Well, here we are, a week and half away from tech week. Can you believe it? I certainly can't. In fact, I might be in denial...
Tech week is a lot of fun, which is funny because it's also a lot of work and really tiring. Unfortunately, the amount of fun and the amount of work go hand in hand. For example, if all of our tech rehearsals are amazing (everyone remembers their lines, lyrics, choreography, and blocking, allowing us to add layers to your performance, rather than fix things) this tech week could be the most fun ever. However, if tech rehearsals are not so great (lots of lines missing, not a lot of improv to cover it up, choreography's a mess, etc.) you will not be having as much fun as you could be having. Yes, this applies to the staff as well, but it mostly applies to you, the actor.
So in preparation for tech week what should you be doing? Basically, the same stuff you've been doing, or should be doing:
1) Know your lines. This week you have to be off book for most of Act 2. That's in addition to all of Act 1. Just because you are concentrating on memorizing these new scenes doesn't mean that you should stop practicing your old scenes. All scenes are equally important and your brain is a muscle that must be exercised.
2) Know more than your lines. What? I know, it's a lot of work, but you can't memorize just your lines. You should know the lines before yours (these are your cue lines). Side note: speaking of cue lines, understand that all of your lines are cue lines, but the most important cue lines you have are right before musical numbers. Jane will be listening for these and therefore these are maybe the most important lines to get exactly right. You should also know what's going on in all of your scenes. You probably think, I know what happens, but do you? Let's say that you're waiting to come on stage and no one on stage is talking. What do you do? Well, first you wait to see if the people onstage can figure it out, but if they don't it's up to you. I don't mean that you're backstage whispering lines, hoping that the people onstage will hear you. I mean that you need to enter and help out your fellow actors (your teammates). What happens if you're waiting to come on and the actors onstage skip your entrance? You need to know everything around your entrance so you can still come on and say your lines or do your expected blocking.
Okay, now what happens if you are onstage and no one is saying a line? Do you know what the conversation that's supposed to be happening is about? Can you improv a line that makes sense and gets the scene rolling again without anyone panicking? This is why you need to know more than just your lines. Things happen in live theater, sometimes these things have nothing to do with actors. For all you know, I could fall asleep at the back of the house and not cue the curtain to open or the lights to go on, but still, the show must go on! (Don't worry - I wouldn't do that to you.) Sometimes these things are easy to work around, sometimes they aren't, but the more you know, and the more prepared you are, simply by knowing the whole script and story (and not just what affects you specifically), the better you will be able to handle whatever comes your way when you are in front of an audience.
3) Know your lyrics and music. Yes, this is kind of like knowing your lines, but you have to really know the music to know when to sing your lyrics. You need to know the rhythm of the song. You need to know which verse comes first, second, third. We are, after all, putting on a musical. The people are coming for the music just as much as they are for everything else (yes, I know, most people are coming to see you, but that doesn't mean that they aren't expecting a musical). I'm not the music director, so I can't speak to all of this, but I can tell you that's it a lot harder to improv your way through a forgotten song than a forgotten scene.
4) Know your choreography. Honestly, if you don't know your dance moves you look sloppy and that can ruin the show - I kid you not. If everyone's doing different things, or if only a couple people are doing all the moves, your audience will know that you don't know your stuff. If you know your lyrics to the point where they become an extension of you, I promise that the choreography will be easier to learn. And what's more, when your choreography becomes muscle memory for you, the lyrics will be easier to remember. Ah, the circle of life... Seriously though, it's true. #3 and #4 on this list go hand in hand.
5) Know your blocking. You knew this one was coming, right? It's last on the list solely because this will hopefully get learned as you go over your lines and as you work in rehearsal. This is also one of the toughest things for NDW kids because our rehearsal space is completely different from our performance space. I remember when I worked at North Shore Music Theatre. It was an eye opening experience to see what a professional theatre did. They also had a different rehearsal space, but it was theirs and they were able to mark it up. If there was a platform, there would be tape on the floor indicating that. At NDW for us to do that would take too much set up and clean up time before and after each rehearsal (not to mention a huge waste of tape). And for a show like this, it might still be confusing because of the ramps. We can mark them on the floor, but you still have to remember when you're going under them, which you can't do if they're just marked on the floor. So it's extra important for you to know your blocking. When we get to Kennedy, if you know where you're coming from you can figure out where you are actually coming from (or going), but if you don't it will be a mess.
Now, we have 2 Saturday rehearsals left and only a couple of scenes to block. Your rehearsal time is there for you to rehearse and practice all the things that you need to practice to have a good show and tech week. That doesn't mean you don't have to put your own time into this show, but the more you pay attention and work during rehearsals, the easier it will be for you to practice on your own (or at the lunch table with NDW friends) and the better your tech rehearsals will be.
And they are your tech rehearsals, so make the most of them.
See you Saturday,