The first dress rehearsal – Eeek!
The other big event over this past weekend was the infamous first dress rehearsal. Yes, yes, we’d all been measured in all dimensions and we’d all had the experience of standing there like window dummies while the costumers tried out various items of clothing on us, but Sunday was the Real Thing. We all got dressed up in what we had been given and did a run through in the evening.
Sounds so simple, doesn’t it? In reality of course it was nothing but. First of all there was the Costume Parade where we acted like catwalk models. We’d quickly put on one outfit, dash into the Green Room to have the Costume Designer tut over us, and stick safety pins in appropriate places, and then dash back to do the same for the next one. It was quite mad and all of a sudden backstage at the FAC turned remarkably Dickensian as we all milled about showing off our costumes to each other.
At last the Costume Designer considered herself happy, all costume notes had been written down (“Get So-and-so an Ascot”, “Let out whatsisname’s collar”), and we launched into a full dress rehearsal. With the band no less, so instead of just hearing the rehearsal piano, we were getting the full effect of the music. Considering by this time we had been working nearly 48 hours, apart from going to bed to sleep at night, it was pretty good.
But of course, being the first dress rehearsal, we became intimately aware that certain costume changes were extremely quick, a little too tight for comfort. For example, while the audience are imbibing their intermission cocktails, I’ll be struggling to get into the full costume for the Ghost of Christmas Present, with the help of two dressers. The first time we did this in anger, as it were, it took all 15 minutes of intermission. Certainly habit will make this easier (pun intended!), but it’s still pretty intense and doesn’t allow for mistakes.
Other cast members had such a quick change that we have to rethink when and how they’ll appear. For example, Steve Emily, who’s playing Scrooge’s dead partner Marley, had a change from Marley to a partygoer, and then back to Marley in Act I. He couldn’t make the final change in time, and that was without worrying about applying makeup. Unfortunately, there was nothing for it but to remove him as the partygoer (it was a non-speaking role anyway.) Other tweaks like that were identified and put into place.
By the end of Sunday evening we were to a man, woman, or child, exhausted. But happy. There was a palpable air of having achieved something momentous by the end of that first dress rehearsal. I, for one, slept like a log that night.
Ghost of Christmas Present