There’s an old saying in the theater that a bad preview/final dress rehearsal indicates your going to have a great opening. Well, good god, we’re getting a Tony out of Books (abridged) if that holds true.
For whatever reason, the theater gods laughed and laughed at us last night, and we spent the better part of an hour and a half being prey to technical gremlins. In the end – it’s nothing we can’t get past. I probably should be even too embarrassed to go into all this in a public forum, but it’s actually pretty funny. Hopefully this doesn’t scare you away …
Last night we did an invite-only preview for TBPAC employees. It’s pretty important with a comedy to get people in before opening so you can gauge mass-reaction to bits, see where the laughs may or may not fall, and assure yourself you haven’t been wasting your time for the past six weeks.
We’ve been having problems with the left sound channel all week – meaning, the left speakers have cut in and out intermittently, but the problem has been tracked back to the board. Ok, we knew that. We’ve also had some issues with the light board – sometimes we get what we call a light ghosting (when a light starts coming on in for no reason, usually flickering a bit in a place it’s not supposed to be one). Ok, we knew that, too.
We got in early last night to run the combination of the Iliad and The Odyssey (what has to be the most challenging part of the play in regards to costume changes and making it back on stage in time) and after finishing that up, we went to open the house. The music starts coming from one side of the house, as the left channels out again. Super.
Now Summer goes to turn on the lights in the theater to open the door for folks to come in. The house lights aren’t working. At all. How can we possibly get people in and out of a pitch black theater?
Fantastic. She gets on the phone with our TD and after a few anxious minutes, goes into the dimmer room for a moment then viola – we have light. Something was apparently tripped.
Ok, we’re ready to move on for the rest of the evening without incident, right? I even exhort as I head back to the dressing room, “Could one more ****ing thing break tonight!”
It’s really not cool to taunt like that, because by then end of the night I learned it could. About 15-20 minutes into the show while we’re on stage we hear a crackle then the entire theater goes pitch black. After a moment, our stage manager shouts from the back of the theater to hang tight, technical difficulties, and we improvise as best we can up there in the dark. The lights came back on after about 45 seconds (and eternity on stage), we advanced to the correct light cue and went on.
At the top of Act II, the sound board decides that even having just the right channel functional is too good for us, and a bit whooly dependant on sounds (it’s 4 people in a voiceover played to us silent onstage) starts cutting in and out, making it relatively uninteligible.
The second half of the second half actually went fine, but after all that it was very little consolation. Thank the gods that it was just a dress rehearsal, and that we knew everyone in the theater. I even thanked them at the end for sitting through such major technical catastrophes and assured them it would get better.
And it will.
After the show Summer found out the entire light board was already set to be replaced today. Also, the head of production for the building is taking the sound board out and is going to give it some TLC. We’ve also developed a few contingency plans for major technicall gaffes just in case.
And hey, none of that would have been set had we not had all those problems, right?
We all also walked away quite literally feeling like we’d dropped a load in our shorts, so that makes everyone go home, relax after the panic, center ourselves, think, and prepare to do a whole lot better for our actual opening tonight.
Ok, so I’ll be honest. I usually HATE the whole bad final dress means great opening line. I usually think it’s just a crap excuse. But at this point, it’s something to cling to – right? Jason, Shawn and myself feel good about what we’re doing, and we can’t control things like light and sound boards – we just gotta be preapred to do the show we’ve worked up.
In any case, we open tonight, and we’re praying for a spectacular run. This could be our last ride as the Bad Boys of Abridgement. Well, with a new show anyway, we won’t rule out encores. With the Millenium Musical not being quite our thing and the newest show still unseen after a tremendous amount of revision, we’re just not sure we’ll get back to them – despite how much we like doing them.
So come on out and see us. We promise a good time. There are still a few tickets left for tonight and Sunday (get them fast!), but keep in mind that Saturday is sold out!