'll want to. I have every hope of working with my fellow cast members and staff again, but of course you can never reproduce a show experience - you can only hope to get another, different one that's just as good in its own way.

Ready to go digital, but how?

OK, you tech-savvy folks out there, help me out. After talking about it and putting it off at least twice, I'm finally ready to break down and get a digital camera. However, "I know nothing about such things", not even what questions to ask. If you have any experiences to share ("don't make my mistake" stories are welcome) or can point me to URLs for DigiCam101 or anything like that, please do.

I would much rather not have to buy even more equipment just to view or print my photos. I want something that's the equivalent of a point-and-shoot; the less fussing and fiddling I have to do to take and then view/print/e-mail my pics, the better I'll like it. And if the whole set-up costs more like a car payment than a mortgage payment, so much the better.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

And that's 2 weekends...

We've now done 5 of our 8 scheduled performances. Had our smallest house Friday night and our second-largest at today's matinee (opening night was the largest). More appreciative audiences, and my streak continues - our neighbors came to the matinee today, although they didn't stay to say hi. I've had someone I know at every performance of the run to date - I like that! :)

Last night was videotaped, and some of us were definitely up against the "video jinx", when you seem to make mistakes you've never made before, in places you've always been solid as a rock. Ah well, I still think we gave 'em a good show, which is the main thing.

Another first

Got my first theater flowers last night (i.e., the first flowers just for me, not for the women of the cast, or the whole cast). L & I sent a bouquet and card backstage to me when they showed up for last night's show. How fun! Even better, the colors in the bunch they gave me went perfectly with the flowers Theater Widower brought me yesterday afternoon.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

What a good neighbor

A few years ago we splashed out on Gutter Helmets, but for whatever reason - perhaps the pitch of our roof isn't steep enough - the gutters still clog. We had the GH folks out on Wednesday to clear them, but when it rained on Thursday, the water was still flowing over the sides of the gutters. I left another message with their "service department" (all I ever manage to get is the voice mail) telling them the cleaning didn't work. Rather than wait for these folks to get back to us, however, Theater Widower pulled out the ladder today and has been cleaning out the gutters. While he was up the ladder, he decided to trim some tree branches overhanging the roof, too.

He must be on a roll - I just looked out the window and saw him next door, flushing the neighbor's gutters. Next - more branch trimming, on their side of the fence. What a guy! He's really racking up the good neighbor points.

"Heaven help our hope."

Tonight's the night they tape us for posterity! Here's hoping for a reasonably full house of lively audience members. Last night the box office told us we'd sold 70 or 80-some seats, but only 30-some-odd people actually showed up. And it being a Friday night, when folks have worked all day and all week, they were relatively quiet, as I've come to expect from a Friday night audience. They obviously enjoyed the show - some of them gave us a standing ovation at the curtain calls! - just not numerous or noisy.

Perhaps because of that (or more likely, enhanced by that), we were a bit ragged last night. The timing was sometimes a little bit off, a few lines were misplaced or rewritten, a couple of choristers missed an entrance due to a "wardrobe malfunction" (the one's wig fell off and both were trying to get it back on in a more permanent fashion), the pianists made new mistakes - sigh. I'm glad we got that out of our system (I hope we got that out of our system!) last night; tonight's performance should be sharper. I know mine will, if only because I got to sleep in this morning.

And I'm on a roll. Out of 3 performances so far, I've known at least one person in the audience every time (just one last night, but out of a crowd of only 30-some, that's good). That's my best record ever; usually I only know someone for 1 or 2 performances of a run. If L is able to make good on her promise to attend tonight, and my neighbor to attend tomorrow's matinee, I'll know someone in the audience every performance for 2 full weekends, which could really spoil me if no one I know comes the last weekend. :) I can think of lots of reasons I haven't been much of a "box office draw":
- All my would-be supporters are on stage with me;
- All my would-be supporters are in shows that run concurrent with mine;
- It's too far (in this area, that usually means having to go through too many traffic choke points);
- Other scheduling conflicts
- They just aren't interested in theater. Strange as it sounds, I do have a few friends like that. And when it comes to shows w/ music, if it isn't Broadway, then it must be opera, and "I hate opera - all that shrieking, and I can never understand a word, even if it's in English."

I can't help but wonder about why I'm having so much better luck getting folks to come to this show - how much of it is because the timing or location just happens to work out for people, how much because they're being supportive of my first lead, and how much is because they're there to see someone else and I just happen to be in the same show. ;) Whatever the reason, I'm happy to see familiar faces in the audience.

Friday, June 10, 2005

"It seems odd, doesn't it?"

