Last night, not long before blogging, I received a call from my stage manager. Apparently, one of my actors was in pain. A LOT of pain. Debilitating pain, and the meds from the doctor weren't making it a whole lot better. Now fortunately, this actor is fairly close to my size (he's a bit brawnier and a little taller, but of the actors in the cast he's the closes to my size), so in the unlikely event that I should have to play his four characters this morning, we probably wouldn't have to scramble for new costume pieces. Now, there were certain scheduling things to work out to make it possible for me to play the show if necessary, so we worked them out and said "we'll see in the morning."
Well, this morning came, and at about 8 a.m. I learned that poor Marty was having a terrible go of it and was going to have to call in sick. If you know Marty, you know it would take a TON for him to miss a show, so we were convinced it was really pretty bad. Off to work I go a little early, with about an hour to prepare for the performance of the show I spent a month directing and have spent the last three weeks watching at least twice a week.
The funny thing was, I was totally calm about the whole thing. After the call last night, I laid down for a few moments and just ran over the whole show in my head and realized I knew virtually ALL of the lines without any review. That was promising. I was also pretty confident that I could hit all of the musical numbers, save for one, with just one run-through to get them good and warmed up. I was mostly worried about getting down all the scene changes and the costume changes necessary for the multiple characters popping up in consecutive scenes in fairly rapid succession.
The rest of the cast was fantastic in answering all my wardrobe-related questions, and I got the unparalleled honor of playing a show I directed and sharing the extraordinary moment of performance viscerally with the team of actors I worked side-by-side with to get the show up in the first place. I always hate it (as a director) when a show opens because I am for the first time in the process shut out from the continuing of the work. I can watch, I can give notes, I can spread encouragement, but I'm not a part of the team anymore. The well-earned moment now belongs to the cast and the crew, and it's very bittersweet. Today, however, I got a chance to share it with them. Well, all except the poor chap who was doubled over in pain to afford me the opportunity. Truthfully, I do feel fairly guilty to have appreciated/enjoyed this opportunity so much. I honestly do wish he hadn't fallen ill. I'd rather he have played this morning than I. Still, in the absence of that ideal situation, I feel so fortunate to have been the one who got to step into his shoes (quite literally) and play the show.
The performance went well, I think. I only had one major misstep onstage, but I'm pretty sure if you didn't know what was supposed to happen there you wouldn't have caught it. (In fact, I've had that theory confirmed by several folks who saw that part of the show and didn't notice anything was wrong) I actually messed up every single costume change and had to redo some portion of each of them, but I still managed to make each entrance on time properly dressed. I don't know that I turned in a blockbuster performance, because I was so busy concentrating on what I was doing, what happened next, and what I was to do with all of the props during the mad tea party, but I know I did well enough to look like I belonged, and I hope I did a good enough job to honor the work that Marty put in to creating and maintaining all of those zany characters.
And, because Marty's Marty, he was back for the evening show, so my limited engagement run in Alice Now! was just that: limited. There were a few moments I wanted another crack at, but I'm glad the show's cast is back together again. The sad thing about such a whirlwind of an experience is that it happens to fast, when you get to the end you almost feel like it didn't really happen. It did happen, though, and Hannah has the cell-phone-quality video to prove it.
Also of note: during tonight's show, there was a thunderstorm and a petting zoo that featured a baby zebra.
I mean come on. Days like this don't come around all the time.