Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Mikado: Week One


It's here! Dress rehearsal is supposed to be as close to a proper show as can be, so everyone wore full make-up and costume.

The dressing room was one large co-ed room, with props--not ours--everywhere. Stacks of boxes labeled "feather boas" and "4-person dragon costume" and "french maid outfits." In the ladies fitting room, I used to leave my day clothes on a knight's shield. There was a a large rack in the main room filled entirely with dusty glasses. Champagne glasses, wine goblets, beer mugs, all with a sign that read DO NOT USE! ...BUT IF YOU DO, WASH AND REPLACE WHERE YOU FOUND IT.

Our wigs were set up at our station when we walked in. Isn't it pretty! It didn't feel pretty. It felt like a mushroom on my head.

My poor dance partner had to apply make-up for the very first time. He lifted the lip liner to his face, stared hard at the mirror, and said, "I'm an artist, I should be able to do this."

Another male chorus member, a 6'4" teenage boy, held up the pair of ballet tights he was expected to wear. They were approximately two feet long. And pink. The look on his face of utter disbelief. I promised him they'd stretch.

Our Pooh-Bah is more familiar with putting on stage make-up, but not with putting on a long handlebar moustache. The glue didn't work very well tonight. So we turned it into a unibrow. And then made it crooked. And stuck it on his nose. Upside down.

For my part, I have a gorgeous lime green kimono--but no obi. It's not ready yet. Without the obi to secure it better, my kimono kept flashing lots of leg every time I kneeled. Or moved. Or sat or stood or walked or danced or polka'ed. Yup. I'm that schoolgirl.


Tonight's show was...interesting. Isn't that a good word? Interesting.

The stage is definitely smaller than expected. It's narrower and the set--two sets of stairs with sliding screen doors--takes up a lot of space.

At intermission, our choreographer stepped into the greenroom and said, "What do you people have against the damn stairs!" and for the first time since we've moved in, the greenroom went dead silent.

...So during Act II, we made sure there were always lots of people standing on the stairs!

Also during Act II, the Lord High Executioner announces to the Mikado that the coroner has just handed him the death certificate. And that would be when Pooh-Bah, aka the coroner, hands him the death certificate.

...Unless Pooh-Bah forgets the death certificate. Unless the death certificate is currently lying on the props table off stage left. Since there was really no way to continue the scene--which involves reading the death certificate--Pooh-Bah scrambled up, snatched it from offstage, and came back in record time while everyone paused and tried not to panic under the stage lights and the audience's stares.

Also, later on Pooh-Bah's moustache fell off so far, he ripped it right off onstage, and I nearly did a faceplant through the screendoor while I balanced on a stack of plywood. Actual plywood. During Yum-Yum's solo, two of us kneel behind the screendoors and a backlight casts our shadow while we do a pretty little fan dance.


Apparently, yesterday sucked. In fact, it sucked so much that the choreographer came in with seven pages worth of changes tonight, which included taking two thirds of the chorus and sticking them on the stairs, where they will stand for the big dance numbers. Six chorus members, myself included, still get to dance.

After quickly marking through the changes on stage after vocal warm-up, we finished getting ready and played on our gameboys. Well, one Japanese eighteen-and-under schoolgirl did, in full costume. The rest of us just took pictures. The show went much smoother than last night's, despite the last minute changes. It helped that when it came time to dance, there was actually space to dance in. Always a plus. In fact, our choreographer said we looked like "a company." Yay!


Gala began with daffodils and Mini Eggs--that's guarantees a good show, right?

The audience was filled with VIPs: former directors, producers and actors. Anyone who's been someone. They know all the lyrics and all the dialogue so for heaven's sake do not screw up!

KoKo, the Lord High Executioner, was feeling the pressure. He has a line right before the girls entrance where he says that his bride and her sisters approach. Except tonight, he said his daughters and her bride approach.

Any other night, that could have been covered up. But on Gala, it had to be acknowledged--and got a good laugh.

I hadn't gotten too nervous during the shows yet...until our first entrance tonight when I ran out and immediately started recognizing people all over the place. The knowledge of who was out there was nervewracking. I had to force myself not to search faces because it would only freak me out more.

