Story of a week: Jane Eyre, Dutch Apple, Church

Colonel and Mrs Dent, with kids

Quite possibly my favorite photo from Jane Eyre

If I’m remembering right, it’s been about two weeks since I last posted. I have a very good excuse, or multiple excuses, because last week was so very busy. Short story? I was in a musical, I had an audition, and I had to worry about playing in church Sunday morning. Stay tuned for the long story…

Ok, long story, starting with the musical. This last week, starting Monday, was the final tech and performance week for CLCHM’s Jane Eyre. What a crazy, stressful, wonderful week that was. It’s hard to remember everything that went on in that time, but there are so many good stories! Spending hours every day with a group of your closest friends, putting on a play, is sure to make for a good time.

The highlight of Monday was getting makeup done for the first time. This was definitely an interesting experience. Being the typical procrastinator that I am, I didn’t go get the required makeup until a half hour before call time. But the basic stuff was boring, where it got interesting was when we got to making me look older. Our director, apparently very familiar with older characters, applied the wrinkles himself. My hair was grayed with white paint (which, most days, wasn’t too bad; one of the days I had so much paint in my hair, it was basically plastic). The biggest hassle of Monday and Tuesday was my mustache.

Originally, our costume mistress had decided that I would get a mustache. My first thought, naturally, was “Oh, cool!” Trust me, after it got glued on and I wore it for a while, I got sick of it. When I showed up and put it on Tuesday, it was decided that it didn’t look very good, so we trimmed it down before figuring out that it wasn’t going to work. So, I ripped it off, got the glue off my lip, and reapplied makeup before someone came up to me with a different mustache to try on. I tried it on, we decided it might work, but because my lip was already a little raw from ripping off the other mustache, it started burning. That’s about when we decided to scrap the whole mustache idea. Can’t say I regretted that too much, actually.

This next thing I’m going to bring up requires just a bit of setup. As you know by now, I’m very much a piano player, with some experience accompanying. For the show, I had helped my friend who played Rochester learn a few of his songs, and I had even sight read the accompaniment for one rehearsal when our music director was out due to an injury. I really enjoyed those experiences, and I wish I had had a chance to play in the pit orchestra, or accompanied more during rehearsals. And then, the Saturday before tech week, during rehearsal, our music director came up to me and said that she hadn’t realized it, but much of what was in the piano score wasn’t in the orchestration, so she needed a piano player for the pit. Unfortunately, she knew she couldn’t ask me to learn the entire show on piano in two days, as much as I was tempted to try just that, so she hired a piano player who could sight read it. And of course, he did a fantastic job. I’m sorry I never got the chance to meet him.

But, Tuesday night, after rehearsal, our music director came to me and told me that the pianist she’d hired wasn’t able to make it to the dress rehearsal on Thursday afternoon, which we were performing for an audience of nursing home residents. She asked if I would play piano for the second act, since I was mostly just in the first act, and it was more important that she direct and not have to worry about playing piano too. I said yes, of course, gladly, and spent some time studying it, and a whole piano lesson working on it the next day. But by Wednesday night after rehearsal, I honestly started freaking out about it. I began thinking about everything that could go wrong, because I had only looked at this music for about a day, and I would be playing it in a performance with no chance to rehearse with the orchestra beforehand. It scared me.

How did it go? Well, when it came down to it, I pushed the nerves aside, and just focused on the music. I played the best I could, followed the director, even got my hand slapped when I played some wrong notes (true story). No, it wasn’t perfect; yes, it could have gone better. But I’m pleased with how it went, and others said it was great, so they obviously didn’t notice how much I had to leave out. The important thing was that the director was free to conduct, and we stayed together more because of it. My favorite part was when I went up to the dressing room after the show and got a round of applause from the guys. That definitely made my day. But having to play may have been the most stressful thing of the week.

I also managed to lose my pants on Wednesday, not because I misplaced them, but because our costume mistress told my friend who played Rochester to take them from me, because she didn’t like the pants he had. I gave them over, albeit reluctantly, because those pants had been worn by a party guest in the Fulton’s The Sound of Music. I was very disappointed to have to give them up, but of course I got over it quickly. Unfortunately, that meant I had to perform a run through in jeans, until I got a new pair of pants. That was a funny picture. Unfortunately, when the new pants arrived, they were a size too small for me, so by the end of Wednesday, a day before we opened, I didn’t have any pants. Thankfully, I did get some the next day, in time for opening night. Not the most successful week, you might say. But at least it was exciting.

Continuing in the vein of exciting things that happened during the show, I had another two stories to share. I’ll start with the happier story. During the matinée show on Saturday, one of our servants (servant here meaning glorified stage crew, responsible for scene changes) had to leave because her grandfather had to be taken to the hospital. Yes, this is the happier story, just sit tight. Before the end of that show, the costume mistress approached me, and said that because we weren’t sure if the servant would be coming back, we needed someone to fill her role. She had immediately thought of me, and asked me if I would want to wear her costume for one or two scene changes and help with a scene change. Her costume was a skirt, apron, and bonnet. Apparently, with a reputation of playing a nun in professional theater, people will come to you and ask you to do things like this.

