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Friday, November 16, 2012

Bravi, WIDOW cast members!

Folks, I was so proud of you last night. The show had many wonderful moments comically, dramatically, and vocally. Your energy and professionalism were right where they should be. The scene change before Act 3 was seamless and timed out perfectly. A solid, successful premiere!

As always, there are things you can do to make the next performance even better. Your job is to take tomorrow night to the next level. Here are some thoughts:

Diction, diction, diction. There were folks in the audience who said they felt like they missed 60% of the jokes because they couldn't quite hear you or couldn't understand you. This is especially true in dialogue and sung solo lines. Project every word and overdo consonants, especially finals. This is not a new idea! Chorus, you're generally fine, but don't get lazy.

Everyone, really watch Les. There were a few moments when your fabulous energy was pushing the orchestra. Enjoy every moment, rather than rushing through it.

Remember to hit your marks: don't do anything new. You want to be predictable in terms of where you go and when, but absolutely fresh in terms of how you listen and react as if it's the first time. If I've told someone to do something specific because it's great, don't try to copy it: imitation on stage doesn't work. Be your unique selves with choices that are yours.

Solo folks, sing with your fullest sound and most active diction. The orchestra is still loud at times, and we need to hear you. Don't push, but please don't hold back: give 100% energy.

We'll allow for applause at moments where you seemed eager to go on, but the audience wanted to show its appreciation. Les will allow for applause after "Vilja," so watch for the chorus cue afterward. Njegus, please allow for applause after Camille and Valencienne go into the pavilion. There may be other places: be flexible, and we'll discuss tomorrow. This is a lovely problem to have, folks!

Ladies, please bring an extra pair of stockings. If yours tear, we can't have knee-highs on stage. Ladies of color, you can go without stockings. Remember to cross your legs at the ankles, not at the knees.

Gregg, slow down your dialogue and enunciate, especially in Act One. You're too good for us not to understand every word.

Njegus, speak EVERY line at the level of "well, perhaps initially..." (except the whispered line, of course). We don't want to miss one syllable, and now that I've heard you really project your text, I won't settle for less!

Jake, watch Les in the Act 2 finale during rant #2. You had the same problem as usual when under stress. Count and watch Les.

Men in "Girls," you stole the show! Bravi. Grisettes, you were great, but you can do the same thing if you step it up a notch. Keep the energy up and let each entrance top the previous one in terms of your energy. Remember to get your faces out! See if you can match the height of your leg kicks in the kickline. Try not to stomp when you get energetic (you know who you are).

In general, the cast as a whole was too far upstage, and this was more apparent last night than in rehearsal. I was sitting in the balcony in the final dress as well as last night, and saw many more empty pools of light downstage last night. It seemed like you were unconsciously hiding from the audience! Remember to fill in all the spaces of the stage, including downstage. This is especially important if you have solo lines in big group scenes: Les is doing his best to hold down the volume of the orchestra, but the further upstage you go, the more your sound disappears. Get downstage so your voices can get out into the house.

More joy at the close of Act 3! I've given Han and Dan permission for one more kiss at the end: everyone else, really congratulate them, celebrate your own reconciled marriage, etc. The stage should be full of all sorts of fireworks.

Zeta, Val, and Camille, take time in bows. Men, each of you bow separately, trying to one-up each other. Then both of you remember to gesture for Val's bow simultaneously, let her bow, then do the bit with her choosing Zeta.

Rest up tonight. Know that I love each and every one of you madly, and am wildly proud of how far you've come.

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