Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Legally Blonde

For the past few months I've been working as the Apprentice Director at Pentacle Theater.  An Apprentice Director at Pentacle Theater is a little more than an Assistant Director.... I gather.  Actually, I did what I was trained to do as an Assistant Director... whatever the director didn't want to do, assigned me to do, or I could do to relieve stress in a relativity stressful rehearsal process.  I blocked scenes... I started rehearsals... I unlocked doors... I kept track of blocking and ALL technical needs... I sat with the light board operator to help him get his cues... I took notes.... I gave notes .. I cleaned decks and took out trash... I washed dishes... I hung lights... I fixed spot lights... I fixed gobos... I built set... I worked backstage when crew was missing.... I parked cars... I locked up... I gave acting advice... I cleaned up scenes... I dealt with emotional actors... I ran interference... but my favorite use of my time was that I made a stronger friendship with a remarkable person.
I had the privileged of working with my friend Robert Salberg with this production.  He is a very talented artist.  The greatest thing I learned from him with this production has to be delegation   He is a master of delegation   I also got to see his big heart.  I worked with him over the summer, but I didn't get to see into his soul at CET.  He is good at hiding the "real" Bert.  However, during the process of getting Legally Blonde off the ground I was able to see more of the kind of person Robert really is.  He is kind, generous and actually, very insecure in some things.  I was surprised at how spiritual he actually is.  He may have turned slightly away from his Catholic upbringing, but he still relies on god more than he cares to admit.  LOL.


At Pentacle Theater the rehearsal processes begins at the rehearsal space in downtown Salem.  It is an odd shape.  It's hard to get a feel for what the space will be like when the show is able to move into the theater.  After 4 weeks of rehearsal in the downtown space, we were able to move out to the theater.  Tony, the Tech Director had been working all day on getting the basics of the stage floor plan in place so that we could begin rehearsals immediately.


The process of moving into the theater starts with re-blocking the scenes and dances.  We didn't have to adjust too much for the scenes.  Dances were a different matter.  We didn't plan for some of the level changes, I guess.  The process of re-staging takes a few days.  When we aren't busy re-working the scenes we would all pitch in to build, paint or clean up the set.










The Friday before Tech rehearsal we did a light hang.  I am grateful my friend, Jeff Witt, doesn't mind climbing ladders.  He was willing to scamper up there and hang and focus all the Ellipsoidal I was prepping on the floor.  The theater just purchased new LED instruments for back lighting, a few new Source 4 instruments for gobos, and the wiring to run it all.  After Tony got to know me better, he started to rely on me just a little more with lighting needs.


We ended up with nearly 200 cues.  I am glad I wrote down every time Robert said some thing was going to happen.  It would have taken FOREVER if Tony had to decide every cue.  He had only scene the show once.  We knew the show.

I also fixed the spot lights.  I pulled hairballs out of one spot light and I found a dead mouse with the other spot light.  My goal was to make them more quiet. I guess I succeeded.  One was silent.  The other was still noisy... but it was better than it was.  I taught the girls how to run the lights and even changed lamps in the middle of the run.




This was one of my favorite rehearsals.  I blocked the Take It Like A Man scene.  I blocked my friend Jeff to go behind a screen and to change into a suit.  The first day we tried it with costumes was hilarious.  I nearly peed my pants laughing.  He came out without his pants and his arm through the wrong hole, missing his shirt entirely yet still getting it in the arm hole of the vest.  I'm pretty sure Amanda lost it a couple times during the song.


With a cast of 38 space was a little crowded.  It was standing room only in the Green room.


The orchestra was shoved unto a small space backstage.  The Music Director and the Tech Director were at each others throats.  My friend Jeff and I did our best to make everyone happy.  The trouble is, there really isn't much space back there.  Everyone needed to remember that we all needed more, but we all had to share.  The band was very loud.  At times, it overwhelmed the singers.   We tried to control that a little by hanging egg carton foam on the flats.



