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Thursday, October 17, 2013

Critting LOVE AND THE BARD: choreography

LOVE AND THE BARD, aka SHE FLIES WITH HER OWN WINGS from QueryCon. NA contemporary romance. 

As the squat little building that is the theater comes into view, I feel a huge smile spread across my face. The old fashioned marquee announces that The Sound of Music will be playing in July. Tonight is our first rehearsal, which always gives me butterflies in my stomach. Glancing at the clock on the dashboard, I am pleased to see that I am right on time as I get out of the car. I push open the lobby doors and rap the ticket counter with my knuckles lovingly as I walk by. This place is practically a second home. The well-worn carpet needs replacing, and the wood paneling on the walls hasn’t been in style for forty years, but I love it just the same.

Inside the theater, I can see Phil, our director, talking to a tall boy with dark hair. He must be in the cast, maybe one of Phil’s new finds. The house lights are down, but I can make out Roxy, our costumer, makeup artist, and music director. Her frizzy hair makes it easy to recognize her from behind, even with the lights down. I plop down next to her. >>careful: this one word gave me the assumption that Anna's significantly older than Coy. Also, I assumed Roxy was standing with Phil & Coy.<<

“Hello, darling,” she says, smiling widely at me as she reaches over to give me a squeeze around my shoulders. “Good day?”

I nod. “Yeah. I’m really excited about the show starting.”

“Me, too, of course. I’ve already started stockpiling costume pieces.” She grins at me, and I laugh. Phil and Roxy get into fights every show over how much money she spends on costumes. But the newspaper always mentions how wonderful the costumes are when they review our shows, so he really should get over it. After all, they’ve been working together for fifteen years. You’d think he’d be used to her extravagance by now.

Looking around, I can see that the cast is assembled on stage. Everyone comes to the first rehearsal, even people in the ensemble who don’t have any lines. Most of them are shuffling around nervously, but the old hands in the cast mingle easily. The rest of the crew sits down in the house seats. Lila, the set designer and choreographer, takes the other seat next to me, squeezing my knee to say hello. Lila is my best friend on the crew, and in real life, too. She is tall and willowy, with beautiful dark brown skin. If she wasn’t so snarky and down-to-earth, I’d probably be jealous of her for being gorgeous. Lila is beautiful; I am the short, plain one. Before I can ask her about her day, Phil stands up to give his opening spiel to the cast. >>I'd think the whole cast on the stage would be easy to spot -- why'd she have to look around? Also, when did Phil & Coy sit down?<<

“Welcome to The Sound of Music. Today’s rehearsal is a script read-through, and at nine o’clock we promise to let you go, unless you wear a costume in the show. In that case, you’ll need to stick around so Roxy can measure you,” he booms, in the overdramatic voice of one who has spent his life around a theater.

Everyone laughs at his joke, except me and Lila. We smile at each other and roll our eyes. Even though we don’t wear costumes, Phil will make us stay until everyone is done.

“We’ll start with crew introductions, and then it’s your turn,” he continues. “I’ll start. I’m Phil Davies, and I’ve directed for LCT for fifteen years. I have six toes on my right foot, and no, I won’t show you.” Everyone laughs at that, including Phil, but he abruptly pulls a straight face. “Seriously, though, I won’t. Not even if you pay me. And believe me, people have tried.” The cast is silent. Maybe they can’t tell yet if he’s being serious. I’m not sure, either, but I will definitely be paying a lot of attention to his feet for the next few weeks. >>since she's an old hand, wouldn't she know if he's kidding or not?<<

Phil moves on. “Alright, next is Anna, our backstage supervisor.  She’ll be the one ordering you around, so you better listen up. And her birthday was yesterday, so we’re going to sing to her!”

I blush furiously as I stand up and wave at everyone. I know they can barely see me, with the house lights down. It seems that Nick, the lighting guy, has realized this, too, because he heads back to his booth and flips them on. I blink a few times as my eyes get used to the light.

“Hi,” I say, trying to project my voice like Phil is always telling me to do. “I’m Anna Claysmith, and I work backstage. I’ll help you figure out when to come onstage, and what stuff to take with you. Um… Roxy likes me the best because I wear the same costume for every scene: black,” I say weakly. “And you really don’t have to sing to me-“

“How old are you?” one of the cast members yells from onstage.

I sigh. “Twenty.”  My birthday is always right around the time we start rehearsing for the summer show, and Phil always makes the cast sing to me. I think that he thinks he’s helping me get over my natural shyness. Three years later, it still isn’t working.

Phil stands up and conducts the cast and crew as they sing Happy Birthday to me. I try to sit back down during the song, but Lila puts her feet on my chair and swats at my rear as I attempt to cut my moment in the spotlight short. I glare furiously at her. She gives me her best fake-angelic smile.

After my public humiliation, the rest of the crew introductions fly by. I have worked with LCT for three years, and Lila and I are the newest crew members. I already know everyone here. So I don’t pay that much attention as everyone else says his or her piece. I’m waiting for Phil to ask the cast members to start their introductions, when I hear the swing and thunk of a chair folding up behind me. Looking over my shoulder, I see a guy standing up, waving to the cast. I didn’t know we were getting a new addition to the crew. It’s the guy Phil was talking to earlier, who I assumed was in the cast. Who is he?

Mystery Guy clears his throat and says, “Hi, I’m Coy, and I’m from Illinois.” Everyone cracks up at his rhyme. He smiles again, continuing with his introduction. “This is my first show on the crew here in Lydia. I was in one of Phil’s shows when I was seven.”  The smile gets wider, and he and Phil share a quick laugh. I wonder why.

Lila nudges me with her elbow. “This is great, right?” she whispers. “He’s cute.” I nod in agreement, not wanting to say anything and miss the rest of Coy’s introduction.

“I looked him up when I got here this summer, and luckily this show is so huge he wanted two backstage managers.  I’ll be helping Anna.He finishes and sits back down. >>my clunky edit here, you can do it better.<<

What? Phil never said anything to me about that. I turn around to say something to him, but he is already on his feet again, directing the cast to begin their introductions “and make it snappy, we’ve got a show to read.” I frown. What is this? Another backstage manager? I can handle a show this big by myself. Does Phil think I’m terrible at my job? Why has he kept me around for three years if he thinks I suck? I realize I’m holding my breath as these thoughts whiz around my head, and I try to let it out slowly. Lila notices and pats my arm reassuringly. I chew my nails in frustration. I want to give Phil a piece of my mind, but if I interrupt him now, he’ll bite my head off. I slide down in my seat and try to calm down. I know I should say hi to Coy, or something, but I’m too worked up.

The read-through begins, and I do my best to forget about Coy-from-Illinois as I begin carefully highlighting entrances and exits, underlining props, and counting the number of people onstage each scene. I have worked out an excellent organization system in my three years here, ever since I let Tiny Tim go onstage without his crutch during my first production of A Christmas Carol. I still wince when I think about that. But come on, that was three years ago! There’s no way Phil still remembers that! Then again, I do.

>>Appropriately, my main note here is: choreography. This is pretty good overall -- two thumbs up -- but there were a couple hitches in the flow. 

My other note is that the first sentence is kinda dull. How could you make spotting the theatre more emotional and intriguing? How miserable is Anna when she's not there?<<


Patchi said...

I liked this a lot. I didn't mind not knowing who sat down when, because if Anna was distracted, she wouldn't notice it anyway.

Kara Reynolds said...

Thanks for the critique, L! I really appreciate the feedback. Great notes.