“Superman” part 5, and Blake’s cabaret

We rounded out the weekend with the second of our two full-day rehearsals. Answering our director’s call for rolling office chairs, I felt obligated to offer my slightly worn but serviceable model up for service, so I carefully loaded it into the back seat of my Rambler, tanked up with gas, and brought it along to the Shadbolt Center. Thus, I’m now about a foot lower than usual as I write this recap, sitting on a repurposed kitchen chair instead. Please excuse any resulting typos. The Shadbolt Centre in Burnaby is the site of the rest of our rehearsals as well as the show itself. This being my fourth APPLAUSE! show at the Shadbolt, it was like settling back into familiar turf. In previous years, APPLAUSE! bounced around to a variety of venues, including the Roundhouse and the ScotiaBank Dance Centre, but at this point seems to have made a permanent arrangement with the Shadbolt. Less convenient for me as a West End guy, but better for the shows as it provides a stable home as well as ready access to a huge audience of theatre-hungry suburbanites. 1978930199_bfb2df4e27.jpg
Mikal with his daughter Jor-El – I mean, Jordan! 1978933695_6627b1c7b5.jpg
The "sorority girls of Kappa Kappa Kappa" work on their big number. Later comes the wigs and the go-go dancing… The morning was spent in a rehearsal room with Steven Greenfield, our music director, helping us iron out the lumpy bits in our group numbers. He showed his great patience and skill in guiding us to the correct notes and rhythms where needed. We also ran There was some question of whether the three, count ’em, THREE loooooong dance-breaks in “He’s Super Nice” would all be staying in… we’re still not entirely sure. But this being APPLAUSE!, a decision will be made before the day is out. At 11:45, during a brief lull in the singing, Josh Hallem to his great credit pointed out that we’d missed the traditional moment of silence for Remembrance Day, and asked that we belatedly honour it. David agreed immediately and we all fell silent for a thoughtful moment. Set against a day full of frivolity and fun, I found it a very moving moment. Soon afterwards, we headed into the theatre for a run-through of the show in the actual performance space. This is of course critical for everyone to have a real sense of where they will in fact be when they enter, exit, walk in circles, form a giant computer, etc., and what the timing needs to be. We also layer in things like lighting issues. 1979762806_ea6f8ec41d.jpg Suddenly, in the somber darkness of the black stage, a flash of bright red and blue fabric appeared: it was our first look at Mikal in his Superman costume! A very fun sight to behold. The “theatre magic” is definitely starting to happen. I had actually missed a cue (argh!) during yesterday’s run-through due to a misjudgment of how much time I had remaining, during which I had been hurriedly discussing another bit of stage business I was soon to be involved in with another performer. Today I was, as a result, determined to get through this bit without a hitch – so the tense-o-meter was a little on the high end. But everything went off without a hitch. Whew! 1979767376_b823dba345.jpg The runthrough went smoothly overall. Some problems that came up were quickly fixed, or deferred to Tuesday. There were a few times though when blocking issues had to be dealt with in some detail. These included the scenes at the Daily Planet, wherein four pairs of performers are seated, one at each point of the compass, to represent the office. At various points, people come out (including me) to “turn” the office, rotating each couple by one position on the dial, for a “lazy susan” effect. Trouble is, there was still some fuzziness in everyone’s mind as to exactly when these turns took place. If they were missed, the pair who had a scene to play at the front would be marooned at the back of the stage. Luckily all was sorted out, and in a flurry of pencil scribbles in binders, the movements and timing were duly noted by all. View all of today’s photos!

Blake’s Cabaret

By end of day, at 6pm, we’d run the whole show, and after a few quick notes from the director we were released to enjoy the remainder of the holiday weekend. However, it turns out that cast member Blake Turner, who plays Daily Planet reporter and egotistical schemer Max Mencken, had a cabaret performance happening right at the Shadbolt, only 90 minutes after the end of rehearsals. I wanted to show support for my fellow cast member, especially since it looked to maybe have a small number of attendees given the out-of-the-way location. And from what I’d seen of Blake’s performing, I was certain he’d be entertaining to watch. So I drove around in search of a nice place to get some dinner. It was a windy, blustery night, leaves whipping across the roads in the blackness, and I wondered how many would be braving the cold and dark for a small cabaret show. But it only made me more determined to be there. I returned at 7:30 to find Scott Ashton Swan, Artistic Producer for APPLAUSE!, and Blake chatting in the lobby. We headed up the stairs, ducked around a throng of little girls in tutus practicing ballet, and headed into a corner room – the same one I’d been in a year ago rehearsaing “Fiddler on the Roof”. A few boxes, a black curtain backdrop and a piano were the only visuals. Happily, there were nearly 20 people there, including Jacqollyne and Mikal from “Superman”. Scott made some opening remarks, then Blake stepped out, clad in black pants and a bright crimson shirt, and began to sing. 1979050859_9fd80605b4.jpg From that moment, any hesitation I’d had about staying in Burnaby and coming out to see the show evaporated, and I realized how fortunate I was to be here for a gem of a performance. Blake performed an hour’s worth of carefully chosen songs that ran the gamut from the almost sitcom-like hilarious (like a duet, with Nicole Stevens, about a moviegoing couple’s differing reactions to a “chick flick”) to the utterly poignant and affecting. In between songs, he charmed everyone with his disarming, self-deprecating remarks, and his thoughtful observations on the nature of musical theatre.
Video excerpt from Blake’s cabaret He honoured the Remembrance Day holiday by ending the evening with a song called “Tell My Father,” a dying soldier’s parting message from a musical called The Civil War. It was a beautiful and perfect way to end the evening.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *