In the Making

A Chorus Line

Posted by cjaxon on August 26, 2011

This was probably my favorite show of the summer season, although not without its troubles. Fortunately, (most) of the cast and crew were fun and eager workers, so in spite of adversity we pulled off a great final product.

Let me start at the beginning. Everything went well for the first week or so. In fact, the first day of rehearsal was really only music. At the end of the day we reviewed choreo for the opening number, but didn’t set it until the next day. The day after that, the first Friday, was one of the hardest days, because we learned the entire Montage – a massive eighteen-minute piece in four parts. The choreography itself wasn’t so difficult, but there were so many individual pieces and layers, and people had specific moments that just required piecing together slowly. We would spend two hours learning two minutes of choreo. It was just mentally exhausting to stop and start over so many times, and it took a good day and a half.

The next week seemed to be going well, but things gradually got more… interesting. For one thing, we began to see which cast members were better team players than others, and which cast members seemed to be in their own little worlds… specifically, their own worlds off to the side of the group stretching, or rehearsing other dance moves. And that’s all I’m going to say about that. Let me be clear: no one was ever blatantly rude to each other, but it’s important to be aware of how each person’s work contributes to the whole, and how each person’s actions affect the cast as a whole.

We had our first run-through on that Thursday, as usual. Which means that really, we set the entire show in 7 rehearsals, quite an accomplishment. I mean, it was pretty rough, but it was all there. Many thanks and much credit to our three “setters,” who had done the show many times before and traded off who taught which number.

Which was the first “interesting” aspect of the show – we had a wonderful directer/choreographer, David… who didn’t get to teach the choreography. We all loved and respected this guy, but the responsibility of teaching the show was given to other people, and David gave input on the acting. Which is fine, but I think we all wanted more. I mean that in a good way: we liked his direction, and I at least wish he could have done more for us.

Then, on that thursday, and the following weekend, I started to fight a sinus infection. It was not fun to try to supress a cough every five minutes, in a show like this where you can’t really leave the stage… ever.

 

On Friday, things got wor… more “interesting.” We came in for rehearsal, and David informed us that he had to leave immediately to be with his family for some very grave illness. They told us that this had been a possibility all along, the Lyric people were aware of it from the beginning, and that although he had to leave, Michael and Ashley (the artistic and associate artistic directors of Lyric) would see us through the end of the rehearsal process. And right after David left, the first scene they wanted to work on was “What I Did For Love.” I actually couldn’t sing it at all.

So then we got into tech weekend. Some tensions and negativity among the cast were building, but we banded together for the good of the show. Meanwhile, my sinus infection only got worse. I thought at first it was seasonal allergies that would go away after a few days, but this was only the beginning of the most epic infection of my life. I was a walking snot factory, and by Wednesday my ribs started hurting from coughing too much. I should have started medicines earlier, but I didn’t, and by the time I did start, nothing seemed to work. Each day I ended up trying something new, and by the time I finally got the antibiotics to knock the bugs out, I had tried at least seven different medicines just to fight symptoms. The bad news is, I had the infection through the run of the show. The good news is: I still did the show! I never had a fever, and the symptoms were never enough to make me too weak to perform. In fact, it didn’t even affect my voice too much by the time we opened.

Actually, I’m quite proud of myself for that. I mean, it was really inconvenient, and I would never choose to have to deal with that. But I secretly hoped it was something like walking pneumonia. How awesome would it have been that I did an entire week of A Chorus Line, with walking pneumonia?! Anyways, it wasn’t that, but it was epic. I’m sure everyone was tired of hearing me cough all the time. I know I was. And really, it lasted through the next week, even after I’d moved back home.

Meanwhile, other people took beatings too – allergies, a sprained ankle, food poisoning. It wasn’t an easy process. But like I said, we banded together, for love of the show… what we did for love, if you will… and some said it was the best show all season. (Or maybe I’m just biased.) In spite of our troubles, overall we had a great time, and I wish it could have gone longer than one week of performances.

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One Response to “A Chorus Line”

  1. delms08 said

    Hahaha…”a walking snot factory.” That’s pretty graphic. Lol! I am so glad that I got to see you in this show! It was a great birthday present for me! And the cast seemed to be cohesive even if there were a few altercations behind the scene. But you…you were on it! Liz and I watched you like a hawk, and we both thought that you nailed it. #gonnabefamousoneday 🙂

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