We had to build a little room off the side of the building to store props.  We had a ton of props.  Mario, the stage manager, did a fantastic job play Te-truss with the props and getting it all on and off the revolve in a quiet timely manner.  I know it first hand.  I worked backstage for at least 7 of the 18 performances.  ;)


I really did learn a ton of good lessons from legally Blonde.  OMG , what a great run we have had!  It has been amazing!  Truly.  I continue to love musicals and Legally Blonde the Musical really brought the character of Elle Woods in to perspective. When I started this process I thought Legally Blonde was actually huge for girls and their self esteems. But I discovered it is So Much Better than that.  Here are some of the lessons I have learned from the cast and the show over the course of auditions, rehearsal and performance of this extraordinary adventure:

Never allow another person's opinion of you dictate your future.
People will always have an opinion of you - either good or bad. The most important thing is for you not to allow other people's opinion of you to shape your future. Just because someone says you don't measure up to certain standards does not mean they are right. And apart from that, even if you lack certain skills you can find a way of learning that skill in order to develop yourself. (I learned this great gem because one of our cast members needed a stern chat for not being prepared and side directing others.  She didn't handle it well and she would often cry at random times throughout the run of the show.)

Don't wait for adversity before you decide you can make it.
In our story, it wasn't until Elle was rejected and humiliated that she realized she had potential in the inside of her. She was almost accepting her lot in life before someone spoke a word of encouragement and she came to the understanding that she could do much better.


Inside of us is that seed of greatness waiting to be germinated.  We all have seeds of greatness within us. It is left to us to activate that seed and allow it to germinate.

Sometimes appearances can be deceptive.  I'd say this is so true.  Many of the cast members stepped up and surprised me. Others fell flat.

Surround yourself with people who will encourage you, not put you down.
It is not worth hanging out with people who constantly put you down and don't have anything positive to say about you. There is absolutely nothing wrong with friends pointing out areas where you need to improve, but when it appears you can't do anything right by them, then it may be time for you to find a different set of friends.

Help sometimes comes in the most unexpected places.

It does not pay to look down on people.

In an audience of women, dogs on stage trump shirtless men. LOL.  Seriously.  We had two dogs in our show.  The dogs got so many compliments!  For being dogs!  Women gasped. Girls cooed and awwed. As for the dogs, they mostly just walked across the stage on leashes, or sat in actors arms.

 ...But a UPS guy in short shorts trumps any dog. Yes, the fervent audience of Legally Blonde enjoyed the Chihuahua and bulldog, but what they enjoyed more was a guy with a big package. LOL!  The guy playing our UPS guy was a math teacher - never been on stage.  He was engaged to our Paulette.  I spent one rehearsal teaching him to walk and strut.  I also had to teach him to say his lines without pausing.  In the end, he brought the house down!

Don’t change who you are just to fit in. One of my favorite scenes in the whole show is Harvard Variations - when students stand around bragging about what they have done to improve society, or going off about their countless accolades and Elle is just herself.  This is a great lesson for me.  I often don't fit in.  My religious side of me doesn't always fit with the artist side of me... and the artist side of me often doesn't fit with the religious standards.   There are times I don't know what to do or what to think.  I don't go out with the cast and crew after rehearsals.  I'm not even invited.  LOL.  They are friends, but not "hang out" friends, I guess.  I probably wouldn't enjoy the bars they go to eat at.  On the other hand, my church friends don't come to see my work.  They don't understand it.

Be nice to people, you never know who could change your life. While Viviane essentially got off being a snotty princess, Elle is legitimately nice to the people that surrounded her. Although in the beginning people where essentially rude and snobby she didn't let it get her down. You can see it blossom into an amazing friendship with Paulette and Emmett.  Some cast members struggled with this lesson.

When life hits you with a pink playboy bunny suit never be afraid to standout.
Alright so this is slightly humiliating, and a tad overdone, however when she shows up wearing that suit and well is essentially set up for failure she doesn't let it get her down or embarrass her. She stands up to her antagonist and sets herself out to show them all! 

Hard work always, always, always pays off. Once Elle starts cracking the books and starts actually kicking her own butt in school you see her become an articulate woman with something to say.

