Last night we had our dress rehearsal for this year’s production of Glorious Christmas Nights (GCN). If you don’t know about GCN, you can read about it (and still get tickets for this year’s show) here. I been doing these shows since 2001 (with the exception of ’04), so I’ve been through several dress rehearsals. This year’s show touches a little on the horrors of war, and this rehearsal seemed an appropriate metaphor, with a lot of things blowing up. It was, well, less-than-satisfactory for a number of reasons. Lest you think I’m about to launch into some sort of criticism, I’m including myself in this list of failures (description in next paragraph). In this very ambitious production, we have a lot of complicated set/prop changes between scenes, and working out the logistics has been challenging. These changes are of the sort that when one tiny thing goes wrong, several others, in succession, have a tendency to follow. Chaos ensues. So, we had a little chaos on more than one occasion.
On a personal level, I had the worst case of missing a cue that I’ve ever experienced: I went to sleep at the switch, thinking I had one more song to get set on the turntable that would shuttle me into the next scene. I suddenly get this feeling of panic, and looking at the monitor in the back hall, I realize -to my horror- that the setting I was supposed to be in (to sing a solo, no less), was already center stage, and the orchestra was (as they should be) playing away. I missed a good 30 seconds of the song. I made one of those “oh crap, I missed my cue” remarks into an OPEN MIC (the tech folks had dutifully turned it on when they were supposed to – my son told me later that he heard it) and went running out on stage to “sneak in” to my spot. Ha! that’s a laugh – if you know me, you’ll know I’m a little large to be sneaking anywhere. Thankfully, the other players in the scene were mumbling the words, so I knew where to pick up with the song. Embarassing? Yes. You can bet I won’t miss that cue again.
The show’s producer, Bob Laughlin, and director, Kathy Craddock, called a meeting of the cast and crew immediately following the rehearsal to cover what went wrong, and what we were going to do to fix it. It was all very matter-of-fact and deliberate, and, amazingly – calm and collected. Everyone basically knew what went wrong (maybe not why, but we found out together). We went about the process of going over every set/prop change in the show to identify exactly what would be done, and by whom. It is gratifying to know that everyone involved understood the gravity of the situation, and stayed to make sure their part was going to be right for tonight. Maybe in another environment there would have been lots of blamestorming and finger-pointing, but not here – we (all 400 of us volunteers) understand that, while we are doing musical theater, there’s something a bit more important than just “putting on a good show”. We want to do that, too – put on a great show that conveys, at its core, the real message of Glorious Christmas Nights.