Thursday, April 29, 2010

Close the Door at Stage Left, Open the Door at The Apollo!

Rehearsal Day 24: Last Day at Stage Left
End of Regular Rehearsals

Here we go. We're done at Stage Left's rehearsal space (thanks to Laura and all the folks there!). Last night consisted of lots of fine tuning. Elyse worked a little more swing dancing into "The Billy Bar" for Danelle and Bryan. Josh and Carla brushed up the "Miriam" blocking. What really needed some good focus was the final "Hero Reprise" scene. What worked at first was slowly turning into a "Seasons of Love" type line across the front of the stage. That or the cast looked like they were about to burst into a kick line (which could have been fun...). Chris and Josh worked along with the actors to find levels, spaces, windows to make it much more visually stimulating and interesting. The best part? A tableau that just screams "Star Wars" movie poster. (Josh says "Vacation", C-Rex and I are sold on the "Wars." Yes, we are all huge nerds.)

After a quick break, we moved on to a run of the show. There was some new energy and intentions behind some of the lines, and all the notes from Josh and Chris are being taken into consideration along with the actor's own choices to make the characters more real.

After the run, we packed up all the boxes, crates, props, and costumes and loaded it all into my car to be ready for TECH WEEK on Sunday! I was impressed with the capacity of my vehicle, as it fit: 7 plastic milk crates, 2 large crates (1 full of props), 5 cardboard boxes, 2 large armfuls of costumes on hangers, 1 dolly, 2 actors, and a stage manager after rehearsal. Thank you Ford Motor Company for making the Mercury Milan so roomy!

This weekend will consist of me wearing both Stage Manager and Tech Director hats as I further fine tune and plan out tech week. In other words, I may be having a lot of conversations and meetings with myself. At least I have and excuse/reason to be talking to myself for once!
Rest up this weekend, friends, for come Sunday, we RIP IT!!

Or, we play with Lightsaber iPhone apps! :-)

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Diction Is Done With The Tip Of The Tongue And The Teeth

Rehearsal Day 23: Final Music Tuesday

What happens when you put together a full cast, Thai noodles, Chips Ahoy, Double Stuf Oreos and shake well?

Music gold.

Last night was the last night to really bang out the harmonies, rhythms, diction, and other trouble spots in the songs. The cast has always sounded good on their songs, but last night everything started to fall into place. Our biggest sticking point has been the choruses of certain songs and getting the timing and harmonies down for the cast members singing behind the set while a soloist is out front. There was no hesitation last night, every single person was on their game, knew exactly what note to hit, and blasted it. Also, since Josh wants to cast to "save themselves" when they flub a line, I was able to be off book a bit more and really enjoy some of the vocal fun that was going on. As a teacher, I give the ensemble and A+ for doing their homework on Monday night after rehearsal!

The next item on the agenda was a line-thru of the show, with score but no singing. The trick? It was done in complete darkness. (Well, except for me and my computer and MagLite in the corner). We did this exercise when I worked with Hobo Junction on their last show, Horrible. It helps the actors really listen to each other and find new nuances as they cannot see their scene partners nor are they trapped in their blocking. For those who had never done this activity, it really brought some new things to the surface. Jake Autizen mentioned he was able to see character arcs much more clearly by just listening and without the distraction of Pitcher Hands or dollies. As I was running music cues, the one and only Dan Krall was sitting next to me and the man could not stop giggling the entire time. I believe this is the first time he's really been able to hear the show from start to finish in this final state. It's great to hear this kind of feedback. Beau stuck around on Sunday after his fight rehearsal, we also had a couple of other guests that night and they all enjoyed it thoroughly. Here's hoping the rest of Chicago feels the same way!

Also during our music rehearsal, Sarah Harmon came down and transferred the cream of the crop of pictures from Build Day and Sunday Night's rehearsal. Once again, enjoy this photo special...

Costume Design is intense.

Beau...this may be be epitome of "L for Loser."
But we still love you!

Sunny gives Simon a piece of her...foot.

And Simon shares his opinion With his fists.


Denise plays mother hen.

This is a point in the show that is hilarious, yet slightly disturbing. Josh says "I can't believe we're actually doing this..." C-Rex's response: "It makes sense in context!"

