Wednesday, June 17, 2009

shameless plug... i hear this helps your site be visible in google and yahoo searches.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

So here it is... in ranked order, my list of what makes being in a show enjoyable. Because I'm sure you're all dying to know my thoughts on the matter. My order for this here list has changed considerably from what it was, based on the two shows I'm currently in. If you're like me and you read into things (or I've been telling you stories about rehearsals) I'm sure you will be able to figure out what aspects of my current show experiences are beyond amazing, or on the other side, horrendous based on how these here ranks have changed. (That is, if the topic hasn't bored you enough that you already stopped reading...) In some cases I'll just say how these shows affected my opinion flat out. Eliminate the speculation. Speculation leads to misconception which leads to rumors... because I'm sure everyone will be gossiping about this stimulating blog of mine. I am, however, brutally frank. Just getting that out there. Warning.

I'll start with #1 in importance (previously #4) if only because I hate the suspense associated with "countdowns"... start with the good stuff- it eliminates reading in reverse. So, numero uno in determining how happy I am doing a particular show is the director. If you have an awesome director things run smoothly, and you are inspired slash in awe of their creativity, perception, visions etc. Their energy and personality sets the tone for rehearsals. I've always thought this. I've had a couple of great directors and I tend to follow them around, show-to-show, like a groupie. On the other hand, an awful director can destroy a wonderfully written show with a super talented cast. Worse than that, at least from a performer's perspective, they can completely ruin the overall mood of the cast and enjoyability of rehearsals... causing a rise of frustration that eventually leads to anger/disappointment outside of rehearsal. Just as I've had some brilliant directors I've had some horrendous ones, and they can completely ruin the experience. Whenever I have an awful director my first reaction is usually "I want to quit" and my later reaction "I want to take over". But I've never quit and I've never taken over, so no worries there. There's my praising and venting.

#2 (previously #3) = Cast. Though this may seem straight-forward, "The Cast", in its high ranking number 2 spot, encompasses a lot of things. First off, they have to be talented, because if they're not you will feel embarassed to be on stage with them. Let's be real, we all think it. If you have an untalented set of people, forget it... you ultimately want every show you're in to be the best it can be and it's AWESOME to work with a cast full of talent. But then there's also part of you that doesn't want them to be too talented. If there's too much talent you are overshadowed. And if there's a severe excess of talent you can be intimidated (I have to sing and dance in front of them?!?!? What will they think of me?). So there has to be that balance between "how could they not currently be starring in their 32nd Broadway show?" and "never open your mouth or attempt to dance again, even in the privacy of your own home because then your own pets may disown you". A great or awful cast, talent-wise, can certainly affect your level of rehearsal and performance satisfaction. What I'm primarily referring to here though doesn't really depend on talent. It's more basic: are they good people to be around? A nice cast, with energy, some humor, and good work-ethic can make the experience 817 times more enjoyable. And of course the reverse holds too... if it's cliquey and full of complainers you end up begging for the show to start so you can skip right to the performance aspect and avoid the rehearsals.

#3 (previously #1) is your part in the show. Not necessarily whether you're the lead or not, but how featured you are in whatever you are doing. Let's face it, everyone wants the best parts. And about 98% of actors think they deserve the best parts. I buy right into the stereotypes. You end up counting your lines, determining who is downstage center the most in the group numbers, decide upon your "rank" in the show in terms of size of the role, decide upon your "rank" in the show in terms of talent, decide upon your "rank" in the show in terms of audience likeability, and the list goes on. You can't help but feel a bit of pride when you realize your part is better than so-and-so's. And you probably won't be too happy if you get zero-stage time. The old saying "no part is a small part" or whatever it is... it's a lie to 95% of the performing community. It's an aspect of being a performer. We all want to be featured and we all get upset when we're not featured to the level "we deserve". It's a narcissism thing. I'm not ashamed to admit it. And I know you're nodding to yourself in acknowledgement.

#4 (previously #5... aka didn't change much) is the choreographer. Now this isn't just because I'm a dance person. I feel like the choreographer has a HUGE role in the level of satisfaction you have doing a show. First off, it's usually a majority of the cast who considers dancing their weakest point... the choreographer has to be encouraging, helpful, and make the steps at an appropriate level yet exciting for the audience to see without "dumbing-them-down". They also have to work with a wide variety of levels. I feel like the dance aspect of the show is where the cast is most likely to get frustrated. The choreographer is the primary person who sets the mood at these rehearsals. There's a way to make it fun and enjoyable. I've seen a bunch of choreographers get frustrated with the cast for "not getting it" and just as many make the steps easier as they decide it's "too complicated". Only the best are able to inspire the cast to work at it while convincing them that they will get it. A choreographer who isn't just good at making up the steps, but who can also lead the dance rehearsals and gain the like and respect of the cast makes a world of difference.

#5 (previously #6) is the costumes/makeup. This one is simple. Who doesn't love getting dressed up? Who doesn't love finally "looking the part" once the performance time hits? Great costumes and makeup can make the show so much more exciting to the performer in the great costumes and makeup and really boost confidence as well.

#6 (previously #2... can we say giant leap?) is how much you like the actual show you are performing in. I used to think this was key. Be in a show you love. If you connect to the story and the music you will enjoy the experience that much more. While I do think it can help, the satisfaction from rehearsals and the overall experience do not rely on this at all. I've been in shows where I've HATED the plot, songs, characters, dialogue... the whole bit, and yet I've LOVED the experience. Same goes in the reverse. I've been super excited to do certain shows I essentially had memorized before joining a cast, including knowing bizarre random facts about, oh I don't know, how the original assistant lighting designer came to be part of the show, and yet I've really not enjoyed the rehearsal experience at all. Surprisingly, how much you like the show itself makes little to no difference in satisfaction with the experience.

#7 (has always been #7) is the musical director. I get their importance and all and yes, it would be lame to have one who was really mean or did absolutely nothing, but I've never done a show where they've had a profound meaning or purpose to me personally. I take the score home, plunk out the alto notes, learn them, go into rehearsal and sing them. Simple as that. Musical directors make a huge difference in terms of the vocal performance level of shows, don't get me wrong. They just don't really effect how much I enjoy a show or not.

So that's my list. I should probably mention that the crew also falls into the cast bit in #2... both in the talent aspect and the likeability aspect... though I feel no competiton from them, they should know what they're doing. And with that, I'm off to rehearsal.