Hello, Dolly! plays The 5th Avenue Theatre March 7 - 29 Stage & Screen star Jenifer Lewis and Seattle's own Pat Cashman star in this classic American Musical Comedy.
**SPECIAL OFFERS** 39 and Under? Our Avenue Club price is $30 per ticket for performances Fri 3/13 at 8pm, Sun 3/15 at 7pm or Fri 3/20 at 8pm. Use code word AVENUE when signing in at www.5thavenue.org. Must be 39 and under - may be carded at the door. (Regular price up to $81)
Facebook members of ALL ages are welcome to buy tickets for the March 10 - 15th performances for $20 off the top three ticket prices. Use code word FACEBOOK when signing in online at www.5thavenue.org. Click here for Hello, Dolly event page!
Blog entry by Mo Brady (Barnaby) 2/19/09 Hello from Hello, Dolly!
The 5th Avenue is back in the rehearsal studio, preparing for their next big production from the golden age of Broadway: Hello, Dolly! --and I am lucky enough to once again be along for the ride.
Although rehearsals for the principles began almost two weeks ago, today was our first day of rehearsal with the full cast. Until this point, the company had been layering in small groups of actors little by little.
For the first few days, just the principle cast was called for rehearsals. The schedule for these rehearsals consisted primarily of "table work" - where actors literally sit around tables with our director, David Armstrong, just to speak through the lines and to discuss the plot, situation, our characters and their motivations. This is a good time to discuss the historical context of the story, as well when major information in the plot is revealed. Basically, its a great opportunity to get everybody on the same page. Literally.
For me, table work is influenced primarily by the script - looking at the lines and thinking of how I can say them in the most realistic way. I always figure that if the director has done a good job, he has cast me because he sees a lot of myself in the role. So I try to encounter at the situations in the plot as I would encounter them myself. Of course, there are some technical things that go through my head, such as being aware of where the jokes are. Also, since I recently played another shy and goofy teenager in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, I am hyper aware of how the two characters can be different. But essentially, table work is about finding the truth in the text.
Then we began to learn music, learning harmonies and cut-offs, marking in our music the lyrics that Joel Fram, our wonderfully meticulous music director, wants us to emphasize. I'm a sucker for music direction, and I enjoy his passionate take on breath marks and ending consonants. He's the kind of music director that turns the work of being particular with your notes and your lyrics into a game. Its hard not to get excited when you see the way Joel conducts.
And as the throngs of dancing waiters began staging their leaps and turns, the principles began putting the scenes on their feet (or in my case, on my knees, a lot of the time. Again, it seems that shy and goofy teenagers crawl around on the floor a lot). Most of this work takes place simultaneously, in separate rehearsal studios. Today, I was joking around with Troy Wageman, a friend and fellow cast member, that even though we had both been called for four rehearsal days, we hadn't yet been in the same rehearsal room at the same time.
Finally, today was the first day that the female ensemble joined us. Seeing the legions of waiters and cooks and society ladies - almost forty cast members in total - was almost overwhelming, and definitely exciting. This day's rehearsal culminated in another read through of the script. This read through is quite the event: all of the actors sitting around with scripts on music stands, reading the lines and singing the songs together for the first time. I should say, everyone was sitting, except our fantastic Dolly Levi, played by Jenifer Lewis. She was strutting and marching all over the room, to the delight of the cast and our small audience alike.
Now that everybody is called for rehearsals, we can begin to stage the large production numbers, such as "Put On Your Sunday Clothes" and "Before The Parade Passes By." We only have seven more days in the rehearsal studios before we get to the stage. It'll be a busy week, full of blocking and staging - quite the task with over 40 bodies to choreograph. But having the full cast at rehearsal is motivation for all of us, and should propel us to complete the task by the end of next week.
Tracee Beazer (Minnie Fay), Suzanne Bouchard (Irene Malloy), Mo Brady (Barnaby) and Greg McCormick Allen (Cornelius) enjoy the read through. photo credit Neil Badders (Ensemble)
Mo was an avid backstage-blogger for Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and spent the time during Memphis: The Birth of Rock 'n' Roll as Assistant to the Director!
We're excited to have Mo back on stage for this upcoming production, starring stage & screen's Jenifer Lewis and Seattle's own Pat Cashman.
When asked about his favorite places to eat around the theatre, he replied:
"I love happy hour! Dragonfish and Palomino's especially. Give me $2 Miso Soup or $5 Pizza and I'm set. I'm Jimmy John's all the time now. Their Beach Club is great (no mayo, please). Plus, I'm a sucker for a black white and cookie from Speciality's."
Mo joined by some fellow cast members. Left to Right, Maya RS Perkins (Ensemble), Mo Brady (Barnaby), Steven Reed (Associate Choreographer) and Tracee Beazer (Minnie Fay)
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 ...
It's Lauren Lim Jackson here, Memphis Ensemble member and Swing. Now some of you might be wondering, "What is a swing and what do they do exactly?" Well, I'm definitely not trained in aerials nor am I an expert at the Jitter Bug. A swing's job is to learn all possible ensemble parts (in my case, every female African American ensemble role or "track"). If one of the girls is out of a performance (or sometimes in the middle of a performance), it's my job to literally sing, dance and act their track. From covering lines to dancing with different partners, my goal is to make sure that YOU, the audience, can't tell that someone is missing. For Memphis, I have to know 4 different tracks, not including my own. As both an ensemble member and swing, I get the pleasure of still performing on stage and being part of the show every single night. While some people may think, "yeesh, that seems like a tough job," I see it as an exciting challenge. You never know when you're going to have to throw on a different costume and jump on stage.
I wanted to letSeattleknow that the Broadway Bears auction for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS is active online right now. Click here to visit the site.
I originated the Birdwoman in the Broadway Production of Mary Poppins, and was excited when Broadway Bears contacted me – they are featuring a Birdwoman Bear which they sent to me out here inSeattleto sign. It’s a joy to be part of such an important cause.
I’ve enjoyed what limited areas ofSeattleI’ve seen this go-around. I was here on tour 17 years ago, at this same theatre, in Annie Warbucks. One of the crew (Lee, props stage right) remembered me from way back! I remember loving the city back then. It has changed so much – so built up – but it’s still the same wonderful city.