Last night I went to a final dress rehearsal to see friends in "Yeomen of the Guard" [Note: YeomEn, not YeomAn, ad in the local paper notwithstanding] because their run exactly and completely conflicts with the rest of Mikado - I'm on stage when they are. It was strange - no audience, aside from the director, choreographer, a couple of friends/family members taking pictures (with permission, of course), the company's artistic director, and myself, all sprinkled about the theater or, in the case of one of the photographers, wandering from side to side depending on the stage action. I missed not hearing the reactions of others in the theater, which always adds to the energy, not to mention that it felt very weird to be able to tell my clapping from anyone else's.

Adding to the strangeness was that this was a rehearsal, so the orchestra stopped a few times so the MD could correct or clarify something, in one case doing so right in the middle of a climactic moment on stage. The poor principals had rather a time recovering their composure because they had to resume in such an awkward place. There were some lighting cues out of synch, at one point so badly that the director had to have a chat with the person(s) on the lightboard, and a prop that appeared a bit early, which I knew because of the director's comment to the person responsible.

However, all that aside, I found much to like in the performance. "Yeomen" is the sole G&S work that attempts to be serious at least in part (there's a serious storyline alongside the comedy) and it has a deliberately ambiguous ending which is, however, unambiguously serious. I don't know this show very well - I've done it once, and this is only the first time I've been in the audience, although I've seen it discussed at length on Savoynet. This company did a few things a bit differently than I'd expected, without doing any injury to the text of the show. I particularly enjoyed the way the director treated the comedy, including a couple of unexpected twists that made the Phoebe-Wilfrid pairing more palatable.

I did get to go backstage at intermission and say hello, which is always nice, and congratulate folks on the way things were going at that point. The role of Jack Point was double cast and I would have liked to see the other Jack as well, but at least I got to see something.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Dressing room space

One of the things I've learned about community theater is that dressing room facilities seem to run from adequate to non-existent. When I did Comedy of Errors a few months ago, there was no dressing room - those of us with changes did them in the wings. I worked backstage for another show in a space that was a converted armory; the main "dressing room" was downstairs and not readily accessible, so tight changes were made in what was once probably either a small hallway or a long closet. I've worked in only three theaters with what was actually a dressing room, with dressing table counters with mirrors above them, though only once did I have a mirror all to myself. (It was a relatively small cast.)

The space where we're performing Mikado isn't much different. Being a concert hall, there's a room perhaps 15'x20' with large, tall closets (big enough to accommodate a couple of string basses, inter alia - handy for hanging up costumes with trains), with a smaller room with 2 counters with mirrors, and a single toilet just beyond that. Imagine my surprise when I arrived last Tuesday for our first rehearsal in the theater to have the director ask me which of the 4 places in the "dressing room" I wanted! She had designated it for the 4 female leads! We only close the door when we're actually changing, both so others can get to the toilet or a well-lit make-up mirror and for ventilation - the make-up lights heat the place up in a hurry! The rest of the cast has to make do with large mirrors propped up on 3 or 4 tables in the hall behind the concert hall and change either in the hallway or the larger room. A few cast members have also used the toilet to change, which fortunately is big enough for that.

How cool is this - because I'm a lead, I only have to share a dressing space with 3 others instead of the whole female cast, or the whole cast!

It's so nice having a mirror all to myself, not to mention a place to park my stuff, instead of pulling it out, doing make-up, then finding a place to stash it. And with the trains all 4 of us have on our costumes (Katisha's probably trails at least 4 feet behind her!), it's a luxury to be able to dress & put on our wigs and make-up with a minimum of traffic and crowding. But I'm very conscious of what the rest of the cast, chorus as well as male leads, have to put up with, so I have no problem sharing "my" mirror with someone who wants to apply make-up in a proper light.

And the facility has a message board out front - we're on there! I'm gonna hafta get a picture of the sign. My last show was in a (former movie) theater and our show was on the marquee above the door. I'm so sorry I didn't get a picture of the marquee.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

That's one weekend gone already.

Tech week and opening weekend are now behind us. I'm relieved we don't have a matinee. I can use the rest, so Theater Widower and I are going to see a friend of mine in Damn Yankees. Yes, it counts as a rest - I'll be sitting in the audience, not running around under hot lights in a heavy costume or worrying about lines, music, entrances, or costume changes.

Last night I was actually happy with how I did my solo verse in Braid the Raven Hair. This time I was paying less attention to my hand gestures and concentrating on things like breathing, diction, phrasing - all the "nitpicky" little details that make the difference between a sloppy or barely adequate performance and one I wouldn't mind my friends (or voice teacher!) hearing.

