Nothing Whatever to Grumble at (almost)

By and large, things are going extremely well.

Costume sketches are coming in for all three choruses and for the principal characters — and they look fantastic.  I hear the work on the set is moving along splendidly.  Lighting and other “visual effects” challenges are being resolved constantly.  The props list continues to grow in new and exciting ways — and the challenges therein are being enthusiastically accepted by our dynamic props duo.

Rehearsals are also clipping right along.  We remain on schedule in terms of staging new material, and are also finding some time for review along the way.  Last night we staged “Whene’er I Spoke Sarcastic Joke” (also known as “Nothing Whatever to Grumble at”).  It is a fairly simple staging. But it contains a lot of fun character work, and should provide a delightful contrast to the more serious songs which come before and after.

The not-so-positive news is that rehearsal conflicts continue to get in the way.  This is always an issue; and is an anticipated part of the process.  Cast members have jobs, classes, families, and other obligations — so they will certainly have conflicts with the rehearsal schedule.  However, with a cast this large (over 50) it means we seldom have everyone present for the staging rehearsals.  So, much time will inevitably be spent in reviewing and re-working the material after it has been set.

On top of all the expected rehearsal conflicts are last-minute absences caused by illnesses, unforeseen schedule-changes, emergencies and such.  And also, quite frankly, those caused by forgetfulness, distraction, and a seeming lack of commitment to the project.

Nothing is more frustrating for me than arriving at a rehearsal only to find that actors are unexpectedly absent.  I’ve put in a lot of time planning for each rehearsal and must now rapidly re-think everything.  It also causes a less-than-ideal rehearsal for the actors who did show up.  They’ll have to learn choreography and/or staging while “imagining” the missing person is there; and will eventually have to go through additional remedial rehearsals while the missing actor(s) learn the material.

Unfortunately, if an actor misses multiple rehearsals we have to decide if they should remain in the cast.  It is a difficult decision.  And I much prefer for the actor to be honest and realistic enough to make the call themselves.

But if life were easy we’d all be done with it by now.

This week the producers and I had to let two actors go because of rehearsal conflicts and unexpected absences.  I’m not happy about it.  And I assume they are not happy about it.  But in fairness to the rest of the cast, and in the best interest of the production itself, it was a decision which had to be made.  I wish them both well and hope to work with them again some day under more favorable circumstances.

So: fantastic work from our technical/design team; fantastic work from the cast; an unpleasant decision has been made; and the show goes on.

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