Friday, March 19, 2010

Good-bye 42nd Street!

Well, the journey to 42nd Street is over. Thank you for following this blog and hopefully enjoying a chance to see the process of putting on a musical. If you were one that also had the opportunity to come see the show, thank you for attending! It would not have been as much fun without you there laughing and cheering us on. Though the show is over and life is supposed to go back to normal, that has not been my experience. Reason: I went ahead and auditioned for another play the day after our closing show and have jumped into rehearsals this week already! Due to my self induced crazy rehearsal filled life, I have not been able to post the kind of final 42nd Street blog I had in mind. You know, with pictures and maybe a final video. If you're an avid blog follower (all 2 or 3 of you out there), stay tuned for pictures. I'm hoping to post a satisfactory closing 42nd Street blog soon.

Side note:
My next adventure - Little Women. I'll be playing the role of Jo March at the Driftwood Theater in Aberdeen, WA this May. Maybe I'll just keep blogging here... about my journey back to 1863!

Monday, March 8, 2010

First weekend of shows = a success!!!

What a weekend! Our first three shows were so much fun! It was wonderful to be able to finally perform in front of an audience! And what responsive audiences they were!!! Each show was different - the crowd laughed and cheered at different parts, but that's what was so energizing. Just knowing that the audience was giving their honest reactions to what they were experiencing, whether funny or impressive, seemed to feed the cast with just the right amount of energy we needed to pull off a great show each night.

Everyone did a fantastic job. The orchestra sounded amazing - as always. No surprise there! The tappers were FULL of excitement and energy and tapped their little feet off! Everyone who delivered lines seemed to have this extra boost of energy and pizzazz. The solos sounded strong and full of life!! Sometimes it's easy to have a good show and then have a not so good show the next night, due to the performers thinking they don't have to work as hard since they did such a great job the night before. Our director warned us of this tendency and I believe it was a warning well heeded. I personally felt that each show was an offering of our best! None of the performances this weekend were exactly the same, but all of us gave it our all and as a result, I believe we had audiences that were thoroughly entertained.

Some of my favorite moments from this weekend’s shows:
- Passing by my sister and dad back stage throughout the show and whispering to each other comments like, "Great job! Nice tapping out there! They think you're so funny! The audience loves you!" What a family memory we're making - I just love that!
- Honestly, coming out to take my bow at the end and seeing people clapping for me and rising to their feet felt pretty good. I felt a great sense of accomplishment during the curtain call each night. This whole cast has worked so hard and to hear the cheers from such a large audience was such a great confirmation that all of our hard work was worth it!
- Cast parties. There were two different cast parties I was able to attend on opening night. I was up really late, but none of us seemed to mind! We all had a great time just hanging out, enjoying each other's company outside of a rehearsal setting.

Now that this first weekend is over, it's all about getting rest for next weekend. I want to be sure to stay healthy so that I am able to give 100% to the audiences we will get to perform for this coming Friday, Saturday, & Sunday. If you have not yet bought tickets for 42nd Street, I highly recommend that you click on the link above and get yourself to the Bishop Center this coming weekend!! We would love to take you on a journey to 42nd Street!!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Home Stretch

I can hardly believe that 42nd Street opens in a matter of days. All our hard work is just about to pay off with the incomparable thrill of performing in front of an audience. We're in the final stretch of rehearsals and it feels like life is flying by 100 miles a minute. I'll just touch on a few fun 42nd Street related activities I've experienced in that last few days.

Tech rehearsal - on Saturday I was one of about 15 cast members that got to hang out in the theater for 8 hours! I don't know where this particular rehearsal got its nickname but everyone calls this rehearsal, "the lottery." If you are chosen to participate then you have "won the lottery." I spent all day waiting to feel like a winner... Though it was a long (and sometimes boring) rehearsal, we got some free meals out of the deal and over all a lot of technical details were ironed out including lighting cues, scrims flying in and out, and curtains opening and closing. Overall, it was a very productive day at the theater.

Promoting the show around town - I've had the privilege of attending a few community club meetings to perform a few numbers from the show. The response has been all positive and I'm having so much fun meeting some future audience members and giving them a sneak preview of the show.

Radio fun - I was also invited to join a handful of cast members and our assistant director, Debbie Scoones to promote the show on the air! What a fun time!! I studied speech communications in college so having just a few minutes to clearly communicate and cleverly promote this show is right down my alley. A bunch of us will be on the radio again tomorrow morning!

