A Tight Ship: The Journey of Opening Night

Gary Stoner 2

(c) George Riddell, http://www.myworldmyeyes.co.uk

Opening Night: these two words strike excitement, anticipation and a little nerves into every soul whom are part of transforming a play from words on a script to full flesh & blood (quite literally in this sense) on the stage.

After a busy day of tweaking the technical elements & doing dress rehearsals of the show the day before, the designers & stage management gather together in a cafe, just a few doors down from the theatre on the morn of ‘Othello’ opening night, much needed coffee in hand, to discuss the technical notes from the dress rehearsals. Max Lewendel, the Artistic Director & Producer of ‘Othello’ leads the meeting, while the ever watchful Meg Jones, Production Manager keeps the meeting at a steady pace.

Time is a premium on this day, so the team moves swiftly onto the theatre to apply the technical notes and fixes whilst the cast, already eagerly in the theatre Green Room, talk with the Director, AD & Musical Director on key notes on the performance aspects. Rehearsal is done, but these final notes are vital to adding last finishing touches to weeks of rehearsals.

It’s now well into the afternoon after some much needed lunch to keep everyone’s energy up. The team from the office have now arrived, &  #EduKate (our Education Manager) has brought her delicious red velvet cake for the occasion. It’s quickly on with the day to musical rehearsal with Ron McAllister, which takes place on stage, where there’s some fine-tuning of the musical pieces & tempo fixes to make tonight’s and future performances pitch perfect.

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Musical Rehearsal with Musical Director Ron McAllister & Director/Producer Max Lewendel

Its now 5pm on Opening Night, with only two hours until the house is open, AD Eirik Bar leads fight call where he ensures the fights are 100% rehearsed and most importantly safe, ensuring blocking is spot on so the actors fall & move in all the right places. The fight choreography, devised by our wonderful resident associate fight director Ronin Traynor, is a well crafted powerful & emotive dance but one foot or arm in the wrong position & the visual spectacle is slightly agar.

As well as fight call before every performance, the cast warm up their vocal chords. At Icarus, we have a vocal coach (Emma Vane) who works with the actors from early rehearsals to opening night. Vocal cords are like any muscle and can be strained with use and in theatre’s such as The King’s Theatre in Southsea with a 1180 seat auditorium, the emotive visceral language in ‘Othello’ voices need to be in top condition so that audience members can hear each poetic & wonderful word of Shakespeare’s language from our cast from stalls to circle seat.

With last minute ‘break a leg’ well wishes & cards & flowers delivered to the team, the audience takes to their seats, along with the director, waiting patiently for months of work to be performed in less than 2 hours…

And what a great night it was with ‘whoops’ & cheers from the audience & with great comments from the stalls, the cast are called for not the one but two curtain calls & a sense of relief from the designers watching the show that the 1st performance in front of an audience is done & the tour is well & truly begun.

David Sayers - Deborah Klayman - Julian Pindar - David Martin - Holly Piper - Alice Bonifacio

(c) George Riddell, http://www.myworldmyeyes.co.uk

As tradition for a Gala/Opening night, the cast, director, creative team, designers & family as well as press get together for a celebratory drink after the show.

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The ‘Irving Room’ at The Kings Theatre, Southsea, Opening Night Gala Drinks

All gather in the wonderful ‘Irving Room’ at The Kings Theatre & congratulations are abound – it’s then onwards to digs & sleep…for tomorrow is another day touring ‘Othello’.

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