They Say That All Good Things Must End, My Friend

Last night, Saturday, March 19, the curtain went down (figuratively, since we didn’t actually use the curtain) for the last time on our production of “Buffalo Gal”. I have mixed feelings about this. The team that, over precious few weeks, transformed printed words into complex living people, will now disperse to other tasks. We will not have that particular “chemistry” again.

On the other hand, I know I am not alone in feeling the urge to put the current production to bed and explore new characters and situations. As it happens, four of us are already gearing up for another show, “Don’t  Drink the Water.”

Our closing night audience helped us give the kind of performance with which to end a run. Their reactions to the humor and drama of “Buffalo Gal” actually made the show run almost fifteen minutes longer. They laughed at lines that I had begun to think were funny only to me, and I heard an audible reaction to Amanda’s revelation about “Thanksgiving”. If you don’t know the reference, I suggest you read it or, better yet, find a production to enjoy.

My thanks to everyone who contributed to making this show happen – the board of the Kent County Theatre Guild, who trusted me with this project (I am currently a member of that board.), Nancy Quirk, who took care of the marketing and advertising, Charlie Beck and his recruits, who made sure our audiences had snacks and drinks before the show and at intermission (Charlie is married to Necia Beck, our “Amanda”), Patti Kozerski, who, with help from Marlynn Hedgecock and Fior Zinzi (married to John -“Dan”), connected potential audience members with seats at performances. If I overlooked anyone, I’m sorry. I’m getting older and closing night cast parties take their toll.

Special thanks to those who worked with me to create this show – David Schucker (“Roy”), Turquoise Olezene (“Debbie”), Lezlie Eustis (“Jackie”), Necia Beck (“Amanda”), Arthur D. Paul (“James”), John Zinzi (“Dan”), and Patti Gatto (Bookholder, Stage Manager, Co-Director), who offered so many great ideas, right up to closing night. I could go on and on about each of you and all of you, but they say that all good things must end, my friend.

Let’s do it again, sometime, but let’s do something different, to keep it fresh.

-Kevin Smith

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Another audience, another show

In my last post, I talked about the different reactions that two audiences can have to the same show (essentially the same show, since it is live theater, in which no two shows are identical). Today, our matinee audience added another data point to that curve. They laughed at everything! (Okay, not everything. There was one line that other audiences have enjoyed that they let pass, but maybe they were resting.)

Today’s audience laughed from almost the first line through to the end of the show. It made a difference to the actors. You could see them drawing energy from the audience’s reactions and , the more energy they drew, the stronger their performances became.

We have two more performances – next Friday and Saturday – and I hope some potential audience members see this and understand that expressing their enjoyment, during the performance, might actually result in an even more enjoyable experience for them. I know that some folks are “silent laughers”. I am, myself, on many occasions, but I try to vocalize it, too, to communicate my enjoyment and appreciation. Often, I find it increases my feeling of satisfaction. It only takes a few people laughing aloud to let the rest of the audience know that it’s OK to laugh. And everybody benefits.

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Different Strokes

It’s fascinating that each audience finds something different in a play. A line at which one audience laughed uproariously will go right by the next night’s audience without causing a stir. The second audience, though, may well find a laugh in a completely new place. Sometimes, that might be due to a changed delivery, leading to a note to “Keep that in” or “Go back to the other way”, but sometimes it’s just that each audience is a unique “creature” with its own perspective.

On a totally unrelated note: Any Stage Manager types reading this might be interested to know that my SM says this is the easiest show she’s worked. She says that all she has to do is to call “Lights” at the top of the show and then watch. I suspect she’s doing a bit more, like warning upcoming light and sound cues, helping “Amanda” with a couple of costume changes, and she may have a couple of actor calls (though I suspect they come up early and are waiting in the wings long before their entrances). So, “Lights” at the top of the show and again for curtain call may be the whole job.

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Opening Night

Things got a little busy, so there have been no updates for a while. Weather, illnesses, other responsibilities – these all took little nips out of our well-planned rehearsal schedule. We persevered and, last night, Friday, March 4, 2011, “Buffalo Gal” opened to an appreciative audience.

There were, of course, minor glitches. It’s live theater, after all, and that’s the joy and terror of doing live theater – each moment is totally new, never seen before, never to be repeated.

We’re looking forward to a good run. Performances continue on Friday and Saturday evenings at 8 PM – March 5, 11, 12, 18, 1nd 19, and one Sunday matinee – March 13, at 2 PM. Come join our fun, if you can.

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Act One – A New Beginning

Wow! We ran Act I last night, with all roles filled, and I saw that it was GOOD! The characters who have been working for the last two weeks have really done a lot to put flesh and bone and feeling and meaning onto the framework from which they started. Our “James” (Anyone interested in the names of the actors, please visit the KCTG website (www.kctg.org). In this forum, only the characters exist.) jumped right in and blew us all away.

After one “readthrough” and some notes, “James” came to life right before our eyes. After two weeks of imagining the character, whose lines were read by different people at different times, and whose physical presence could only be approximated (sometimes in more than one place at the same time), this was truly AWESOME!

Break out the spinnaker! The wind’s behind us and we’re SAILING!

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Hail, Hail, The Gang’s All Here

I am VERY pleased to report that the cast of “Buffalo Gal” is now complete. For a while, it looked as if I was going to have to resort to non-traditional casting to fill the role of the non-traditionally-cast “James”. It just would not have worked, but I didn’t see an alternative.

On Thursday, the day on which I had resolved to make the hard decision (see last post), a series of messages led to a meeting with an actor friend of an actor friend of another actor in the show, who looks the part, sounds the part and who, after careful consideration, has agreed to play the part!

On Monday, for the first time, we rehearse with a full cast! Now the work truly begins.

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Moving Forward (Not Looking Back)

The role of “James” has not yet been filled, and I’m going to have to make some difficult decisions soon. There are still ripples spreading through the local theater community, and I hope that one of them will stir up a “James” for us.

On the positive side, our “Dan” has now found a window in his commitments and joined rehearsals. After so long without either of the “ghosts of Buffalo Past,” it’s made a big difference in energy levels.

We’ve been able to focus on a critical scene in which Amanda and Dan reveal some profound truths, and have spent a couple of nights running this scene in detail. It’s not “finished,” but I think it’s going to be a well-crafted piece of theater that will give audiences moments to laugh, to gasp, and to empathize (or criticize).

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