80 Post 4: Opening. For Real.
For some reason, I have trouble keeping track of opening nights. Last Friday, I arrived backstage with cards for the other actors. I had broadcasted the free tickets offer over Facebook. Greg took my card with a perplexed but gracious thank you. I has one friend coming for the freebie and I checked in with Dani our stage manager about it.
“You know. For the free tickets on opening,” I said.
“Which is tomorrow,” she replied. Lucky for me she pulled out that awesome stage manager magic and my friend got in for free anyway. And lucky for everyone only one of my friends took me up on the “offer”.
Afterwards, I asked what everyone was doing between shows Saturday.
“Um, there’s only one show, Ben,” came the reply. Yes. Tech, previews and the rest of my abundant life had done me in. I was toast.
But opening – the real one, not the one I invented – rocked. It was a very full house. And the most responsive so far. I said to Greg offstage, half way through the first act, “I feel like I’m finally riding the bus and not pushing it.” That was after I had forgotten to bring Dan and James their gin, leaving them to execute a drunk scene with no booze.
Somehow, on a night like last Saturday, it didn’t matter. I mean my mistake mattered, but the comedy played and played fully and no one was the wiser. Megan, our A.D., apparently turned to Aaron in the audience and said, “You cut the gin?!”
“No . . . ” he is said to have replied.
The most exhausting stretch for me is the middle of act two, from the “American train” through to Liverpool, a sequence in which I play a full-out high energy character for a while, race on and off stage, and run through the fastest series of character changes I have in the show. I frantically swill cups of water the dressers hand me and swab sweat from face with hand towels during the changes. I shower after every show.
It feels good to be open. We accomplished a lot in a short rehearsal time. It was truly a collaborative effort, with the designers and production crew coming through big time, and Aaron leading with a light touch. Looking forward to the next two week. Stop by and check us out!