When the final curtain closed, we raced up to the dressing room. I mean, we booked it up there. I had everything planned so I could get ready in record time and for once, it actually worked. I wore a floor length, black gown. What is it about floor length that makes all dresses seem so much fancier?

SHOW FOUR (Saturday Night)

Figures the night I screw up is the night my parents come.

During the Act 1 finale, my fan fell and skidded downstage centre. I picked it up moments later when I flirt with Nanki-Poo, but then once the couples dancing started, my partner's fan slipped from his obi and thudded onto the ground. I picked up his too, and then moments after that, Nanki-Poos fan went flying and my partner picked it up.

It was not good a night for fans.

Also, the safety pin on my kimono came undone and kept stabbing me. Then, the Mikado decided to spice things up by ad libbing a long a cappella solo that the chorus was unprepared for--warning would be nice, thanks--and during one part where two girls make a bridge with their parasols and we all run under, the top of my wig smacked against the parasols when I went through.


Overall, it was a great show but for awful, awful show. I ate three cookies, 1 bag of mini eggs, and may or may not have ended the night with a shot of tequila.

Oh show business, thou art a heartless bitch.

SHOW FIVE (Sunday Matinee)

We spent half an hour at the beach before heading to the theatre today. I think some time at the ocean was well-appreciated since performing full-out every night has started to catch up to us. The male lead is sick, and a few of the others are coughing. My voice was definitely not as strong as usual.

One of the show's most iconic songs is KoKo's "I've Got A Little List," where he names all the people who, if they died, no one would care about. Our version includes 90-lb models who think they're fat, the entire cast of Jersey Shore, and directors who change the lyrics to songs. Everything rhymes with missed or list until "that really gets me--mad." Love that line.

There was one goof at the start of the third number that the ladies chorus is in. It starts with one of the guys dancing funny and then we imitate him. Except tonight, the music was late to start so he started dancing...and then danced some more until the music came in.

The silhouette scene seemed to go better--blind synchronization has not been our friend. However, my mother, my sister and my boyfriend all thought I was the silhouette on house right. I'm not! House left, stage right!

And if that's too confusing, I'm the one doing it correctly. (Did I say that?)

The Mikado: Week Two

SHOW SIX (Wednesday evening)

Packed house--it is so weird to have a balcony. I keep forgetting they're there and then suddenly I'll see light flashing off of someone's watch and it totally throws me off.

My parents came again tonight so my dance partner and I made a pack before going on that we would not drop our fans and it totally worked.

Act two went smoothly--except for the Mikado's ad libbed cadenza which confuzzles the heck out of the chorus still. Whoops.

The male lead is now feeling better, but the Mikado is now feeling worse. Peep Bo is now over her cold, Peep Bo Unofficial Understudy now has a cold. I hardly had a voice yesterday morning, but it got better and I refuse to think of illness as a possibility. I am not going to get sick. Decision made.

SHOW SEVEN (Thursday evening)

After a warning of no more ad libbing! (a rule, along with underwear is mandatory) and a re-visit of "Mi-ya Sa-ma" choreography, we all finished getting ready as the audience piled in. Another fantastically crowded audience, albeit a quieter one than we've been having lately.

Backstage, we had fun gossiping about about the back story of the prego chorusgirl. In reality, she's married; in the show, she's the slutty schoolgirl who had a fling with Nanki-Poo, which accidentally led to the incarceration of KoKo. Unless KoKo's really the father. Scandal in Titti-Poo!

Everything went fine until the Act I finale. At the end, Katisha barrels through the crowd, whacking at people, threatening everyone, and being generally angry and violent. Since my dance partner is the farthest stage right, they discussed shoving him so that he could fall back and emphasis her strength even more. Tonight, she growled and burst through us, shoving him aside. He flew back onto the floor, his kimono flipping up, legs sprawled out and showing a great deal of ballet pink tights.

There is a very good reason why underwear is mandatory.

Thankfully, he had remembered underwear but forgotten to wear shorts under his kimono, as everyone usually does. Since his kimono doesn't typically flap about too much, he also didn't pin it together so there was nothing holding it in place as he fell backwards.

