“Superman” parts 6 and 7

Somewhat delayed but better late than never, it’s the continuing story of Superman! the musical. View Part 5.

Day 6: Dress rehearsal

The sixth rehearsal was Tuesday night at the Shadbolt Centre, the first rehearsal following Monday’s “day off”, and a full “dress rehearsal” where we mostly wore what we’ll be wearing in the show. (Mikal has been wearing his Superman garb since we arrived at the Shadbolt on Sunday, since hiding and revealing it is an integral part of his staging.) It was a chance to run the entire show from start to finish, and… see what happens. All in all, things went well. The show is “on its feet” and most of what remains to do now is to tackle a hundred small logistical challenges and adapt to the demands of the venue itself. How much time do I have to make that entrance? Where will I get that chair from? Who can help me set up this bit of stage business? Our ever-resourceful cast, from chorus to leads, are all working on one or another of these issues. And meanwhile, we’re all still occasionally starting on the wrong note or entering from the wrong side. But until tomorrow when there will be actual paying humans in the audience, we still have the luxury of “learning by mistake”. 2034570255_87a2e2083f.jpg
Superman fights the Lings – actually he coordinates with them on this particularly tricky-to-stage song.. Also tonight, we got our first look at the rather dazzling visual effects that will, at various times, play out on the screen behind us. Projected from the booth via DVD, we saw the “scrim” fill from top to bottom with images of Superman flying over the nighttime skyline of Metropolis, along with some key plot points which I’d rather not reveal here! It’s incredible, though, to see what the film-school folks have been able to cook up. And I can’t help but marvel at the sort of desktop technology that makes it possible to cook up these kind of effects at all on such a short timeframe and minuscule budget. Monitoring the situation
The projected backdrop looms large over the stage, seen on the monitor in the “green room”. We’re also seeing lots more of the props and things like the crazy wigs the “Lings” wear when singing the wild and crazy ode to Superman that closes the first act, “It’s Super Nice”. 2035369546_eabae81ea4.jpg
Ring-a-ding Ling! The acrobats go undercover as the “Kappa Kappa Kappa” sorority girls.. At 10, once the runthrough was done, we gathered by the fireplace in the Shadbolt’s main area and David and Steven went over notes. Mine was to start my opening “security guard” dialogue earlier – but that simply means that all the steps leading up to it have to start earlier, as I’m simply the last in a series of actions. Again, the problem-solving aspect kicked in, as Jim Stewart, playing the “bank robber” in that opening sequence, determined how and when to kick off the robbery, which leads to the escape, which leads to me shooting at them, then getting shot, then reeling off my big line! We stayed and worked on notes until 10:40, when the Shadbolt crew politely kicked us out. We’ll deal with the remaining notes tomorrow, before our first run in front of an audience! View more photos from Tuesday.

Day 7: Preview performance

One week of rehearsal has brought us here, to a performance in front of a real audience. The little glitches are less and less as we all continue to absorb the stage directions, songs, and cues into our memory. And although there were some mini-bloopers, there was very little that would have been noticeable to the audience – mostly some slightly delayed entrances and the odd surplus chair that had to be yanked off stage. Overall things seemed to go smashingly well! One funny thing that happened backstage involved the green room’s TV monitor along with the sound that is piped in from the stage. Me and a few non-participants were observing the villain, Dr. Sedgwick, and the Flying Lings as they demonstrate their skills for her. I turned the volume knob up just a notch. Then we gazed in horror as the stage fell eerily silent. On the screen, the Lings continued to strike their poses, but not a word was being spoken! OH NO, we thought, something’s gone belly-up on stage! But they’re handling it with remarkable, icy calm, almost as if nothing was wrong! As it turns out, I had inadvertently turned the sound off on the green-room speaker. So there’s one moment of stage panic that didn’t need to involve anyone on stage! finale.jpg
The Finale!. Meanwhile, on stage, we learned where the laughs are! It’s always fascinating to me to see the lines that don’t read as funny on the page, but which in delivery generate huge guffaws. Similarly, there are clear “punch lines” that don’t always find their mark. You just never know. But every night is different. Tonight’s audience filled a bit less than half the theatre but that still meant about 60 or so people. And there was definitely a good reaction to be heard from them. I think we’re ready for opening night! View more photos from the preview show.

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