Journey to Hometown, Part 12

There is a period of time in any production process when your nerves get tested, your patience gets frayed, and it feels like your trying to climb a mountain covered with three feet of molasses.  We're in that phase now.

Despite the length of the day, the complexity of the work that was being done, and the number of people doing it, the ensemble of Hometown...The Musical! is remarkably respectful and focused.  We spent five straight hours trying to stitch scenes together in Act Two, some of which many of us were seeing for the first time.  It is slow, methodical work for the co-directors, stage manager and music director as they collectively figure out the business that needs to happen getting people, props and furniture off and on the stage coordinated with the lines and the music.

As new tasks were assigned on the fly, notes were furiously being scribbled in the margins of scripts for review later.  Move Bench #1 off stage left, or Mv B1 off SL (for short) was one such notation in my book.

I'm in the strange, yet blessed, position of having learned all my lines, a month ahead of opening.  I can't recall a production - I've done a few with Keyano Theatre Company: Grapes of Wrath, The Taming of the Shrew, Wonderful Life, Death of a Salesman, Romeo and Juliet, Wait Until Dark, Beauty and the Beast, The Farnsworth Invention  - when I was off book so soon.  Thank goodness though, because there are so many other entrances, exits, songs and choreographed bits to figure out.

Steph Link working out the kinks during The Farnsworth Invention
One of the magicians in this process is Steph Link, our stage manager, and her capable band of assistants, Jennifer, Rhiannon and Theresa.  Together, they are charged with capturing all the directions and details, scribbling them into the master script, the tome that has the final say when the ensemble memory fails at some run through down the road.

Trying to organize, wrangle and work with this many people, each of whom have personal circumstances that come into play - conflicted schedules, broken down cars, sicknesses and otherwise - is a herculean effort.  Steph is a real pro and she is helping to develop three talented, committed, and patient young ladies who have tremendous potential.

The development piece of community theatre cannot be overstated.  Yes, we are focused on delivering a production that is going to be entertaining, moving and reflective of the passion we feel for Wood Buffalo. But the work that happens to get us to opening night is equally, if not more important.  This process is strengthening and broadening our artistic capacity as a community, at numerous levels.

We have people who have never been in a show, enjoying themselves beyond measure and learning heaps about theatre.  We have dancers who are successfully experiencing - some for the first time - how their skill beautifully integrates with singing and acting.  Members of the inter-church choir are getting a taste for what happens behind the curtain and beyond the music.  From old to young, Hometown...The Musical! is education in action.  And while the destination is super important, the journey is everything.  I'm so pleased that so many have chosen to join us on this trip.


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