Read Part 6 and 7.
Eight days after we started this whole thing, and here it is – opening night! Being an APPLAUSE! show, people are still rehearsing right up to curtain time. From 7 to 7:30, when the house would open, people were still on stage running songs with Steven or working through their staging.
Tonight I brought a few extra items of my own, including a couple of things for Mikal, our Superman. Seeing what a challenge it was for him, during his final fighting-and-singing number, “Pow! Bam! Zap!”, to battle the Flying Lings and also try and keep an eye on his lyrics, I worked up a “giant-size” version of that song for him to use in his binder. The lyrics fill two whole pages with inch-high letters. I also brought my trusty grey fedora – much more “Clark Kent-y” than the cloth one he’d been using.
For James and Christina I brought a fun little prop – the “Mao-Tse Tung Peace Prize” which is bestowed on the mad Dr. Sedgwick by “Father Ling”, undercover Communist infiltrator for the Chinese government. I took an image of Mao off the ‘net, got the Chinese text for “Peace Prize” through Google Translate, and assembled it all on a nice Communist-red background, finally printing the design out on my inkjet. Then I glued it front and back onto one of the dollar-store “peace-symbol” earrings that someone brought for us the other night. The coup de grace was a strip of gold foil from some chocolate, glued around the side to give it that authentic gold-medal glimmer. Finally, I took a freebie pen on a red cord, detached the cord and strung it through the hole in the earring. Voila! The Mao-Tse Tung Peace Prize!
Not only was it satisfying to produce a fun prop for the show, but it also justified my pack-rat tendencies. Everything finds its purpose… eventually!
Our “Opening Night” show was a hit. It helped that the audience was chock-full of local musical theatre veterans, many of whom had been invited for the post-show gala reception. From the opening seconds it was clear that they were attentive and primed to laugh. And as the show progressed, we heard a steady stream of rewarding laughter.
It’s always fascinating to me to discover lines in the script which don’t sound like much on the page, but become big laughs in front of an audience. I guess it proves that if a punchline falls in the forest, it doesn’t make a sound, but in front of an attentive crowd, previously “hidden” laughs are revealed.
Sometimes it’s to do with a visual that makes a line funny. Example: Superman introduces himself to Dr Sedgwick’s assistant Jim: “Hi, I’m Superman.” To which Jim replies: “No kidding!” With the Man of Steel standing there in full regalia, his introduction seems quite redundant, and Jim’s seeming sarcasm netted a huge laugh.
Elsewhere, a favourite moment of mine has become the acting-out of the “film” about Superman. As the narrator says that one man on the doomed planet Kryptonite put his baby into a rocket ship, I cradle an imaginary baby and set him in an office chair. I make sure to wait for the line, “And sent him off into space…” – just then, I hurl the chair offstage. It gets a huge laugh.
The show went very well, and then we all headed for the post-show reception, where I saw lots of familiar faces, including some from The Broadway Chorus – which I’ve had to miss a rehearsal for due to this show… but I’ll be back next week and hopefully not too far behind the rest of them!