Mattress Diary: 3 Weeks Out

I should really say 2 weeks, 1 day out. Our first performance (a free preview for senior citizens) is Wednesday, April 27. That gives us two weeks and one day of potential rehearsals before we receive our first audience. And even that's not true. We have 13 rehearsals scheduled between today and our first audience. That's not a lot. It's especially not a lot since we had a week off thanks to spring break.

If you don't know, I work year round as a music director/jack of all design trades for various educational and summer theater programs. Right now, I'm in the end stages of a high school production of Once Upon a Mattress. Despite a member of the creative team actively working against the production (the orchestra director hates the score, the cast, the vocal music director (me), the transpositions (three girls are taking on roles typically written for men, and I spent over 50 hours transposing and rearranging their songs so they didn't just sing in unintelligible soprano range for 2.5 hours), and the orchestration), the process has gone very well. It's just tough when one part of the core creative team is so negative about the show.

We have your typical high school problems. When I last saw the theater, the set wasn't complete. No one has a finished costume yet. I can't work on the lights until the set is reinforced and the bottom support boards are actually cut free in entryways. Mics are part of a distant future. Who knows when the orchestra director will actually bring the student orchestra in? Props are going to be teched in for the first time today, and not all of them.

There are a lot of things I'm responsible for at this point and I'm glad to do them all. I love working with young people in theater and turning them onto my life's passion.

Here's a list of things I'm actively doing over the next three weeks to make sure the show goes off without a hitch:

  • Reteaching harmonies (because even professionals wouldn't retain every note of 4-6 part harmony after a 9 day break without rehearsal)
  • Reworking phrasing for the stage
  • Balancing vocals with pit
  • Setting tempos
  • Balancing mics over 30 person cast with full pit
  • Rehanging/rewiring a ton of traditional lighting fixtures above the stage (the set is a huge unit castle and it blocks off half the lights I typically use)
  • Focusing lights above the stage and in the house/catwalk (there's a lot of coverage done from the audience, the blessing and the curse of a huge proscenium stage)
  • Designing sound effects
  • Finishing hand props
  • Teaching students to program light board (or, barring that, doing the lighting design by myself if they just don't show up)
  • Setting up lobby display
  • Finishing headshots
  • Setting up student run concessions

There are more things, I'm sure. This is just the stuff I know I'm doing right now. More is always added on.

I figure, if I can't get my usual entertainment/media criticism writing done, I can chronicle how tech works at a high school.

Rehearsal starts in five and a half hours. I have to warm up (voice and hands), review all the act one harmonies (so I know where there are mistakes/balance issues), and show up early to see if I can get the genie lift onto the stage to move lights.

AniMAY 2016 Starts Sunday