Sunday, May 30, 2010

HMS Pinafore: The End (Shows 10, 11 and Cast Party)

HMS Pinafore is officially over.

For the matinee, I arrived a bit late with my Timmies and only had time to smear on some foundation before heading to vocal warm-up. Vocal warm-up was always kinda fun. Together, we looked absolutely ridiculous. Some people were in street clothes, some in costume, and lots somewhere in between the two. I usually had my hair and make-up done, but wore normal clothes, or my costume only half zipped up and hanging off with a normal top on instead. For the girls who curled their hair in ringlets with an iron, sometimes only half their head would be done and the other half would be straight.

We were a fairly fugly bunch.

After warm-up, the girls dressing room was an interesting place to be. We had quite a few older ladies in the chorus this year, and some of them had very dirty minds. Waaaay worse than us younger girls. Conversations were always entertaining. For example: vaginal atrophy. Yeah.

Over the weekends, the main theatre was also in use so we lost one of our dressing rooms and the guys had to frequently sneak through ours to use the bathroom. All (well, except one who would barge in wearing tights, bare chest that we threatened to wax, and a hair net) were quite shy and very polite, but a couple times they walked in, got half way to the bathroom, heard a sentence or two of ours, and got very confused. Or shocked. Sometimes they blushed: it was all very entertaining.

Once the show started and the guys were on stage, the girls all slowly zipped up our costumes, darted in our hats, and pulled on our gloves. At the matinee yesterday, we spent quite a while just sitting and talking all together.

Josephine's "Sorry Her Lot" was our cue to begin heading upstairs to the stage. We sang "Over the Bright Blue Sea" from offstage, and the moment the next song begun and the guys began to sing (them onstage dancing, us hiding offstage), we danced.

Again, we have some older ladies in our group. We taught them to krump. And they got into it.  Awesome.

It was a great physical warm-up too because although we don't do any crazy athletic moves, we don't really stop moving much ever once we start. And because it was just us girls, in a dark wooden faux-cabin under the poop deck where no one else could see us, we just went for it. Twice it was videotaped but there was no light so neither of them are viewable. But still: awesome.

We had eight bars to get all of us from backstage, around the side of the ship, on to the stage and into our spots. It didn't work.

Very early on, it was doubled to sixteen bars, and since I was one of the last to come out, that gave me just enough time to get on stage, ogle some sailors near stage left centre, twirl, then run to my spot and start dancing.

I quite liked barely having enough time. It was long enough to get settled without having time to waste . Cool.

The matinee overall went really well. In the audience were several friends, including one who was rapt with attention the entire show and appeared to be thoroughly enjoying himself from the front row. He's been in the show before so he knows all the words, and also most of the cast. Plus, he's a fairly spectacular guy himself, and my sister's favourite all-time G'n'S actor.

Afterwords, we all got changed into regular clothes again and had a big potluck lunch. Two of us decided to eat in the girls dressing room and the entire cast followed, including all the guys who had to sit on the floor.

FYI, these people are fabulous. And funny. And because we're all in the same boat (figuratively and literally), there's a lot of unity.

Much sooner than expected, it was vocal warm-up again. Because it was our last chance, some of us really took the stage instead of just standing around the musical director. Several people rang the bell. I sat on the top step of the stairs, and two other girls joined me and we sat one above the other and swayed to all the warm-ups. One of the guys, of the silly variety, saw us looking happy and just a tad corny and sat and swayed with us too. Hehe.

Usually, there's a lot of, er, comments on the last show. Like, "this is the last time I will ever have to wear this goddamn dress" or "I am never wearing these tights again" or "This costume would look great in a bonfire".

Although one dress will be burned--it had the malfunction, even the costume woman hates it--I quite liked mine. It fit well, was a good length, my shoe never got caught in the hem (although it did have to be sewn up once), I loooved the trumpet sleeves and the neckline (square) was neither claustrophobic nor cleavage-y. I have no complaints.

Except about the hat. Biiiig complaints about the hat.

My gloves were quite pretty too, and since my sleeves were only three quarter, I never had to stuff them up like some of the others either. Overall, I had it pretty sweet.

One of the more difficult songs to dance is "When I Was a Lad". Our choreography was quite simple, very repetetive, and everyone does the same thing. The trouble is remembering the order. There's the hand wave, then the big eight hand wave, then the bouncing, then the above the head jazz hands, then the big steps, then the box step, then the little end part. We all know how to do each step, but frequently, there's that moment of ahhhh-box step, or ahhhh-why does everyone else have their hands in the air except me?

There's six of us that make up the front row, three of each side, and we form a V. Our side of the V was perfect that last show. We've done it correctly before, but this time it was correct and clean and polished. I have no idea how everyone else did (it's usually good, just sooo easy to hesitate) but I was very happy.

