We’re off to a rip snortin’ start at NDW (although sometimes rehearsals can feel a bit more wild and woolly)! All the music has been taught and now it’s up to our actors to practice their songs at home. Choreography has started and the kids are looking good. They now have to master dancing AND singing at the same time! And as if all of this wasn’t enough, we have started blocking.
In honor of the Super Bowl this past Sunday I wanted to write something about the “Super Bowl of musical theater,” but what is that anyway? Is it the Tony Awards? That seems like the obvious answer, but maybe that’s too obvious. There are lots of high schools and youth theater groups that compete, so maybe that has something to do with the “Super Bowl of musical theater,” but that doesn’t feel right because not everyone knows about that.
Here’s what I’ve landed on – the performances themselves. As artists we are constantly competing against ourselves, striving for each performance to be better than the next and doing what we can to sell out shows and get the community involved. Here at NDW, this is especially true. If you saw one of our Saturday or Sunday shows this fall, you know that there were little kids dressed up as pirates who were invited onstage at the end of the show. We performed not only for ourselves, but for those kids as well. That’s the community piece of it.
Our tech week is like playoff season. While we aren’t competing for a spot in the “big game” we are working towards the “big game” all week long. We work hard, we’re finding our strengths and improving upon our weaknesses. Come opening night our “Super Bowl” has begun. From the minute the lights go down and the performance starts, our actors are doing what any football team does best on any given Sunday. We’ve prepared, we’ve reviewed our playbook, and now it’s time to put all that hard work to the test. And more than that – we do it as a team.
A lot of people forget that theater requires just as much teamwork as any sport (more in fact as we don’t have a 2ndstring waiting in the wings as an understudy). I probably write something to this effect in this blog every week, but it’s an important point to stress and I’d be remiss for not mentioning it while comparing theater to the Super Bowl. While I’d like to tell you that every performance is perfect - every kids knows all of his lines and when to speak, comes on at just the right moment, and never gets sick show weekend – that is just not the case. Without the team that our cast becomes, we would never get through a show. When a line is missed, another team member finds a way to continue the play, which could mean skipping the missed line, but it could also mean saying something that’s not in the script in order to help jog her fellow actor’s memory. What happens at least once a year, though, is that someone misses an entrance and other cast members have to cover. Sometimes they are able to say all the lines that would be missed, sometimes they have to stall for time by creating new lines. Either way, this is only possible because our cast is a team. Okay, practice also has a lot to do with it!
When you get to the Super Bowl, or World Series, or whatever, you want your team to be at its best. You’ve been working together towards this common goal all season and it’s finally here – so you’re more than prepared for it. All the long hours of reviewing tape and plays works for people in sports, just as all the time spent reviewing lines, blocking, choreography, and music works for us in theater. Even some of the worst tech weeks get us to a great opening night (and unlike in sports, if we mess up we still get to perform)!
The other thing to keep in mind is that we’re not done after we open. We still have 3 shows left to go. None of our actors think, “Okay, I got through Friday night, now I can take it easy and not care as much.” Rather, our actors continue to improve upon what they started. Sometimes this is an internal thing, sometimes directors are asked for help and guidance. No one wants to let down their teammates, their family, here at NDW and no one wants to be the one messing up on stage during “the Big Game” performance weekend.
So as you think about the Super Bowl and the Pats incredible win this week, keep in mind that our personal theater super bowl is right around the corner and time to lay the foundation for our great performance weekend is now.
See you Saturday,