I didn’t say yes right away, because I wasn’t really sure if I wanted to dress up like a girl during the show my parents and grandparents had come to see. But that was quickly overridden by the fact of how awesome and fun it would be, and I agreed. Fortunately, the servant returned before the second show (fortunately, because her grandfather was fine, unfortunately, because now I didn’t get her part), but our costume mistress decided that I should still do it, just because. So we found someone who agreed to give me her costume so I could go out in a blackout to change the set. And it would have gone off perfectly, except someone forgot to move the vase of flowers off the table I was supposed to help move, and some else had started rotating the steps before we got off stage, so we ended up carrying the table the long way off the stage, with a vase on top. One bump, and the vase fell over, loudly, and spilled the marbles that were inside onto the floor. This was not a happy moment. Luckily, we were right on the edge of the stage, so the marbles didn’t interfere with the play. Regardless, that was incredibly fun, and totally worth it.

On a sadder note, I really felt bad for one of the girls in the play. Out of the blue, she gets really sick on Wednesday, and misses about three days of rehearsals and performances. She was out for Wednesday’s rehearsal, Thursday’s performances, and Friday’s performance, though she did show up Friday, even though she couldn’t perform. She was feeling better by Saturday, and was able to make it all the through the afternoon performance, but during the middle of the schoolgirl scene in the evening show she ran offstage with a terrible nosebleed. She had to sit the rest of the show out, and went home with a fever of 104. I felt bad for her, because I knew how much I would hate to miss any performances, especially with such a short run, and I believe this was her second show. Thankfully, she felt well enough to show up to the cast party, and she’s fine now, as far as I know. It just worried me, and added a little more stress to the week.

But Jane Eyre was not the only thing happening last week. I also had to worry about my audition at the Dutch Apple Dinner Theater, a local professional theater that’s actually conveniently right down the street from my house. Also very conveniently, many of the managers will come into Giant, where I work, to buy lunch, so I’m already fairly familiar with them. I was able to set up my initial audition time the first time I met the associate producer when she came in for lunch at Giant. And when I learned that we had a show the day of the audition, I was able to move it to an earlier slot the next time I saw her there. Unfortunately, the call time ended up being earlier than I thought it would be, and I had to call her on Tuesday of tech week. Saturday’s schedule ended up being an audition at 10 in the morning, with a call time for Jane Eyre at 12:15 and two shows.

My friends can tell you, I was stressing out a lot about this audition. I didn’t feel very prepared for it, as I had touched on technique with my voice teacher the week before, but had done very little character work until the day before my audition. I had a few friends over to help me figure out what to do, but by the time we headed out to the show that night I was still very frustrated by my lack of preparation. But I’m very grateful for my friends, who gave me some much needed pep talks and advice, and by the time I woke up Saturday morning, I was resolved to be confident, and to go in there and give it whatever I’d got.

And that’s what I did. I went in there, stayed at ease, even made them laugh a little, and performed my piece, being sure to say “Thank you” afterwards. I felt really good about it, and the others who were auditioning at the same time said I did well. I was one of three from the group who were asked to stay for dance callbacks the same day, but unfortunately, I had to get to my show, so I couldn’t stay. It’s been almost a week now, and I’m still hoping they’ll call me back. Whatever happens, I’m happy with it. If I get a part, I will definitely be posting it on here.

So, with the stress of the show, and the stress of playing piano in the pit, and the stress of an audition, I’d say that was pretty much enough for a single week to hold. Unfortunately, on top of all that, I was emailed by someone at First Presbyterian, where I have a job as an accompanist for their youth and children’s choir, and reminded that they would be singing in the service on Sunday. They had only had a chance to rehearse the song once, so it was important that I know the song well. But with the bustle of Jane Eyre, I hadn’t had a chance to look at it. So Saturday night, after both shows, instead of staying to help tear down, I went home and stayed up late making sure that I knew the song.

As luck would have it, that was also the night the clocks jumped ahead an hour, and all-in-all I ended up with about five hours of sleep that night. But I woke up in time, and made it to the church, and I knew the song well enough to perform. With that, the rehearsal and the services went very well. I’m very pleased with how they turned out.

Once that was over, it was off home for an hour and a half of sleep, before heading to the week’s conclusion: the Jane Eyre cast party. The party was super fun. We presented our gifts to the directors and other important people, and just hung out for a while, before watching through a recording of our show. It was great to finally see how everything came together onstage, and I loved it! We had such a great show.

The end of the cast party also marked the end of my last show with CLCHM. I’m very sad that I won’t have a chance to act with this group again, as I’m never going to get another cast quite like this one. But all great things must come to an end, and this was no exception. Without a doubt, I’ll miss it very much. But at least it isn’t the last time I’ll see these people, because all of them are in choir and orchestra, too, and we still have concerts coming up, including two today, one on Monday, and our main one on Friday. But that’s another story, for another time.

So, last week was very, very busy. But it was also amazing, and while I felt as if everything ended up happening in one week, I’m glad things worked out the way they did.

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