As usual, there was a lot going on at NDW this week! Some actors worked with Lisa, some with Will, and some with Cindy or myself. At one point, our production Assistant, Bella, was even running lines with a group of actors. We are busy, busy, busy.
Putting on a show is no easy feat. I think we have a lot of fun doing it, which makes it seem easy, but there’s so much that goes into every single aspect of the show. And, the closer we get to the show, the harder it can get, even as other things seem easier.
For example, now that lyrics have been learned the songs should be easier. However, now we’re adding choreography and blocking to those songs. That extra layer will make the show look better (I mean, you wouldn’t want to watch people just standing onstage and singing, with no movement, would you?), but it requires more effort. Even within the songs themselves, Will is teaching more harmony parts, changing what some kids already learned in the name of making the show even better. Along these lines are also all those onion-like layers I wrote about a couple of weeks ago. The more you know, the more you can add to the show, thereby creating more work.
When I took acting classes in college, I often felt like those took more work than my standard academic classes – and theater was only my minor! There’s a mental exhaustion that comes with theater and it’s wonderful, but it’s what the audience doesn’t see. Our job is to make acting look easy – but it isn’t, not always. As a staff member, although we’re not the ones memorizing the lines and lyrics and putting in all the hard work on stage, we’re the ones that do all the prep work and are constantly working to tweak things to make them better. That takes the same kind of energy sometimes.
I’m sure the parents and alumni working on costumes, sets, and props will tell you the same thing. Getting ready for a show is fun, but it’s a lot of work. And just when you think you’re done, there’s more to do.
Theater truly is a labor of love – that’s what makes it special and keeps people coming back for more.
I had the opportunity to do character work with some of our 8th graders this week. I love getting the chance to work with just 8th graders because we can get into it. We really dug into their characters more than I am able to do with some of the younger cast members. These guys put the work in, and because they’ve been doing this since 5th grade, they have more tools to work with when it comes to developing their characters. This may not seem like work, but it is, especially if, as an actor, you’re able to take that work and infuse it into what you do onstage.
Part of understanding one’s character is understanding the world your character lives in. This is why I’ve been sharing videos in this blog each week. As fun as it is, the 1960s were 50 years ago! Growing up as a child of two boomers, I learned 60s culture vicariously, listening to my dad’s music, watching re-runs, and hearing my parents and other older relatives talk about their childhoods and teenage years. And yet, there’s still so much that I will never understand about this decade because I wasn’t there. But the more I learn about it the closer I get. So, having said that, here are this week’s videos.
One of our characters makes a joke about Clearasil. This is a brand that I grew up with, but I thought it might be fun to share a commercial for the product from the 1960s. This is certainly retro!
American Bandstand was an extremely popular music and dance show that was on for decades and hosted by the late, great Dick Clark. Here is a great example of 60s fashion, dancing, and music coming together. American Bandstand sometimes had dance contests (similar to what you see in Hairspray) and here is a clip that shows one part of the contest finals. Which couple do you think should win?
Alright – see you all Saturday!