Which is a good thing, because I had 5 theater friends out in the audience. There were W and his daughter, both of whom I've shared a stage with; M, who just played the Mikado in February; D, who's directed me in several shows; and J, who was my dance partner in one show and has MDed others I've been in. When I mentioned the presence of those last 2 to our director/Katisha, she commented that "it's not like you're auditioning for them - they always cast you, don't they?" "Yes, but only in the chorus." So at first it did feel like an audition, but then I just concentrated on doing a good Pitti-Sing. Offstage, part of me couldn't help but wonder if this would convince them to consider me more seriously for principal parts in future.

The scene in the Act I finale where Pitti tells off Katisha was even stronger last night, and this time the pianists were ready for the applause, so we only lost perhaps the first word or two. Katisha got even closer to me this time - our noses couldn't have been more than 6" apart. One of the other cast members commented on it to our AD later, telling it so that it sounded as if we looked like we were about to start swinging at each other. Sure hope it comes out well on the tape! That's the one problem with being in these things - you never get to see what the audience sees. But it's a trade-off I'm willing to make, since it means getting to sing and dance and prance about the stage in some costume or other. :)

The sound that says "love"...

Applause! Last night the applause definitely got louder as Pooh-Bah and I came out for our bow! Come Friday I'll have to listen carefully and see if I can tell whether it's for me or for him; we've gotten a LOT of comments that Pooh-Bah and Ko-Ko are the best performers in the show. And if it is really for him, well, I'm quite happy sharing it. :)

Saturday, June 04, 2005

One down, seven to go...

Well, I made it through Opening Night without any disasters. Having an audience always does wonders for my energy level, and it didn't hurt that I quickly spotted Theater Widower out in the audience. (It wasn't until Act II that I noticed a couple of friends from church, sitting right behind someone I've done a couple of shows with.)

The first of my two glitches was my solo entrance in the Act I finale. After we all finished singing "thy knell is rung" to Yum-Yum, the audience started applauding, which probably drowned out my "Away, nor prosecute your quest". I'll have to talk to the AD and our pianists to see if we should come up with a work-around to wait for the applause to fade a little, or if I should just proceed as usual. This is a chronic problem with G&S Act I finales - they pack so much action and so many melodies into them that the audience isn't sure when or whether to applaud.

I think it was my strongest performance of that section - Katisha's attempt to hit Yum came a little bit earlier, giving Pitti more time to get really, really steamed about the whole business. So "he's going to marry Yum-Yum" was no longer a sing-songy, "nyah nyah" line and more "he's going to marry Yum-Yum whether you like it or not." Katisha got literally in my face at that - no more than a foot away. Pitti didn't so much as flinch. If you'd seen Katisha's make-up last night, you'd appreciate that Pitti must have been angry indeed not to twitch when practically nose to nose with such a harridan. :)

I wasn't completely satisfied with my solo in Braid the raven hair (there's one jump that crosses into my passaggio and is an accident waiting to happen). I think I may be worrying so much about the hand gestures and not making them too jerky that I'm letting my singing technique slide, so I'll have to woodshed that one a bit.

I had my little costume & prop problems - such as backing out of one of my sandals at one point in the Act I finale - but nothing serious. Just enough to remind me that I always have to pay attention to what I'm doing. The ladies' choreographies went better last night - I think we're finally getting used to parading around in close quarters with trains trying to get underfoot.

As for the bows: the chorus gets the first bow, as usual, with a separate bow for 3 choristers who do special bits during the overture (V with her fish kite, J who does a two-fan dance, and C who does an impressive knife dance). Then Peep-Bo and Pish-Tush take a bow; Pitti-Sing and Pooh-Bah; then Yum-Yum and Nanki-Poo. The three little maids then bow together, followed by the three men. The Mikado brings out Katisha, and Ko-Ko gets the last bow. It was fun to take a bow all by myself and actually hear the level of cheering increase! Maybe it was just the acoustics, but I prefer to think it was for me! :)

My "fans" waited for me after the show and one of my friends from church told me that now I'll "never" go back to the chorus. This is an old discussion between us; I reminded him that it's different for women (more competition), but he wouldn't listen. S is a sweetie - when I was cast as Pitti-Sing, he was every bit as excited as I was - but sometimes I think his loyalty gives him "selective hearing". When he and I did a show together back in March, his wife and my husband both came to the last performance and were probably comparing notes on theater widowhood while they waited for us to pack up our gear and help strike the set and clear out the dressing room. I'm sure it didn't give TW a warm fuzzy when S told him last night that "now you'll never see her again except on stage." I quickly reassured TW that he's got me all summer long.

