I love it when we get to run an entire act – and that’s what we did this week! Act 1, although not perfect, is done and that bodes well for us. This week also saw the start of working on Act 2 and I can tell you that everyone is putting in a lot of hard work for this show. I would like to remind everyone that you have to keep going over lines, lyrics, and all movement (blocking and choreography) or you will start forgetting and all your hard work will be for naught!
This past week, during school vacation, I had a really great experience with several NDW people. I ran a 36-hour musical program at Cole, in which we had 3 days from auditions to performance to get everything done. Of the 13 kids who signed up for the program, 12 were NDW kids (some current, some alumni). The one non-NDW kid was a sibling of an NDW alum, so he sort of counts as an NDW kid. This program wasn’t set up as a workshop, but it was clear to me that NDW had trained these actors well, and things went very smoothly.
During the 2 ½ day rehearsal period my actors went between learning music or choreography with me, going over lines by themselves, working with Kiva or myself to figure out costuming, and going through the blocking of the entire show. When nothing specific was assigned for the actors to do they were instructed to review. The kids took it upon themselves to go to another room and work on a dance or practice a song. Several times I loaned out the vocal score to aid in reviewing music. All of this happened because these kids knew what it takes to put on a musical. They understand the amount of work and dedication needed to have a good performance and they took it seriously. Was there silliness that needed to be reined in? Of course! But overall, these kids worked hard. And what impressed me most was that they went home and practiced. After spending an 8 hour day with me learning the play, they went home, practiced, and came back for another 8 hour day more prepared than when they left. Now that’s dedication!
At this point you’re probably thinking – wow, those are some rare kids! To which I reply, of course – they’re NDW kids! You are probably also thinking, “If they spent 8 hour days with you it’s not like they had other commitments during the week, of course they went home and practiced.” And that’s a valid point. It is hard to expect kids to spend a lot of time studying a script when they have homework, extra-curriculars, and family expectations. However, doesn’t it make more sense for actors with 1 rehearsal a week to do some work on the side to help them remember what is given to them every Saturday than for actors with rehearsals every day to do extra work in the few hours they have between rehearsals?
The 36-hour musical program was reinvigorating for me on so many different levels. The thing that I am taking away from it right now though, is what happens when a group of dedicated people with one common goal can achieve when they put effort in above and beyond what is expected. There are always NDW kids who skate by in our program, never downloading music, never doing anything other than what they are told to do while physically in rehearsal. These kids are doing our program wrong. They are doing theater wrong. And they are missing out on the fun and the high that come from a job well done. Be part of the team and do your part. Listen to the music and sing along. Dance along. Know all the lines that surround your own. Make sure you review your blocking. Surely, when you know what’s going on you can enjoy it more. That is what some actors have taken away from this program. It is what I took away from this program 20 years ago, and I know that some kids will still be taking this away in another 20 years.
See you all Saturday,