Sunday, May 25, 2008

Amateur Night at the Palace

Friday night's show was a disaster to be remembered. Truly one for the record books. It was like a cosmic force of suck descended over the theatre and could not be lifted. First and most importantly, the air conditioner was out in the auditorium. It had been left to run after Thursday night's pick-up rehearsal and was frozen solid. And no one noticed till 6:45 pm when there was nothing we could do about it. I kick myself, since I worked in the office on Friday during the day and didn't notice that the auditorium was a stifling inferno. The unit for the lobby was fine and in our defense, we don't let the air run in the theatre when no one is working in there. Even if I did notice it was warm in there, I would have assumed the air was off, not broken. So we roasted. We roasted on stage, the band roasted on their backstage perch and the poor audience of 250 roasted in the slow-cooker.

As if that wasn't enough, pretty much immediately upon starting the show, the monitors stopped working. These are the monitors that allow the actors to hear the band and vice versa. So they couldn't hear us and we couldn't hear them. And no amount of poking and prodding, wishing and hoping, would get the monitors back online. They were out for the count. We did the whole show the best we could, often not quite in time with the music.

And weird things kept happening during the show. Not acting things - tech things. Set pieces blown over by the wind in the alley, batons getting stuck together and not raising as they should. This one was big. There is a big black curtain down during the scene when the aggie boys are in their locker room singing and dancing about their impending visit to the whorehouse. Mid song this drop is raised and the set changed to the whorehouse behind them. At the end of the song they 'arrive' at the chicken ranch. So when the curtain got stuck on the facade of the house and no amount of pushing and pulling would get it unstuck, Ron had to raise both the black curtain and the facade. In the meantime, the song ended and the boys were supposed to be there, except the black was still down and no whorehouse awaited them. But they were great, ad-libbing lines, hooting and hollering "We're goin to the whorehouse!" "Where is it?" "We gonna be there soon?"

So finally the curtain is up and the girls all rush in for the 'prom' scene already in progress musically because the band has no idea what is going on. We sort of make it in time for the dance part and get on with the scene. Problem is that the facade of the house, which is supposed to be there when we take the boys up to our rooms, is not there. So there are no windows with shades to close. We still have to go upstairs, but instead of taking a breather and getting a drink of water in the privacy of the room, we are exposed to the audience. So we all go up and get in a 'whorish' pose with our guy and freeze. For at least 3 minutes. While dialogue goes on downstairs and the Melvin P Thorpe crew comes in to raid the chicken ranch. Doesn't sound like a long time to anyone who has never had to freeze on stage. It seemed an eternity.

We managed to pull it off and finish the show. We lost people at intermission. I don't blame them for leaving. The theatre was like an oven, the sound was crap and we were pretty low energy due to the heat. Not up to the Palace standards at all.

But really, we can be proud that as a cast, we didn't miss a step. It was not a good show, but it wasn't line flubs, missed entrances or forgotten lyrics. We actually got a standing ovation. I think the remaining audience knew that the problems were out of our control. And I heard it said several times from audience members that we gave a good performance and they were impressed with how we managed it. Mary Ellen, the director, was grinning from ear to ear by the end of it. She told me that despite the crap, she was so proud of the cast that she couldn't help smiling.

After the Friday from hell, I just knew that Saturday night's show would be the best yet. And it was. The AC was back in working condition and they had a sound guy come in the afternoon to get all the monitors and mic's functioning. We did a 40 minute sound check before the show to get the best possible mix we could. It really sounded great. Downside was that we opened the house for seating 15 minutes late and I was afraid we were going to piss people off from the get go and that could ruin the this-show-must-rock mojo.

It didn't. We had an amazing show. The sound was awesome, the actors excited and full of energy and the audience wonderfully responsive. They clapped along with the aggie dance, hooted and hollered a lot and generally had a great time. It was a blast. And it was so nice to remember how much fun it is to be on stage when the audience is right there with you and you're in your groove. I actually teared up a little bit on stage when I was up in my room and the black curtain came up perfectly on time and the boys were dancing so well and the audience was clapping and I stood in my window as Angel and took it all in.

We are closed in the office on Monday for the holiday. We shall see on Tuesday how many requests for refunds and angry emails we get from Friday's debacle. But I am just so glad that we gave Saturday's crowd their money's worth. Yippee!

BTW, anyone wanting to come see the show, we have three more weekends. Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 and Sundays at 2:00. Get tickets now, though, we are selling like crazy! Click here to go to the Palace site to buy tickets online or call 512-869-7469.

Heh, if anyone wants to come, that is, after my description of our glorious Friday night. But really, that was such a cosmic fluke, it can't happen again, right? *furiously knocking on wood*

1 comment:

The Holmes said...

Finding yourself in the midst of a performance like that is a nightmare that feels like it's going to last for weeks. Kudos to all of you for bringing it off.