Friday, February 6, 2009

Performances have begun!

Blog entry by Allen Fitzpatrick (Mr. Simmons):
Written January 30th - day 4 of Memphis performances

The excitement of getting into the theatre, adding microphones, makeup and costumes, getting on stage, and then actually performing for live audiences has been tremendous.

The cast was all pretty weary of being in DAT5 (Downstairs at The 5th - our rehearsal space). As nice a space as the brand new DAT5 is, it was really time to get the show out in front of an audience. It's been so great to hear the audience laugh again at all the show's funny lines, and to see crowds wildly applaud and jump to their feet during the curtain call every night.

As big as The 5th Avenue Theatre is, it was a tight fit for all of MEMPHIS' scenery and cast members backstage, with the crew doing a million things while many in the cast are changing costumes. The patterns of movement backstage are extraordinarily intricate.
The show is a real technical challenge, but our tireless stage crew has solved all the challenges they have faced.

We're still rehearsing (onstage) for five hours every day -- really fine-tuning the show so that it will be perfect for Press Night. So many changes are put in each day that's it impossible to list all of them. Lots of harmony and music changes; choreography changes; some little cuts, some new bits. One example: since the first preview, "Steal Your Rock 'n' Roll" (the finale song) has really changed -- and Mama Calhoun and Mr. Simmons don't even appear in it any longer! And many bits of dialogue have changed, in nearly every scene. Every change seems to improve the show a little bit more.

About 20% of the show has changed since its La Jolla run; we're gratified to see that the show thrills the audience in the same way -- (actually even more) -- in a 2,000 seat house as it did in La Jolla's 500 seat house. That's good news! They're also adding brand new microphones tonight for many cast members -- the wraparound kind that gets the mike closer to the singer's mouth. It's going to help balance the sound with the orchestra tremendously. And tonight we're playing to a full house at The 5th -- that's well over 2,000 people! Unbelievably exciting.

The cast from out of town is loving Seattle, even in the winter, and can't wait to have some day-time free to explore a little more. Last Monday, I suggested that some of them take the ferry over to Bainbridge Island and have lunch; it's truly the cheapest cruise in the world! Monday was a beautiful day, just perfect for that outing, so some of them took my suggestion -- and loved the trip.

Everyone's in really good spirits, and looking very much forward to the opening night. We have heard that the word of mouth in Seattle about our show is excellent, and that makes it pretty thrilling to perform.

Let's see, what else? Actors love to eat. (Maybe because we don't always know where our next meal is coming from. Just kidding, it's not that bad.) Many of the cast members get free food at their hotel here in Seattle (what a deal!), but others head over to Palomino across the street in City Centre, or over to the WestLake Mall, to eat between rehearsal and performance. So many great places to eat downtown.

We celebrated cast member Tracee Beazer's and Head Carpenter Laurel Horton's birthdays the other day with a big birthday cake backstage.
(And -- ahem -- we'll be celebrating mine tomorrow.)
That's all for now from the land of Memphis ...

-Allen Fitzpatrick
written Jan 30, 2009

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