"This is hell. There's no love here. So shut up."

Looks like dancing. But it's not!

Fist Pump Debate:
In compiling a list of the best fist pumps of all time, we have come up with:
1. Bender in The Breakfast Club (This is not up for debate. This is fact)
2. Bastian in The Neverending Story

We now need your help in filling out the top 5. Thoughts? Leave 'em in the comments!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Maximum Battle Damage

Rehearsal Day 22: "Because I Have the Spatula!"*
Monday night's rehearsal began with Danelle Wildermuth and Bryan Campbell working with our lovely intern, Elyse Pancheri, on ironing out choreography for "The Billy Bar." For a song that sounds like something off American Bandstand, it begged for some fun dancing! (DANCING?! In a MUSICAL!? How revolutionary!) Elyse wanted to watch what Bryan had come up with on his own, so B-Slice ran through the song once. Elyse watched, then as he finished, slowly tore the page out of her notebook with all her choreography notes. Bryan was concerned that he did something wrong, to which Intern responded, "No, you just came up with everything I choreographed on your own." OK, well maybe it wasn't everything, just the moves during the lyrics. The dance breaks are much tighter now and Danelle has just about perfected the "I'm confused, kinda creeped out, but I know all the steps to this dance" face. It's priceless.

The rest of the cast joined us later after braving an army of Cubs fans, and we began yet another run of the show. It's coming together more and more every night. Notes consist of Josh and Chris being nitpicky and tweaking the small spots that need to be adjusted, revamped, or brought out more.

Just as we were in the last scene of the show, Janna Weddle entered the rehearsal space, arms laden with costumes that looked...incredible. There would be pictures, but that would ruin the surprise, now wouldn't it? Our cast is already good looking, so they can pull off food-stained, torn, post-apocalyptic costumes like no other. It's magical. Sunday we will have an official "costume parade" to help kick of tech week and it will be nothing short of epic.

What are we down to?

One music rehearsal.
One regular rehearsal.
Four nights of tech.
Final dress/free preview.

Then we open.

Oh! As promised, here are some of Sarah's pictures from Sunday night's rehearsal!
(There will be more as the week goes on)
Simon v. Sunny - FINISH HIM!

"Where is Love?" or "Somewhere Out There"? Thoughts?

Um. Yeah. That's Derek.


"Oh, Miriam, why did you get so fat?"

*Give yourself extra brownie points if you caught that reference...Oo! Brownies! Excuse me for a moment...nom nom nom....

Monday, April 26, 2010

Bop It!

Home Stretch!
Rehearsal Day 21: Final Stage Combat Sunday
Last Week of Rehearsals!

It's crunch time, kiddos! Every day seems to be more jam packed with getting the show ready to roll next Friday (eep!). This past Friday, Derek Elstro (Hank) stopped by Joe Griffin's apartment to lay down his soundtrack recording of "The New Girl" song, which sounds excellent. Saturday morning brought Breahan Pautsch, of Hobo Junction webmistress fame, to play flute and piccolo to layer over "Sharing My Time With You." The track sounds even more epic and incredible. Bryan Campbell was the last to record this weekend, laying down "The Billy Bar" and "Rally Song" for the soundtrack as well as the show CD. During "Rally Song," B. Campbell is harmonizing with himself and the end of the song is perfectly Simon-ized with a dash of Jason Statham.

Sunday brought our last fight rehearsal, with Beau polishing and tweaking the fights to solidify and tighten up the moves. We were able to bring all three fights up to show speed and play the score underneath, which ramped up the intensity and seemed to bring out more energy from the cast. Overall, everyone seems to be having more fun with the show now that lines and blocking are down. Josh and I have some tricks up our sleeves to shake things up a bit and play with the show as we drive on to tech week.

Sarah Harmon stopped by last night to snap some photos of rehearsal and fight call with her high-quality camera, so look forward to some excellent pictures from her later this week. For now, let's dig back into the vault of Regulars Fun Pictures for the day...
Josh and Dan look for places to hide the body. Weren't you boys supposed to be writing the music?
Dan Krall, ladies and gentlemen. Did the $1 burgers get to him? Or the Coronas?
This may or may not be the wallpaper on my computer.
Regulars+Firefly=Utter Happiness.
How does the sink work again? Right....

