Time: October 21, 2011Place: Tri-Valley Repertory TheatreRole: Sketch/EnsembleDirector: Daren Corello
Hairspray was a fantastic production. The actors, the direction, the sets, the dances, the music. Everything just came together well to create something well worth the audience’s money. I’m very proud of how it all turned out.
I also wish I had passed on doing it.
Don’t get me wrong–it wasn’t a horrendous show to do or anything like that. The cast mates were great with some of the warmest, nicest people ever. But for me, each show comes with a price–time. And it’s hard to find time nowadays for hobbies and events, so the value and merit must always be examined.
Plus, with an ensemble role, it’s often a relief not to have the weight of so many scenes and songs. This is something overlooked by many. But in Hairspray, there are many ensembles songs to learn, and they are difficult to pick up for the first time. As usual, there are never enough rehearsals for music, and with so many vocal areas, you don’t get much time to work on your sections. Thus, homework is necessary. And I repeat: I mainly just had time for work and a little exercise back then.
HS also has many dances to learn. I don’t mind doing so, yet I know life is much simpler when NO dances are required. One can always improve lines (although I only had one), but dances must be spot-on.
An unexpected burden was a long commute for the show. This wasn’t anyone’s fault. It just happened to occur when the old rehearsal space became unavailable. So we were trekking off to Pleasant Hill every night. And after working all day, it wasn’t an added commute that I wanted to face. Luckily, we had carpools going up there. Otherwise, I certainly would not have been able to continue being involved in the show.
Adding to that, there was just too much stress and people tended to get all worked up over trivial things. There’s a difference between one being serious about creating a great product and one being high-strung over life’s trivial matters. And yes, I later learned that there were antecedents that better explained why things were that way. Still, those things have to be left at the door. Most of these shows don’t pay–thus, a good time is the only reward.
But wait! What about the good stuff? Well, there was plenty of that too, and some fun, memorable moments.
One note kept coming: “Hold back on the intensity of the game.” Yeah, right. That was just not going to happen. Even in pretend sports, I can’t stop competing. Now it was pretty much a game of Calvinball, with rules being absent and teams being ambiguous. While I never tried to allow a ball to fall into the orchestra pit, it just happened–repeatedly.
Mustaches and Cops
In one scene, we weren’t really facing the audience and we were cops, so…mustaches soon donned our faces. Thick, Superman glasses soon donned mine. And perhaps a tooth was blacked out once or twice. It was a fun scene to be a part of.
Final Cast Dinner
As usual, some of the best bonding time came at the end of the show. We had all met at PF Changs after the final night show and had some great talks.
One number was just ridiculously hard for me. There weren’t any really tough dance steps, but having to fumble with a spray can and ensure it’s facing the right direction was a pain. Adding to this, we were supposed to sing parts of the song. That number simply drove me crazy. And it was performed between the closed curtain and the pit. You had about three feet for two lines of dancer.
No one died, luckily.
To summarize, the show wasn’t a “waste of time.” I wouldn’t say that. Again, I got to work with terrific new people. Plus, the final product was terrific and the direction paid off well for the company. It’s just that my part was too similar to past roles to really offer any new territory to explore. In effect, it became a job…but I already had one during the day.