First dress rehearsal - last night we ventured into our first of three dress rehearsals this week. Wow, suddenly this show is so different!!! Everyone's in full costume, make-up, and fun hair-dos. That alone is enough to distract me a bit, plus we now have cool lighting, full orchestra, enormous set pieces, microphones, scrims coming in and out, etc. It's taking every ounce of professionalism within me to not let these fun additions throw off my focus. It's pretty crazy how the littlest thing can get me distracted for even just a few seconds!

Last night was a lot of fun. Though it was a late night, we're all starting to get a real sense of what our hard work is accomplishing. Scene changes are getting smoother, CRAZY fast costume changes are starting to work, and with each scene we're getting that much closer to Friday's opening performance. After two months of HARD WORK, I believe we have a show, folks!!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Monday, February 22, 2010

Crunch time!!!

WE OPEN IN LESS THAN TWO WEEKS!!!! Yep, 10 days... approximately 240 hours... but who's keeping track, right? :) Today will be the first time the cast rehearses with the orchestra. I have a lot of respect for the musicians. They sacrifice a lot of time and don't end up with much recognition for all their hard work. I would like to take this moment to give credit where credit is due!

First of all, the musicians that play for the GHC musicals are always top notch!! Of all the spring musicals I've attended at the Bishop Center, the orchestration has never disappointed me! They are always fantastic! This group of musicians put a lot of time and effort into sounding so good together. While the 42nd Street cast has been rehearsing at the theater these last few months, the orchestra has also been having their own rehearsals under the direction of Bob Richardson.

It's not a glamorous job - being an orchestra pit member. They're somewhat hidden from the audience - down in that pit. They share a very small space - especially after all of the instruments, chairs, and music stands are put in place. Everyone's personal space preferences are definitely pushed to the limits. Sometimes they have to deal with fog billowing off the stage and falling straight down upon them to where they can't even see their music. They never get to watch and enjoy the show from the audience. In fact, most of the musicians sit facing the audience and can't even see anything on stage. These are just a few not-so-cool elements to being a musician for a musical, and yet GHC has such a faithful, talented group of people that really enjoy volunteering their time and skills to help create an incredible show each year! I am so thankful for them and I know the entire cast of 42nd Street agrees with me!!!

In my opinion, orchestra members are some of the most selfless people and yet they are one of the most vital elements of a musical production. The live music really is the glue that creates such a magical theater experience for the audience. Often times, the audience members don't even realize how much the orchestra has carried them away into the story being told on stage. Ah, musical theater... I just love it! Tonight's rehearsal is going to be so exciting. I can't wait to hear and watch this talented group of musicians do their thing!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

A Family that Performs Together Stays Together

Did I mention that my sister and dad are in 42nd Street as well? I just love doing theater with my family. Performing in the Grays Harbor spring musicals has become a bit of a Hadley tradition. The very first one I was ever a part of was a family experience. My older and younger sister plus my dad all auditioned and were cast in “Annie Warbucks” at GHC fifteen years ago. I have such fond memories of that first show. It was just a great musical – fun jazzy music, loveable characters, a funny and somewhat unrealistic plot, etc. But beyond the show itself, that experience was memorable because I shared it with my family. After that show, you could say we were hooked and the Hadleys have been a part of almost all the shows since then. Eventually, some of us left town to attend college out of state, but my younger sister and my dad have done a handful of musicals at Grays Harbor College in recent years. The spring musical is almost like a family reunion – it brings the whole family back to the harbor to watch Dad and Bekah perform.

Last year was extra special as my sister Bekah Simon, did a superb job as the spunky, loveable character of Millie Dillmount in “Thoroughly Modern Millie.” I was (and still am) so proud of her! I remember Bekah inviting me to a rehearsal and how I couldn’t stop crying the minute she started singing her opening solo song, “Not for the Life of Me.” What a beautiful, clear, soaring voice coming from that adorable red-head – my little sister!! I could totally tell she was having the time of her life up there singing, dancing, and acting – and doing so with TONS of personality and skill I might add. It was her performance in that show that really gave me the desire to perform again. It’s what got me thinking about auditioning for 42nd Street.