A move that sadly did not make it into the final fight...The Denise Battering Ram!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Guerrilla Warfare! I mean...Publicity!

So you've been following the blog.

You're counting down.

You probably have your tickets already.

What else can you do the help out Hobo Junction and get folks excited, pumped, and totally stoked for THE REGULARS?

Join us in papering the City of Chicago!
Over the next few days, you will see many of these posters all around. Help create a buzz! Talk about the posters, copy the image below print off your own and paste 'em up all over!

High a Steakhouse

Rehearsal Day 20: Run Through 2

Second run through is done and in the books!
The arc of the show is working its way into the muscle memory of the actors, as the flow of the show becomes more evident. The name of the game last night was to make the stakes higher and higher. Josh and CRex kept saying "more stakes" in their notes, which made me giggle in my little stage manager corner as the show is set in a steakhouse. It was also the end of the week and my sleep deprivation gets to me a bit come the last 45 minutes of rehearsal.

With full runs now, the actors have discovered nuances, subtleties, and brand new intentions for their characters as the interactions changes slightly, the pressure becomes greater, and the seriousness of the restaurant war settles on their shoulders. (Though not like Restaurant Wars on Top Chef, which is also excellent.) The characters are becoming more fleshed out, showing their true colors as things hit the fan.

In the next couple of weeks, there will be fewer rehearsal pictures as my hands will be occupied running cues and being on book for anyone who flubs a line. So in lieu of that, I will be posting more "behind the scenes" photos, also known as "Regulars Having Fun!" With all the craziness and stress about to unload on us over the next two weeks, thinking of kicking back and enjoying the company will help de-stress not just those of us involved, but also inspire those Junction fans out there to come out sometime and experience the awesomeness yourself!

Josh was excited about Auditions!
Thanks to the Hypocrites for use of their space for auditions
Here at Hobo Junction, we are very concerned about the well being of our actors. Back rubs supplied as an additional perk.

I promised to post this photo quite a while ago. There is only one word to describe it.
That, and I may need to start rockin' my glasses again.

Eli Approves!

We suffer for our art.
But make it all better with pirate band-aids.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

You've got to RIP IT!

Rehearsal Day 19: Music Tuesday

Last night was dedicated to polishing the songs in the show and working out all the little kinks with harmonies and the occasional lyric flub. Enjoy another photo journey through the night! All photos are courtesy of Sarah Harmon, who stole my camera and went shutter-happy while I stared at my script and pressed "play" on the stereo.
Bryan sings "The Billy Bar", because it's a bar and it's the best!

Dance Break with Carla and Ashley!
Gasp! Here we have captured the elusive Stage Manager! And she's ALONE in the picture! (This never happens...I always have someone in the picture with are a sneaky one, SarahFlo.)

Eli freaks out to "Squids Are Comin'"

The now infamous "Wint Face."

Danelle knows what she wants and knows what she needs. And she needs you to give it to her.

"Oh, Miriam, why did you get so fat?"

Bryan attempts to rally the troops with "The Rally Song." Eli is less than impressed. Or just can't look at Bryan because he'll burst out laughing...
Yeah, we're super cool and tech-savvy here at The Regulars.

Singing finished, we did a quick line-thru of the show, then enjoyed some quality chillaxing time as an ensemble. Still quite a bit to get done this week - more running of the show tomorrow, recording with Joe, finishing up props, marketing pushes, and all the other little things that will tie this together.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Stumblin' Along

Rehearsal Day 18: First Stumble Through!

After weeks of blocking the show non-sequentially, the time had come to stumble through from beginning to end. After seeing Act 2 really come together last week, I was excited to see how Acts 1 and 3 would sandwich around it and tell the story of The Regulars. Before we bit that big chunk off for the night, we did some light ironing and starching of a few tidbits. Danelle, who serves as fight captain as well, led the fight call for the night to keep the moves in everyone's muscle memory and to get in the routine of running fight call right away every day. After the work on Sunday, moves were much more fluid, more confident, and more awesome. After ten or fifteen minutes of wailing on one another, we tweaked a few minor scenes that were glossed over a bit in the major blocking sessions to refresh and transition from one scene to the next.

