After a week of reviewing material in small groups, the entire cast came together on Friday night to run the whole show. It was our first time running everything (all scenes, songs, choreography, and blocking) from top to bottom, and it went very well. I’m especially proud of the fact that we were able to run the entire show within our allotted two-hour rehearsal time.
Actually running a two-hour performance in two hours in the first attempt is a feat which can’t be overemphasized. The first run-through of a show can easily devolve into a series of fitful stops and starts as problems are encountered and issues are addressed. But focus was tight, energy was high and the attitude of “show what you know” rather than dwelling on shortfalls and mistakes kept the momentum moving forward..
This initial run of the entire show is called a “stumble through,” and for good reason. Over the past weeks, we’ve rehearsed small sections in isolation and focused our attention on independent details which had yet to be sewn together until Friday night. The objective is to perform all the elements of the production in sequence, and to begin to view the production as one unified entity — the sum of its parts. There may have been flubbed lines and mangled dance steps, and we certainly aren’t yet ready for opening night. But a sense of cohesion was there; the fruits of our labors were abundantly evident; and we now have a clear view of the hard work to be done before our first performance on March 24.
So, we’re in a great place in the rehearsal process. We still have two weeks before we move into the theater, and that should give us plenty of time to work out the kinks. Now that we’ve proven to ourselves that we have the bulk of the material under our belts, we’ll tear it all apart for further review and revision and then put it back together again for another run-through next Friday. And this process of building and re-building will continue right up until opening night.
In other news, some of the principal performers generously donated their time and talents on Saturday afternoon in a performance of vocal selections from “Princess Ida” for the Fearrington Opera Club in Pittsboro. The event was well attended and enthusiastically received. The singers were in top form and Alan did an excellent job of providing some background information, history, and basic plot points of the production.
One interesting aspect of the discussion afterwards was the consideration of the place the Gilbert and Sullivan canon holds in musical history and appreciation. Not only its somewhat prickly nestling between classical and popular music, but its place in the evolution from opera and classical music through comic operetta, British music hall theater, burlesque, vaudeville, the modern American musical, and beyond. I find it fascinating to look back at this evolution. And I find it inspiring to realize that we are a part of the continuation of that evolution. It didn’t stop in the Savoy Theater in the 1890s. Evolution never stops.