Now that the summer musical is almost over for the year, I thought I’d jot down some thoughts after my 8th year of being in the show. These are probably somewhat specific to children’s theatre.
– The funniest part of rehearsals (to me) is when everyone is trying to go off-book but they haven’t quite learned their lines yet, so you end up with two people looking at each other waiting for the other one to say something. Hilarity!
– This year we did 3 weekends of shows for a total of 17 performances, but when you throw in dress rehearsal and full runthroughs we did the show probably 25 times. Doing the same thing 25 times (admittedly, over a period of weeks) is…strange. The first few times doing it in the theater it’s new and exciting. After that, it’s fun to dance around goofily backstage and before the show starts. After that I start to go a little crazy.
– The autograph line after the show used to be my least favorite part of the whole thing. Now, I kinda enjoy it! The key to remember: they’re more scared of you than you are of them.
– Performing the show is really tiring. First of all, if you’ve never been on a stage with the lights on: it’s hot up there! I start sweating after a few minutes even if I’m not moving at all. For children’s shows you need a lot of movement (and pratfalls; pratfalls are great!) to keep the kids interested, so it’s definitely physically tiring. But it’s also mentally tiring. Not only do you have to remember where to go and what to say and choreography (although after 10 or so shows this becomes pretty ingrained), but you also need to be aware of what’s going on around you and be ready to react in case something unexpected happens. This happens about once a show, although usually it’s pretty minor. This year’s show is unusual because although I have very few lines, I’m on stage for like 70% of the show, so a lot of what I do is react to what’s going on around me. Over the last 20 performances I’ve built up some go-to things to do at certain times, but that’s still a lot of time to fill.
– Doing the same comedy bits 25 times gets to be mind-numbing. There’s a very strong temptation to change things up – add a new joke or do something differently, because the people around you will actually find it funny. And for background stuff, this is usually fine, but generally speaking the first joke is probably funnier to the audience (who, it’s important to remember, hasn’t seen the show before!)
– The lights lighting the stage are bright, so that when I stand at the front of the stage I can barely make out bodies in the audience. If I’m further back (or backstage) I can recognize people pretty decently though. I try not to do this because it’s distracting, although I usually can’t help myself if I know a friend is going to be there.
– Yes, taking pictures with a flash is extremely distracting! (and yes, it happens) I dunno, maybe I should be less distractable but that’s the way it is. Also distracting: noise from the audience.
Ed: here are some more thoughts!