My dad is also an inspiration to me. He has always been one that really gets into the acting element of every character he is given. He enjoys working through the motivation behind every reaction, movement, and line he delivers regardless of how big or small his part is in the show. In observing his work ethic in these musicals throughout the years, I’ve learned a lot about the value of giving your all in whatever size role you have. I remember him telling me when I was in shows as a kid that, “though you may think you’re just a small chorus part, most likely there’s bound to be at least one person watching you at any given time.” That advice has stuck with me all these years and has motivated me countless times to stay in character and help contribute energy and quality acting to the scene of whatever show I’m in, even if I’m in the back row!

I’m thrilled and truly honored to be performing in 42nd Street with my very talented sister and dad. They have inspired and encouraged me – perhaps more than they know – to use and enjoy my God-given talents. Rehearsing with them has been tons of fun. The three of us even get to sing and dance side-by-side in one of the big chorus numbers!! (What were the directors thinking, right?!?!)

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Character Development

This has been a VERY busy week of rehearsals. All lines are supposed to be memorized from here on out!!! I realized I haven’t had to memorize a substantial chunk of dialogue for a show since high school. That wasn’t too long ago, but still when you’re out of practice it’s a terrifying feat to accomplish. Fortunately, I got this brilliant idea from my former roommate when she was preparing for a lead role in Portland, OR. She used her garage band program on her Mac book to record her voice saying everyone else’s lines with pauses in the dialogue to recite her own. I did the same thing and it’s been a life-saver! I made myself a CD so that I can practice in my car. (I wonder if people think I’m crazy when they see me doing this – hopefully they assume I’m talking on my blue tooth or something.) I’ve really enjoyed practicing this way for a number of reasons: I don’t have to bother someone to run lines with me, I can practice on my own time, and I’m not only learning my cue lines (the line that’s said right before my line or entrance), but I’m getting a feel for the whole scene and practicing Peggy’s reactions to everything else that’s happening. For the most part, I survived this first week of “off book” (or lines memorized) rehearsals. Phew!!!

Acting is crazy when you really think about it. I’ve been giving a lot of thought to this because I don’t consider myself much of an actor. I’m sure this insecurity simply comes from a lack of acting experience on my part. Anyway, acting is crazy because you’re constantly mixing concrete elements with personal instinct. Let me explain what I mean with an example from a rehearsal this week. The director told me to say my line then exit the stage only to be stopped by another actor’s line. These are concrete elements – lines and blocking. BUT the line that was supposed to interrupt my exit was delivered late! I had no choice but to abandon the blocking and go with my instinct, which was to follow through with the exit. It’s not what was supposed to happen, but without that line, Peggy had no reason to stop and stay on stage. Fortunately, it was just rehearsal and we quickly fixed that from happening again. It’s at times like these that I’m conflicted! I want to do what I’ve been directed to do, but when something unexpected happens (i.e. a line is dropped), instinctually I want to do something else. Then, it’s so easy to start doubting what my instincts are telling me to do (i.e. following through with the exit). Suddenly, my mind is racing with questions like, “Am I doing the right thing?” That’s the worst, because when I’m acting and reacting in the moment as Peggy Sawyer, I don’t have time to listen to Sarah Hadley’s negative talk or doubts! Allowing that to go on only shifts my focus onto myself as opposed to my character. See how crazy this whole “being in character” thing is??? It’s WAY harder than I ever thought prior to this experience!

Though this internal conflict arises from time to time, I’m learning so much! This week: following direction is important but at the end of the day, the honest portrayal of my character takes priority. I’m growing as an actor thanks to our director, Brad Duffy. He is extremely knowledgeable, so if you have a question about your character’s reactions, blocking, line deliver, etc. he’ll have an answer. However, what is so special and unique to Brad’s directing style is that he won’t necessarily give you the answer. He’d rather let you take some time to discover and determine the answer for yourself. If your decision still doesn’t work or isn’t believable, then Brad will step in and give some assistance. What’s great about this approach to directing is that it bolsters confidence in each performer and in turn, awards a sense of ownership and pride in one’s work as an actor. For example, there have been several times where I’ve wanted to say, “Can you just tell me what Peggy should think about that?” or “Can you just say that line the way you want Peggy to say it?” but instead, I’m given the freedom to try it a few different ways – experiment – and come to a decision that I believe is true to Peggy Sawyer.

About a year ago, I made a huge discovery that I try to strive for each day: Don’t be so concerned about the finished product. Instead, try to soak up the experience of the process even if it’s messy and imperfect sometimes. This is exactly what I have to remember as I continue to grow through this rehearsal process!