Mon. Nov 16th, 2015
We started the day with rehearsal for Media Day for Jason Robert Brown, our composer, who'll be conducting in Des Moines, Los Angeles and D.C. Then we rehearsed some Act 1 scenes before running Act 1 for the first time in a week. I was grateful for my paperwork being in such good shape.
Tue. Nov 17th, 2015
We did some scene work top of day, and I knew instinctively somehow she'd want to work the "family returns" scene. It was a big day, our designer run through - and it went went smoothly. We had 25 people attending: designers, producers, etc. Our road trunks and road boxes were packed up into the trucks to head out to Des Moines and it all got very real.
Wed. Nov 18th, 2015
Wednesday was Media Day. We got there at the same time as a rehearsal day so that we had a full hour to set up.
In the largest studio, Studio A, we arranged chairs for the cast in a semi circle. To the right of the semi circle we put the piano, chairs for the guitarist and downstage of the guitar was a stool and music stand for Jason Robert Brown.
In our second largest studio we created little groupings of chairs for the networks to interview our principals afterwards.
It was mostly a day of hurry up and wait.
Thrs. Nov 19th, 2015
Our final day at New 42 studios. I woke up with unbearable, almost crippling , back spasms, but somehow pulled myself onto the train and to work - despite the train's jarring starts and stops causing me to gasp in pain. I trained our PA, Carolyn, on my track for our room run. Thankfully we would only be using the most basic rehearsal furniture pieces, without hand props. I took line notes and did our phone cues. After sitting down all day, the pain was more bearable.
Fri. Nov 20th, 2015
Friday was our travel day to Des Moines. I had ordered a car service that wouldn't be too much more than the $40 that I would be reimbursed, but it never showed! So I ended up spending twice that on a last minute car, then had to spend even more to check baggage! I met up with our PA at our gate, only to have the gate changed moments later. I guess the peace that comes with the neutral territory of an airport infected me, and I help a lady in a wheelchair.
Our flight to Chicago was painless, but we had to run to the gate for our next flight, and only just made it for last call. So we had no time to eat lunch. In hindsight, it was for the best as snow forced us to abandon our landing and pull back up at the last minute - making me very queasy.
Upon arriving at the hotel, we immediately devoured a couple of burgers, then went to a nearby bottle shop/dry goods store called The Pantry to stock up on snacks and food for the first couple of tech days.
Sat. Nov 21, 2015
We got to the Civic Center at 8am and immediately got to work, posting directional arrows, dressing room signs, paperwork on the call-board, printing wallet cards, and meeting the local IATSE crew members. Starting at 9:30am, we dry teched up to page 22, setting spikes for furniture and light walking. This is what our director Tyne likes to call "preheating"; or getting a head start on something.
I was also reacquainted with an old stage crew friend from Santa Fe Opera, Shawn, who it turns out will be our Head Flymen for the tour!
Sun. Nov 22, 2015
Sunday was our first day of tech with the actors. Some scenic pieces such as the screen door and the sink were not entirely actor friendly. Troubleshooting these pieces with the actors took a lot of energy, as I wanted to find a balance between getting the items onstage for lights/transitions and assuaging the actors anxieties about safety and straining muscles.
I also discovered to my dismay that one of my two local Props was slow was molasses and would require a lot of extra attention. He was never prepared with a pen, or highlighter. He didn't have a flashlight or head lamp to read by. If I tried to get them prepped for the next shift, "Okay - so coming up you're going to do x, y, z" resulted in 20 questions. A very trying experience, especially when things moved fast, but a challenge that taught me a great deal.
It was tricky for the actors and I to adjust to having IATSE stagehands after doing everything ourself. It's very time consuming having to ask someone else to come move a prop or scenic item when you're spiking, and especially frustrating when you're standing right next to it and the person you want to move it is slow as molasses! There are a lot of gray areas, and it's easy to forget to ask for help from Locals, especially when the show involves actors moving scenic pieces on and off stage.
My back was very painful this day, and I wore Icy Hot patches on it all day. I resorted to a hot shower for 15 minutes, with 5 minutes of cold, and some stretches in an effort to relax the contracted muscle.
Mon. Nov 23, 2015
We were in at 8:30am for dry teching lights. Lunch was catered for us by the Director of Production at the Civic Center, which was delicious and launched the day off on a positive note. We continued tech for Act 1, which was going well until we got to the biggest transition sequence for Stage Right in that act:
1. Actor exiting with fence (R2) while bringing on a wall unit with actor riding (R1) [2 carps] and sink (R2) [props];
2. Pushing off wall until (R1); run around to preset sink in R2; while leading lady quick changes
3. Actor pushes off sink (R1) while 2 carps push on the bathtub with leading lady riding riding (R2) and actor enters with mirror in (R1).
I hadn't mentally moved past the first part of the transition which only involved striking the bridge fences and bringing on the planked wall. So I hadn't adequately planned ahead for that much scenic and actor traffic. It was a bit chaotic, but it taught me to put my faith wholly in the Assistant Carpenter that I had on my wing, Tim and trust that he could manage the scenic elements while I supervised properties and actor safety.
We set a lot of spikes that day and differentiated them with 1, 2 or 3 glow dots, glow squares, and glow triangles.
Tue. Nov 24, 2015
Was able to sleep in somewhat as we didn't dry tech in the morning. Our call was 11 for actors to arrive at noon, but I got in at 10am in order to do another update on my running paperwork. We started with a two hour quick change rehearsal for "When I'm Gone" the hardest montage of scenes (Caitlyn's Wedding/Michaels Graduation/Bud's Funeral) which each involves a different costume look. Then we moved on to Act 2 and it was mostly a good day. My back didn't hurt and the time flew by because we hadn't had tech-ed much at all that morning.
Wed. Nov 25, 2015
Our last day of tech before Thanksgiving. We were under a lot of pressure to finish Act Two and tensions were definitely running high. However, we did manage to accomplish our goal. Here's a photo of the final moment of the show from the Stage Manager's calling station on Stage Right.