“Exercise gives you endorphins, endorphins make you happy, happy people well they just don’t shoot their husbands.”  Alright exercise is good for you, I don’t know how true the rest could be.  I really need to find a way to like exercise.  LOL.

First impressions aren't always correct. Again, when everyone met Elle they thought she was just some dumb girl with no sense of direction. When you don’t take the time to get to know someone you shoo them into this category immediately, never letting people show their true colors keeps your coloring book quite dark, never judge someone from their first encounter. You never know who you’re not meeting by judging from the start.

Always have faith in yourself. Yes we have family, friends, people in general that wish us only the best, but if we don’t have faith in our own selves how far can we really go? Faith in yourself is the only way you’re ever going to get anything truly done.

Wake up and acknowledge each beautiful gift you have. See it as another day to enjoy the sights, sounds, smells, and sensations life has to offer.

The attitudes of the people you spend time with are catchy. Whether they’re positive or negative, they’re rubbing off on you.

Practice is what starts it... Dedication is what finishes it.

Success is a mindset. If you want to be successful, start thinking of yourself as a success.

We must be willing to let go of the life we planned for, so we have time to enjoy the amazing life that's in front of us.

Don't worry about what you can't control and you may liberate yourself.

We are our thoughts. We cannot change anything if we cannot change our thinking.

In life, the questions are often complicated and the answers are simple.

Spend quality time with quality people. Our joy often increases when we share it with others.

A shark can never give up, the moment it stops swimming it drowns. Maybe that's why it is the most feared creature of the sea.

Success is a risk. If you’re not feeling a little uneasy, then you’re not doing it right.

Happy people do not grieve for the things they don't have, but rejoice for those the they do.

Action brings progress. Do not confuse senseless movement with action.

If you’re doing your best, you won’t have any time to worry about failure.

Optimism is a happiness magnet. If you stay positive, good things and good people will be drawn to you.

If we truly want to make a impact - big or small - we have to be comfortable with being uncomfortable.

Your greatest task isn't to find love, but to discover and destroy all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.

It is better to offer no excuse than a bad one over and over again.

Stress is resistance to living in the moment.

The truth reveals itself when you look with your heart.

Do more than just exist.

We are only as strong as we are united, and as weak as we are divided.

Waste no more time arguing about what a good person should be. Be one.

Everything is possible for the person who believes.

The fatigue might be there, but you must understand that putting it aside is the single most important factor in succeeding.

If you’re thinking like everyone else, then you aren't thinking.

 
To make someone happy, give them three things: attention, affection, and appreciation.

Best friends are those who make your problems their problems too, just so you don't have to go through them alone.

If you climb upon your obstacles, you get a better view upon your goal.
Integrity is not something you show others. It is how you behave behind their backs.

It's easy to catch the eye, but hard to catch the heart.

So there it is… my thoughts after a successful run.






These Two are two of my proudest moments.  Marissa has been my student for just over a year.  She did a great job in auditions and made the cast as a Delta Nu.  Amanda had only bee my student for just over a month.  She wasn't even trying for Elle.  It wasn't even on her radar   But she landed the most coveted role in the show.... Elle Woods.  She had to fight through illness the opening weekend, but by the end of the run she was hitting all her notes.  She still has some things to learn, but she is getting this belt thing down.  She is also a pretty nice little actress.  This girl is going places.  She also landed the director... lol... another coveted role. Many of the young girls had a crush on Robert.  She's the one that captured his attentions.  ;)
These tow are the other two I'm proud of.  Megan has been working on belt for about 6 months.  She did a great job.  Belt is hard to learn.  Yet, she was belting those high notes like a champ.... even when she was super  sick on closing night.  Then there is my daughter Hannah.  She operated a follow spot for the show.  She proved herself to be a hard worker... dependable...  respectful.  She definitely made her mom proud.

Finally, my friend Dani is amazingly creative.  I am not sure when this gnome thing started, but she made Robert a gnome of every cast member in the show.  It was amazing!
So... that is that... the end of another great show.  Now it's time to get ready for the next show.




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