When I start up again in the fall will depend on what's auditioning when. TW doesn't want me to go back to the company with which I've done most of my shows and on whose board I sit because he doesn't want to see me go back to the chorus. That group pulls a strong enough audition pool that I think it may be a while yet before I get out of the chorus there, but who knows. In the meantime, I'll keep plugging away. Knowing that at least ONE director thinks I'm good enough for a lead gives me hope that I'll eventually be able to bring others around to that way of thinking.

Impatiens at last

Now that Mikado has opened, I no longer have Saturday rehearsals that run until as late as 4 p.m. Whoopee! I took advantage of this sunny (but oh, so muggy) Saturday to plant the impatiens I bought 2 or 3 weeks ago. Two flats of the colorful little things, which are one of the few flowering plants that will grow in our shady yard. (But I do love the great big trees that are the reason it's so very shady.)

The impatiens went into a "new" bed. Theater Widower had to take out some dead rose-of-sharon and lilac last fall, leaving a rather forlorn-looking patch on the side of the house. It doesn't get a lot of sun because the houses on our block are fairly close together, and of course there's shade from the neighbor's lovely big maple. "Perfect for more impatiens!" cried I after TW ripped out all the deadwood. So a few weeks ago, off I trotted to the garden center on base - they were having a sale; they must have known I was on the hunt for impatiens! - and came home with 2 flats of color. Now we'll see if that patch is too shady even for impatiens...

I also did a little bit of weeding. We get a lot of "volunteer" trees, of course. The maples come up quite readily, but the other varieties are remarkably tenacious, even in rain-soaked dirt. The admirability of this tenacity depends on whether you want a free tree in the middle of your flowerbed or patio; if you don't, prepare to do some digging or get out the pruners (or a saw, depending on how long you waited to go after the volunteers).

Friday, June 03, 2005

Another open of another show

Tonight's the night! I took the day off work so I could sleep in. Other items on today's agenda include securing some costume fastenings, putting my hair into several braids to fit it under the wig, reviewing my music, lines, and blocking, and trying to keep my throat & lungs clear despite the rain. Fortunately, the rain is light enough that, if it stays like this, it shouldn't keep anyone away from the theater.

One of the folks in the box office was teasing our director earlier this week that "we don't have time to go to the bathroom for answering the phone!" And she wasn't just talking about tickets for opening night; apparently ticket sales have been brisk for all 3 weekends of the run! Hurray! There's nothing quite as discouraging as playing to an audience that's outnumbered by the cast. A fairly full house is always satisfying, and if it's SRO, that's as good as an award, at least in community theater.

Apparently this company has a tradition of an Opening Night gala, which includes a black-tie pre-show reception and tickets to the show. Last night they were marking off 52 of the choicest seats for Gala patrons. We've been warned that the reception-goers don't always come to the show (which seems a waste to me - after all, if you've already got the ticket...) and not to be upset or offended if some of the Reserved seats are empty. Hey, as long as the folks who do show up are laughing and applauding at all the right places, I'm happy! :)

I'm a fairly long-term subscriber to Savoynet (about 7 or 8 years by now) and it's been nice to see the responses to my occasional posts about characterizations or interpretation, including reminiscences from others who've played Pitti (for at least one of whom this was also a first lead). What's been more gratifying has been the encouragement and expressions of good wishes as I embark on my first lead. When I first signed on, I never realized that an online listserv can become a kind of virtual community. I've since seen examples of that on numerous occasions, especially when one or another Savoynetter suffered an illness or injury, and have seen some very moving tributes when someone's passing has been shared. I suppose it never occurred to me that I might be a beneficiary of this community, but here it is - this is my opening night, I'm still going thru my e-mail, and I've already had at least half a dozen "break a leg" e-mails.

Earlier this week I had my doubts whether my Theater Widower was going to be able to make it tonight. He'd come down with a particularly nasty cold - sounded horrible (his voice was much lower than normal), could hardly sleep for coughing, sniffling, and the like, and was therefore exhausted all the time. I even told him the other night that if he still felt so miserable, he should stay home and plan to come to a later performance. "No, no, I said I'd come on opening night." Fortunately, he's finally feeling better so he's going to be able to come after all (without worrying about dirty looks from other audience members finding his coughing and nose-blowing distracting). Part of me is glad; I don't know whether I'm going to have anyone else I know in the audience tonight. If I were in my customary role in the chorus, I wouldn't particularly care, but for my first opening night as a lead, it's nice to know I've got at least one fan out there rooting for me.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

I really should be napping...

