Journey to Hometown, Part 25
It seemed strangely muted as we gathered back stage at the places call during last night's private performance of the show. A customer appreciation event for a home building company, Rohit, the size of the crowd was somewhat smaller than what we had experienced the week before, and smaller than what we'll experience for the remaining four performances, three of which are less than a couple dozen seats away from being completely sold out.
To the credit of this cohesive group, they rose to the challenge and delivered a great performance of a musical that continues to surprise, delight and move people by the thousands.
Considering the population of the urban centre of Fort McMurray - about 73,000 according to the most recent municipal census - about 5 percent of our community will have seen Hometown...The Musical! by the time it closes, around 10:30 pm on Saturday night. Extrapolating that figure over to a city the size of Edmonton, that would equate to a total audience in that community of 60,000; or, put another way, 100 sold out performances in a row in a 600-seat theatre. The penetration of Hometown into our community is nothing short of remarkable.
What the audience of 225 couldn't see last night was the flurry of activity happening backstage as they were getting settled into their seats. After three nights off, many of our costume pieces were still being laundered as we got into mics and make-up. I got my shirt at about the 10-minute call and slipped into my still damp pants as the curtain speeches began. Usually not an issue, trying to get hundreds of shirts, pants and assorted bits and pieces washed is no small undertaking with laundry facilities designed to handle productions a quarter of this size.
To be completely honest, I had a little diva moment as I was offered a pair of dry replacement pants. Realizing they were not my regular pair, I dashed out the loading dock, down the back hallway and into the costume shop.
"Where are my pants?" I asked, acutely aware that the places call had already been given. "I don't care if they're wet."
They tossed them over, I ran back to my dressing room, slipped them on and started the show. By the end of Act One, under the heat of the lights, they were completely dry.
Hockey players have their pre-game rituals and superstitions, so do baseball players. I guess some of us thespians are no different; we rely on routine and familiar patterns that guide our way through the process. Everything that happens, from the moment I arrive at the theatre to the time I leave, has a very repetitive quotidian quality to it. That doesn't mean I do the exact same thing every day, but there is a continuity that I establish the moment we get into the theatre that I maintain through the entire run. It grounds me, and enables me to focus entirely on what happens the moment I hear my cue and the lights come up.