Tech – Dog and Pony: Part 4
A month in the rehearsal studio goes by in a flash and, at the same time, it feels like there was never a time that we weren’t rehearsing! But one day, you come up for air and discover the whole process has expanded and moved into the theatre – we’ve added lights, costumes, props, sound, the orchestra and a million other things that make a musical into a show. If the time in the rehearsal studio was about learning to crawl and then to walk, tech is about crawling again at a snail’s pace so that, suddenly, you can sprint!
As I type this, the crew is preparing for our last full day of tech – including our dress rehearsal and photo call tonight. We’ll still rehearse during the day for the next week – making changes, improving technical elements, working on scenes and songs to make them even stronger – but as of May 28th, we will also perform the show for an audience every night.
In a very real way, the audience is the final (and all important) element that is added to a show. It is also the only element over which you have absolutely no control! Will they applaud in unexpected places? Will they not applaud in places we assumed they would? Will one audience find something riotously funny, while the next audience finds it mildly amusing and the next…not at all? Will a coughing jag from the third row disrupt a crucial emotional moment? There is no predicting it!
With any show, but especially with a brand new musical, each audience gives you a better and better idea of how “most crowds” will react. The value, challenge and danger to that is using their collective responses to fine tune the show. The value is in the “most crowds” part and the danger is in making radical changes based on one odd audience. Anything from the writing to the timing of a quick costume change might be altered once the audiences start to come. Choosing which elements and how they should be altered…that’s the challenge.
With Dog and Pony we are in that most exciting and nerve-wracking of scenarios. Our first audience will literally be the very first audience ever to see the show! And, in case I forgot to mention it, here at The Old Globe, we are performing in the round – an experience that makes the show more immediate and intimate but also presents numerous challenges – especially for a comedy! Roger Rees, our director, and the design team have come up with clever solutions all around and, tonight, we see them in action as real, live, actual people fill the theatre for our world premiere!
So, deep breath as we spend the day rehearsing and running the show so that we’re ready for tomorrow. When the audience arrives and we’re finally at places, everybody on stage and off will pull together to give the audience the show Rick and I wrote over the last several years and the entire team brought to life over the last several weeks. Beyond that, as the lights come down, there is nothing I can do but sit in the dark with the audience see what happens. Merde!