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?)