That's one way to end Act I!

SHOW EIGHT (Friday evening)

I forgot to wash my tights last night, and when I got home from work, I opened the fridge door and there was  note taped inside that read, "YOUR TIGHTS ARE IN THE DRYER!" There was another tape to my bathroom mirror. Thanks, Mom!

Our make-up for the show involves cat eyes and bow lips, which are super cute. But if you mess up with liquid eyeliner, there's only so many times you can fix it before you look like a victim from Law and Order.

No kimono flashing tonight! However, Yum-Yum broke her mirror and promptly stole the next line, one of my bosses sat front row centre, and I sniffled and smiled and tried not to be sick.

(But I'm totally sick.)



Runny noses on stage are not fun.

BUT closing shows? So much fun! Every time we rushed off the stage, everyone would burst into "That's the last time I'll faint in your arms!" "That's the end of our train of little ladies!" "That's my last death scene! ...Hopefully."

As the curtain closed at the end of the show, we waited until the audience cleared out to take our cast photo. Then we booked it to the dressing room! Obis got packed, kimono sleeves were flying all over the place, shoes were manhandled (literally, one guy took off his ballet shoes and pitched them into the trash). 

I got dressed and leaped out of the dressing room all the way to the lobby to meet my brother and his girlfriend. When I got back to the dressing room, I finished wiping off my stage make-up and promptly replaced it with normal make-up, much to the amusement of my dance partner, who is very thankful to never wear stage foundation ever again, thank you very much.

Striking the set is beautifully choreographed chaos in which I take no part. I put my props away, clear my station, and help with the cleaning. I stay far away from power drills, splintering wood, and any kind of lifting that involves multiple people on the count of three.

The goal was to get everything loaded into the truck as quickly as possible--so we could all go to Boston Pizza and start partying. We were doing well until my friend--also my ride--realized she'd locked her keys in her car.


Our Lord High Executioner thought he could open it with a coat hanger, and our set builder went all MacGyver with a plastic bottle and double sided tape, but neither of them could break in. A dozen people from our cast and crew gathered and after about half an hour of waiting and hoping, BCAA arrived and popped open the passenger door.

Despite the late start, everyone was still in full adrenaline mode and wide awake when we finally all got to the restaurant. The director began with everyone's favourite part of the cast party: the crudes.

C.R.U.D.E's. Creative Really Unusual Dramatic Entertainment.

For Best Use of a Prop Without the Aid of a Director, I was nominated for dropping my fan and nearly killing the male lead, one of the girls was nominated for smacking one of the others in the face with a parasol, and the Yum-Yum won for breaking her hand mirror onstage and then promptly becoming so flustered that she gave away the punchline.

For Best Dialogue Without the Aid of a Script, KoKo, Pish-Tush and Pooh-Bah were nominated for threatening to behead an audience member ("Substitute!") when their cellphone rang mid-scene, KoKo was nominated for adding Nickleback to his list of people who wouldn't be missed, Pooh-Bah was nominated for using the word 'versimilatude' five times in one line, and KoKo won for calling the entire female chorus his "daughters."

My dance partner won for flashing the audience--repeatedly!--and then the ultimate CRUDE, the I-Wrote-The-Words-On-My-Gloves Award, was bestowed upon Pooh-Bah for his Preview Night slip-up when he forgot his scroll and had to scamper offstage to get it while everyone waited onstage.

After CRUDEs, came the Harmony award (to the male lead), the scholarship (to me!) and a special thank-you plaque to our choreographer for years of love, dedication, and general putting up with us.

One by one, people left. Some made speeches, most gave hugs, and eventually our Mikado family dispersed.

Till next show.

Saturday, June 2, 2012


1) I fail at yoga. Such fail. I think I need a hip replacement.

2) Smuggled Tim Hortons coffees into a movie theatre--that's how you know you're a grown-up, when you smuggle coffee instead of Jub-Jubs.

3) If only all physical violence involved pirouettes and plies like in West Side Story, the world would be a better place.

4) The next generation isn't going to know Pluto or pennies. Is it even worth having children?

5) If you run choreography underwater, the lifeguards wonder if you're drowning.