... but we open TOMORROW and I'm too nervous, excited, wired, or whatever. I know my brain would never "downshift" enough to let me fall asleep, even though I didn't get to bed until 1:00 this morning, and was awake again before 7.

Last night I tried my wig again, this time making use of the elastic band whose mysteries have now been vouchsafed unto me. ("After all, you know how to wear a wig, don't you?" "No, I've only worn them twice before and had a heck of a time keeping them on." My own hair falls past my waist - who needs a wig?) It was really very easy; move the strap over to a tighter hook and maneuver the wig into place. It stayed secure all night, even as I groveled at the Mikado's feet, and that without a single pin to hold it. No need for the staple gun after all.

And I've hit on a more-or-less effective way to corral all my hair to fit under the wig. I separate it into quadrants, make 4 braids, then start zigzagging them across my head and put a wig cap over all.

Our costumer wants all of us to have flowers or something in our wigs, so I just dug out some peachy-colored flowers left over from dressing a hat for a show a couple of years ago. The flowers will go into my wig and should look good with my costume. Did I mention how much I love my costume? This show is beautifully costumed! I just love parading about in my kimono with its spiffy little train, and I have no trouble remembering to do my "sleeve dances" (in some places in the music we're supposed to move our sleeves around to the music) - more opportunities to show off my lovely little seahorses.

Fewer train wrecks last night, though tonight we've got one more thing to try so the women can execute a couple of our choreographies without tromping all over each other's trains. Sure hope this works - this is our last rehearsal before we do this for an audience!!!

And a great prop moment. One of our choristers is 12 years old, so the director at one point had her mime chasing a butterfly around the stage, but that wasn't working too well. Last night one of our cast showed up with a wonderful Asian fish kite (looks kinda like one of those fighting fish) in colors which match our costumes! How perfect is that! Now V runs around the stage with her kite - it looks beautiful and I just love the fact that the kite matches the rest of the stage picture!

I still need to rig some elastic on my new sandals so they don't flop around. They stay on my feet, but because the straps are so very far forward on the foot, the heel flops rather resoundingly when walking up & down the wooden platforms.

Tonight we set the curtain calls. My first curtain call as a lead! Wonder which character(s) I'll be grouped with? Watch this space... :D

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

We're gorgeous!

Last night was our first rehearsal on the set, with costumes and the musicians-behind-a-screen/flat set-up. The usual train wrecks you get the first time you contend with costumes (several of the kimonos have trains, and the Mikado's train has stays or something to keep it spread out), props, actual stairs instead of imaginary ones, and the music suddenly sounding quite a bit muted now that it's no longer directly in front of you.

But oh, those costumes! We rented them from a company who took their Mikado production to the International G&S Festival in Buxton, UK, last year and won the Best Costume award. It's easy to see why - go to http://www.performingartssupply.com/GilAndSul.htm and check out those gladrags. The swirly things on Pitti-Sing's costume are seahorses - I find them utterly enchanting! And my obi has a huge lavender bow that resembles nothing so much as an enormous purple butterfly. The chorus women's kimonos are cream-colored with decorations in shades of yellow, apricot, blues, pinks, and purples. The men's chorus have somewhat darker colors, and create just as pretty a stage picture. All the costumes are fairly elaborate in their level of detail, and solidly constructed to survive the rigors of the stage. This is certainly the most elaborate costume I've ever worn, and one of the most sumptuous. (Now if I could just figure out how to keep that blasted wig in place...) I nearly always get "costume shots", if only backstage, as a record of the various things I've worn on stage - I'm definitely going to want LOTS of pictures of me in costume for this show!

The body mic wasn't nearly as bad as I'd feared. I can wear the battery pack in my obi, which fits snugly enough that I don't need to do anything further to anchor the pack, and the mic pick-up clips to my kimono lapel. Sometimes the sound was a bit weird as they were setting levels, and I have to make slight adjustments to my posture as I grovel at the Mikado's feet so I don't breathe directly into the mic, but on the whole it was no big deal.

Laugh of the Week!

Savoynet, the online Gilbert & Sullivan discussion group, has recently been hotly debating the merits and demerits of "Take a Pair of Sparkling Eyes", from The Gondoliers. Many have been deriding some of the similes and metaphors, including a reference to "having crossed the Rubicon". One wag, commenting on the inappropriateness of this reference, noted that:

"Um, yeah, come to think of it, any reference to Julius C. is somewhat out of place in a romantic ballad. He just wasn't that kind of guy. Suetonius tells us that when Caesar celebrated his Gallic triumph, his soldiers sang
Home we bring the bald whoremonger,
Romans lock your wives away!

"Now, that has the makings of a fine light-opera number..."