And then the run through began.

Here was the setup: the actors were doing their typical actor thing, checking scripts when offstage, making sure props were set where they needed to be. Intern (Elyse Pancheri) and Luke Harmon were at the ready to watch the craziness unfold. Chris Jacobs (C-REX!) had pen and paper poised to jot down a slew of assistant director notes. Josh sat on the edge of his chair, ready to observe and whisper music cues to me. I sat at the ready to be on book, cue songs, insert incidental score, and toss leather jackets and t-shirts onstage. We knew the road we were supposed to take, and were ready to take on any obstacles or potholes it threw in the way.

We began.

We ran the show.

We ended. Under time.

For those readers not so saturated in theatre, stumble throughs can be very long, very tedious run throughs of the show, as it is the very first time you run the show in its entirety. It is rare to end in your target run time. We did it in less than that. We were all shocked but excited because the energy of the show is through the roof and can only improve from this point on. There is room to play, to extend bits, and really flesh out the tale of these eight servers.

Josh and Chris gave their notes, and most of the cast went off to run through lines and fix the small flubs that crept up on them. Danelle and Derek worked with Josh on tweaking the choreography for "What I Want", and our lovely Hobo Junction Intern Elyse worked with Eli on making his trippy freak-out song, "Squids", more specific. Things are looking sharper every day! Two weeks out from tech, this roller coaster is going full speed!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Building and Polishing

Beginning of Week 5
Construction of the Set
Recording of the Score
Rehearsal Day 17: Stage Combat Sunday Polishing and more!

What a busy weekend for the Junction! On Saturday, a lovely crew of folks drove down from Chicago to help build the set in Joliet. Thankfully, the weather cooperated and we had a sunshiny, not-too-hot day to build a wall. Here's the story in pictures!
We began by fueling up at Popeye's chicken, solving the hunger emergency. Beau had a sunglasses emergency and found the nearby dollar store to alleviate said problem.

Danelle took charge of the sawing.

Luke, you've got to RIP IT! The lauan, I mean.

I know as a stage manager, I'm here for support, Bryan. But really?

Primin' the flats...

More priming

We may not have found the Golden Fleece, but we sure did find the Golden Wall!

Danelle looks pretty rad next to the graffitied wall. And this is just the beginning of the graffiti...just wait until the rest of the cast gets their hands on it. (My favorite touch is the Dante's Inferno/Boondock Saints reference over the door.) I may never order an Arnold Palmer though.
Fatties gotta eat! Finishing a very productive day with a floor picnic of Chinese food, Summer Shandy, and lightsaber iPhone apps.

Thank you to Bryan Campbell and Danelle for prepping the construction space with me and sticking around to build stuff, and thank you to Sarah Harmon, Luke Harmon, and Beau Forbes for bringing their mad building skills to the party. Now to just get it up to Chicago...

While we were being constructive on the set, Josh and Joe were being constructive on the score of the show. The songs the characters sing are done, but now they boys turned their attention to the underscore for the main action. Here's the fun they got into:

Joe is just jammin'.
Josh is just jivin'
And the skull ring plays the piano.
The music produced from Saturday sounds amazing under some of the scenes, but more on that down the page....
Sunday night brought us to another week of rehearsal, and a polishing of the fight scenes with Beau. Since all the tweaks and changes were made last week, the focus was on getting the movements fluid and slowly cranking up the speed. By the end of the night, what was supposed to be running through the fights at half speed turned into fighting at show speed and it was EPIC! Very intense, very fast, and always hilarious.

Beau had to depart early for a photo call, which left the rest of us Regs to run through Act 2 from start to finish! The little pieces are starting to click together for each scene as we (finally) run them in sequential order. The songs sound great, Josh inserted score where it seemed appropriate (including an amazing version that hearkens to the Firefly or Serenity sountracks). It's really all coming together! Not that there was ever any real doubt, but it is reassuring to see hard work pay off and become something that you can't wait to share.

We're headed into the home stretch over these next two weeks. We do nothing but stumble and run through the show until Tech Week, so wish us luck, courage, and copious amounts of caffeine!