“Wow! I went to my first full run through today and was blown away. It really felt as if I were watching a show, not just scenes. This was also the first time I’d been present where the number of people facing the ‘stage’ (rehearsals are still in the rehearsal hall, not on the actual stage – that will only come later this week, less than a week before the first performance!) vastly outnumbered the four actors. The excitement was palpable.
I don’t want to give any of the antics away, but I have to say that some of the scenes I hadn’t seen before, like the end of the train scene or the sideways floor chase (and if that makes no sense, it will if you see the show…), were absolutely wonderful. And I finally saw how a big barrel stuck with odd bits of houses and trees worked, which I’d seen before but not understood – it’s for the shadow puppet sequence, and if you’re curious, since you won’t see it from the audience, you can see it in this blog entry:
It was clear that this rehearsal went very smoothly, with only a few forgotten lines. I cannot imagine how difficult it is to memorize so much text, but the biggest kudos have to go to Aaron (Clown #1), who is charged with something truly daunting: reciting a bunch of mathematical gibberish that is funny because it makes absolutely no sense! I was also impressed by how physical the acting is for each of the actors. Handcuffs hurt, so both Monica and John wear some bandaging to protect their wrists. Joel (Clown #2) and Aaron are both on their knees quite a bit, hence the use of knee pads. Joel, in particular, has some pretty gymnastic moves to make switching between two characters in one of the final scenes. All four actors are outstanding (John and Monica have some sensational facial expressions; Monica reminds me a bit of Julianne Moore or Cate Blanchett, and her facility with accents makes me think she would be a terrific Kate Hepburn in a revival of The Philadelphia Story), but the clown characters are definitely written to steal the show, and Aaron and Joel are more than up to the task.
Sean’s feedback at the end was extremely positive. He remarked that it looked as if the actors “were having fun, whether they were or weren’t,” and that for the first time, they really seemed to know exactly what came next, which allowed for little improv moments without breaking the tempo. The actors had “taken the air out” (the little pauses where previously the actors had been concentrating on “what comes next”…), and they kept up their energy and momentum for the entire show. Sean’s exact words were that “the energy was consistently high, and all of the scenes felt like they were from the same show.” He must be really pleased with what he and the entire team have created so far, and it will only get better when they move to the stage proper and have all of the real sets, props, and costumes. Stay tuned, and if you haven’t bought your tickets yet, here’s the link:
http://www.gevatheatre.org/shows/the-39-steps/” – Maggie Symington