The audience was great too. Sometimes, audiences are having a great time and they're chuckling and smiling but because they're not being loud, we can't tell. So they're just dead to us. We need to hear actual laughter to know for certain that they get it. They're enjoying themselves. And when we know that, it's completely rejuvenating and we try that much harder to get more laughter and so on.

This audience--and the one at the matinee too, which had three young girls in the second row who just killed themselves laughing at Sir Joseph!--was really responsive. The perfect way to end a run.

Everything went great until

I just want to pause and laugh at that sentence. Until: that dreaded word.

Everything went great until the middle of Act II when we sneak on stage to help Josephine and Ralph elope. The Captain was on the upper deck--hidden because he was wearing a jacket and no one can ever see or recognize you if you're wearing a big jacket on stage--with the cat-o-nine-tails, a whip. Twice, he hits the deck with the whip and we all jump: "What was that!"

Except our footwork was choreographed. So we all jumped on the same beat as the whip hit--it was a huge sound by the way, the audience usually jumped as well--until this time, the very last time that the Captain would ever use his whip, and he flung it back over his shoulder and then--

It got caught in his costume.

Meanwhile, everyone on stage jumped!

That is one issue with operas and operettas: if something goes wrong, you can't ad lib easily. After we all jumped, the guys still sang "What was that!" and Dick Deadeye still answered.

Other than that, nothing went wrong and it was a great ending to a great show.

After the bows, we do the reprise, and after the reprise, we run off stage.

Then chaos.

Our lovely set had to be completely taken a part, all the props had to be packed away, all the costumes had to be sorted and packed, along with our hats and gloves, and absolutely everything we brought to the theatre had to get out.

It was kind of bittersweet. Everything was okay until I saw the set. It really was a beautiful set. The stage left stuff were dissembled and moved quickly, but stage right has a whole second level so that took a while. The deck itself was built in three parts and they unattached the big middle piece first since it was the lightest. Four men got it up and were holding it above their heads, then one let go since he wasn't really needed, and then at the same time, two more let go and for a split second there was one guy in the middle whose face dropped as he tried to hold the entire eight foot long panel by himself before the others all realized and jumped back in. Hehe.

We got to Boston Pizza for the cast party around quarter to eleven. Everyone was sighing. Happy sighs, relieved sighs, and lots of laughter.

Then came the Crudes. Crude (pronounced cruddey) stands for Creative Really Unusual Dramatic Entertainment.

Aka the screw-up awards. They're given to people who somehow messed up or did something on stage that was really funny and not supposed to happen. They have titles like "Best dialogue without the use of a script" award or "Best costume without a costume designer" award.

For example, one of the guys won Best Costume in Princess and the Pea when he went onstage without pants. Whoops. I believe this years Best Dialogue went to Buttercup's flub in "A many years ago" when she forgot the words to an entire verse.

Not many people actually sent in nominations this year, which was a shame because we screwed up a lot. The wardrobe malfunction with the yellow dress should have been there, and the guy who's pants started falling down during the hornpipe but he had to wait till the end to pull them back up, and my hat and the melting scar.

After the Crudes came the "I Wrote the Words on My Gloves" award. This is a special award for a really royal mess-up. It started the last time the society did HMS Pinafore and the man playing Sir Joseph forgot his scroll, so when it came for the guys to hold the scroll (which is supposed to show the music and words to a song they're just learning) and sing "A British Tar", one of the men took off his gloves and said he wrote the words on them and they sang it like that.

One year, a guy got it for realizing he wasn't supposed to be wearing his hat in this scene, so he drop kicked it off stage. It didn't actually make it off stage.

In Iolanthe, the lead--dressed as a half fairy arcadian shepard--got it for being asked for his ticket right as he was about to enter through the lobby.

That award and the scholarship winner were announced, and then we all partied until the first few people had to leave, and the good-byes started.

There was a lot of hugging. And everyone stood up and squished in between tables and an hour was spent like that as one by one, people had to head home. It's hard because it'll be a year before some of us see each other again, and even that's no guarantee.

There were a couple cameras floating around so one of the guys decided to dip me before he left, which kinda terrified me but worked out okay. But guys are stupid and competitive, so one of the others grabbed me and dipped me really really low, but Guy One got his revenge by taking his sweet time turning the camera on and zooming in and out before he took the actual picture.

Finally, there were just eight us left, and a laptop was brought out and we started looking through the cast photo CD we'd just been given. It was kinda funny because there's parts of the show we've never seen. I know Sir Joseph flirts with Ralph a couple times, but I'm behind all the sailors so I've never seen it. And one of the guys who sings the Englishman solo always got a laugh but I couldn't see why.

 Finally, we were down to four and BP kicked us out 'cause it was nearly three and they close at two. We went to McDs and chatted and hung out till five. Both of the guys are going away in the Fall so we won't be doing another show together for at least four years.

And now, I'm home.

Looking at audition schedules.