NDW Rehearsal #9

Things are starting to come together. Which is good because we have one more Saturday rehearsal left. Can you believe it? This week we ran all of Act 1 (although not in complete order), worked on Act 2 some more (we have only 1 ½ scenes left to touch/block), reviewed songs and choreography, and finally revealed that Fresh and Fruity was the winning mentor group in the guess-how-much-food-we-donated contest.

We also had a chat about why actors should not talk during rehearsal. The 8th graders were present for part of this, but not for all of it as they were getting their pictures taken in costume. The gist of the conversation was that by talking during rehearsal you are distracting your fellow actors and setting a bad precedent for when we have an audience that will be able to hear you backstage. We also discussed the fact that we have very few good role models, and that as a result, bad behavior gets passed down from class to class, group to group. All of these things were volunteered by our actors, with me leading the discussion and reframing some things that were said. Of course, in the end, none of this made a difference and our actors continued to talk during rehearsal.

I’m really hoping that this does not happen during tech week, but I know it will, which is highly unfortunate. As a couple of people brought up during the discussion, talking during rehearsal also eats up rehearsal time. Every time we have to stop to ask folks to be quiet is another minute lost. In fact, without all of the rehearsal talking, the discussion wouldn’t have happened and that time could have been used for a theater game to help prepare our actors for the inevitable improvisation that comes with live shows. So maybe, just maybe, our actors will be quiet and we’ll get a ton done during tech week… maybe.

I’ve already talked about tech week, so this week I think I want to talk about the 8th graders. Not our particular group of 8th graders, but 8th graders, as our graduating class, in general. This Saturday marks the last Cole rehearsal for Natick Drama Workshop for our 8th graders. Sure, they can come back as alumni next year, but for some that will be hard with set building, speech tournaments, and other high school related weekend commitments. And it won’t be the same for them. Some might not even be able to get themselves out of bed on Saturday mornings come fall! So, this is a really big milestone. In fact, from here on out, everything about NDW will be a big 8th grade milestone. Last first day of tech week. Last cast dinner. Last time Cindy/Debbi/Will/Lisa has to yell for quiet. Last tech rehearsal. Last opening night. Last everything – all leading up to the final performance and the festivities that follow.

I’m not trying to make anyone cry, but I am trying to explain how important this upcoming week is, not just for our 8th graders, but for all of our actors and parent volunteers. There are a lot of lasts coming up for a lot of people and a lot of faces that won’t be back in the fall. But fear not, because wherever you go, you will have Natick Drama Workshop.

I should know – I’m a proud NDW alumna. I can’t quite explain the full influence of this program on me. It was certainly different in the 1990s than it is now.

I can tell you, for example, that I learned theater terms from NDW (like blocking). I learned how to audition, what tech week is, and to always angle out so as to not upstage myself or another actor. But those are tangible things (I mean you can’t actually touch any of those examples, but they’re all practical skills that can be applied elsewhere). I can also tell you that NDW helped me grow more confident, but even that isn’t what I’m getting at here, as truthfully, most of that growth happened, for me, in high school and college.

What NDW leaves you with are fond memories and a community that will last a lifetime. Not all of my NDW memories are happy – I’m sure I’ve mentioned to several people over the years how I was teased by certain people throughout this program. But most of my memories are happy. Some memories aren’t full, they’re just glimpses. Every Saturday morning I woke up, knowing that Natick Drama Workshop continued, and even as I moved on, that was a nice thing to think about.

I was in the program with people who had younger siblings, or were a younger sibling themselves, and NDW was a place for families, or generations, as I call it. I’m an only child, but the girl I babysat for, and many of her friends, joined NDW after me – she was my legacy.

After NDW I went to high school and had classes with people who were in the program with me. Some did theater or speech team with me, but many did not. I can only think of one NDW person that I was actually friends with in high school. Yet, those NDW people, especially those that were in my 8th grade class, are people that I will forever be linked to. At high school reunions when asked what I’m doing, I always mention Natick Drama Workshop, and those same people are a little bit in awe that I’ve managed to hold on to this wonderful program. We keep in touch via Facebook and I know that they’ll always be people I can reach out to because of this shared experience.

Beyond that, I meet people who were in this program that I don’t know and we share an instant bond. I once hunted down someone who worked on a boat that brought people to the island where I work during the summer because I knew that he had been an NDW kid. When we finally met we talked about the program (and about Cindy). I know that wherever I go, if I find myself with an NDW person, I’ll be okay because I’ll have them. That’s the ultimate community.

So, as we go into this last week, don’t be sad – think about all the memories you’ve made, friends you’ll have forever, and skills that you’ve learned. And remember that the safe space that we created for you (hopefully) at Natick Drama Workshop never goes away – we’ll always be your community and we’ll pop up at strange and wonderful times to reminisce and keep you company.

Alright, time for more 60s songs and clips.  I’ve tried really hard to post things in my blogs that are referenced in the show and there are two big things that I kept forgetting about. One is The Beach Boys (more on them below) and the other is In Like Flint. This is one of two spy parody movies (think James Bond, but sillier).  I remember flipping through the cable channels at my house once, back in the day, and stumbling upon this movie. I don’t remember much about it, and think that this should be my wake up call to rewatch from the beginning, but in the meantime, here is the trailer, from 1967. It’s a little long, but you’ll get the idea from the first 1 minute and 10 seconds.

The Beach Boys are also referenced. There are many from my generation who remember this singing group from their appearance on Full House when Stephanie referred to them as “Big Boys!” – you know, cause they’re adults and not actually boys. In the 90s they had a little bit of a comeback with “Kokomo” and Uncle Jesse himself played drums for them on occasion. I was lucky enough to see them live when I was in 8th or 9th grade when they performed at Brandeis University. I had of course known their music from when I was a little girl, and although not my favorite group from the 60s, certainly in my top 5.

Growing up, I used to listen to Oldies 103.3 on the radio when I was getting ready for school and camp. One morning, I was listening and a song was dedicated to someone named Debbie on her birthday. I thought, “What a coincidence – It’s my birthday, too!” Yep, later that morning my parents asked if I had heard it and I suddenly realized that I was that Debbi! The song my parents dedicated to me on my 14th birthday was “Little Surfer Girl”. My favorite songs by The Beach Boys, though are “Don’t Worry Baby” and “Fun, Fun, Fun”. However, I would be remiss for not sharing “Good Vibrations” with you. Off the Pet Sounds album, this was one of many songs that was influenced by The Beatles. Pet Sounds, in return, influenced The Beatles’ Sargent Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album. Interestingly enough, during the height of Beatlemania and the British Invasion, The Beach Boys tended to be the only American Band to beat out some of those British bands on the Billboard charts. So, if you’re ever looking for the perfect 60s group to play on the 4th of July, The Beach Boys will always get my vote.

I would love to give you a whole list of other 60s bands to check out, but that would take forever. So instead I will leave you with one of the only 60s songs that I hadn’t heard before a cover of it was on the charts. Tommy James and the Shondell’s “I Think We’re Alone Now” was covered by Tiffany, the queen of the mall herself (and not to be confused with Debbie Gibson), in the late 1980s. (BTW, I saw her live, too!) I loved her version of the song and when I heard the original version, I loved that too. Tommy James and the Shondells (not to be confused with plain old Tommy James, who did make some good music after going solo, as well) are a great group and one that I think gets easily overlooked. During the 80s, at least one other song of theirs was covered. Do you know which one? I’ll give a high five to the first person who can tell me what song it was and who covered it.

Okay, that’s all I have. I hope you enjoy all the music above!

See you Saturday,

Debbi