Theatre

Carousel

Time: August 20, 2001
Place: Diablo Light Opera Company
Role: Carnival Boy
Director: Sue Ellen Nelsen
My Reflections

Around 30-40 people. I’m not going to list them all. Perhaps if the cast had been smaller by about 20-30 people, I might have taken the time. But there’s too many names. Which means there’s too much potential that I’ll misspell someone’s name and they’ll send me hate mail and never come to my Christmas party again.

It’s just too risky. If you want the cast list…hmmm, I really have no idea where or how to get it. Anyway, you’d probably have to get a hold of a program. And you can’t have mine. I need it to remind myself of just what the heck I was thinking agreeing to a 20 show run!

When people ask me what I think of Carousel, I have to tell them it’s pretty long and slow at times. * Though, I do think it’s a great show. And I’m not against long shows; if a show is captivating, I could sit for hours. Er, well, I guess we already do sit for hours. What I mean is that I could sit for 3-4 hours, or longer.

Carousel is interesting, though I’m not sure it’s ‘captivating’. However, I’ve never seen it from the audience. I’ve only performed in it. So, my opinion may be different from the house’s point of view. Though, after talking to many people who saw Carousel, I think my view holds true for many.

Still, there are many things I do like about the show – at least the run we did. The sets were quite amazing and very detailed. Big sets are a must with older shows. Come to think of it, I find big sets to be important for any show. Yeah, some would say it’s the story and music that count and when those two are strong, there’s no need, etc. etc. etc.. But nope. Just doesn’t cut it. For my money, I want a good story, great music AND good sets. I really don’t think it’s asking too much. I mean the local movie theater has movies with big sets in them. And they only charge .50. I don’t expect a community theatre to bring in a full length ocean liner to represent the Titanic. But on the other hand, using a small 6 foot dingy tugs a little too hard on my ‘stretch of imagination’. But Carousel had good sets, so enough of this meaningless paragraph.

I was called to audition for Carousel when they didn’t have enough male dancers during the initial auditions. "Why not?", I figured. It couldn’t be too hard. So, I journeyed on over to the rehearsal hall and joined their callbacks. Wasn’t too bad. A few lifts here and there and a couple of paddle turns there. Now, I’m no fan of paddle turns. It’s something I’ve never done very well. I find it quite ironic. The girl seems to spin fine without a guy behind her, but then the guy steps in and her spins suddenly get halved, or destroyed in my case. It’s just not something I do well. But for various reasons, it’s not on my ‘big list of lifelong goals’. So I don’t fret about it much.

They ended up casting me as their ‘Carnival Boy’ and I ended up taking the part. Then came the rehearsals. I wouldn’t say that the choreographer was sadistic, but some of the lifts for the Pas seemed to come from I don’t know where. I believe that he created the moves in his head where little issues don’t apply –like gravity and physics. Then he brought them to rehearsal where it was up to us to figure out how to bring them into reality. But lo and behold, everything did seem to work. The crazy part was that if we practiced a lift and it finally worked – the next week he’d come in with a harder lift. I found that a tiny bit odd.

It reminded me of a story from Calvin and Hobbes. Calvin asked his father how they determined the weight limit for bridges. His dad explained that they drive heavier and heavier trucks across the bridge until it collapses. Then the just rebuild the bridge, and post a sign. I figured that once a lift destroyed my upper torso, we’d have figured out the right lifts for the job. The tricky part was rebuilding my upper torso.

Seriously, the lifts weren’t too bad. They just made me nervous and caused a small amount of anxiety and sleep deprivation. But they were challenging enough to give me a goal for the summer. I find that some dancing only requires remembering which moves come next, and other dancing requires the person to physically be able to complete the dance without having a stroke. Fortunately, my partner worked hard and we managed to finish the run with no permanent physical injuries. The emotional scars can be dealt with through therapy sessions over the next few years.

I’d say the show was worth doing. The Hoffman theatre is quite large and looks entirely different when performing there. It’s really a nice place to perform. Our run went rather smoothly with only a few small glitches here and there. I never like to see people miss their cues, although it’s rather entertaining when they do. I guess it’s fun to watch how people then have to use their true improv and acting skills to get out of a jam. Sometimes characters become truer when they aren’t chained to scripts. A few times we even had substitute dancers for a some dance numbers. That adds its own challenge. You think you’re doing everything just fine, but in the corner of your eye, you see someone else going a whole different direction when you’re used to being altogether. Yeah, that’ll test you a bit. If anything, it gets your mind racing and yourself to thinking "Hmmm…am I doing this right? I don’t remember anyone falling into the orchestra pit being part of the dance. Should I jump too?"

Looking back, I think my favorite part of the show during rehearsals was probably the cast reaction right after we went through the Pas with them for the first time. I think it was because it was a reassurance that people were going to enjoy the 10 minute dance that we were going to sweat through every night.

My favorite part of performing was when the final lift had reached its peak during the Pas. From then on out, the rest of the show was easy street. Alas, there was only 10 minutes left in the show at that point, but still.

The most memorable thing would have to be opening night, when my dance partner’s hair got caught in my shirt cuff button. That’s one of those moments that speeds up the pulse a few dozen beats. But as I say, there’s nothing like some improv to liven up a show. It was a hair-rasing moment, but we got out of it.

Ah, live theatre.

Next: Come and meet…yeah for a third time

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