It’s Opening Night

We did open, but, in actuality it was more like a final dress rehearsal with a pretty big audience. Where to begin?

I spent the hour before the show in the lobby greeting audience members at the West entrance. I like doing that. Julie calls the people that come in that door my “fan base” as many of them ask me if I’m going to be in the show and pretend to moan and groan when I tell them I’m not. It’s fun seeing them.

Sometimes I think we don’t need ushers as most of our audience members that come during the first two weekends have been coming to the Guild for years and sitting in the same seats for every performance. I know. We have the ushers there to pass out the programs and help people who don’t come on a regular basis.

Mike Mayne was on hand to handle the “will call” tickets. That really helps move people out of the lobby and into the theatre.

Stage Manager Dave Wood did a great thing. He went through the lobby saying, “Five minutes to curtain, please take your seats.” Then, a bit latter, “Curtain in two minutes, please be seated.” This helps clear out the lobby as we tend to get little groups of people chatting away out there.

The show started on time. Chris Boudreau did the pre-show announcement “live” and we were off and running.

A lot of the show was very, very good. As usual, we got  laughs where we didn’t expect them. I encourage actors to “listen to the audience.” As my theatre mentor used to say, “Let them laugh if they want to laugh. If you don’t let them laugh, they’ll stop laughing.”

There were other places where we expected laughs but didn’t get them. When that happens I urge the actors to “mess with the line.” “If you think it’s funny, work it until you get the laugh.”

There were some missed cues and we screwed up the scene sequence at one point. But, the actors recovered and got us back on track. We also seemed to have some difficulty with set changes. It may have been because we were short of people backstage. We’ll work on it.

Like many of the shows at the Guild, A Little Night Music is visually beautiful. Jen Maiseloff’s set design with the large pieces and the moving birch trees is very pretty.

The acoustics in the Guild are strange. People in the back of the house seemed to be able to hear everything. Some people in the front row complained about not being able to hear when the orchestra was playing. Others in the front row said they heard everything.

From time to time, there has been talk of adding an orchestra pit. It was on our “to do” list for the summer, but we scrapped it thinking that the renovation of the house and the leveling of the clubroom floor would be about all we could accomplish in a summer. We know we need to fix the sound issue.

On the other hand, some of the actors really know how to project and we heard everything they said. My mentor used to say, “Play to the back row.” Some of our people need to do more of that.

All in all, it was a good show. It’s nice to get through that first one. You get some notion of the way the audience is going to react and where you need to pick up or slow down the pace.

Ah, well. Community theatre.

Eleven more chances to get it right.