NEW - Listen to Scott talk about Guys and Dolls on B103 FM.
(Page will open in a new window)
I was sitting backstage during this afternoon’s rehearsal for Guys and Dolls and I had a perfect ‘Showbiz’ moment, and I became impelled to reflect on my good fortune as a performer.
As I sat on a step unit in the wings just off stage right, I began to think about the historic Empire Theatre and how many performers it has been home to through the years. I thought, This old vaudeville house sure has seen its share of magic. What a tradition!!
To be a small part of that tradition is a joyous and humbling thing.
I glanced around and saw actors running lines by themselves, possessed of that slightly ‘crazy’ look, evidenced by the downward-directed muttering that we all do when we’re trying ever-so-diligently to whisper our lines letter-perfect.
Our Director, Patti D’Beck, stood in the front row of the audience, commiserating with our Stage Manager, Wendy Vandergrift, as they went over the blueprint for the set design. Wendy was probably saying what I’ve heard her say about a trillion times: We Can Do That. When she says it, she means it.
Our Musical Director, Sandy Dacus was wrapped up warmly in a cute little knit sweater as she played one of the duets for Sky and Sarah on a portable keyboard. Every now and then she’d pop a cookie into her mouth without missing a note.
As Rita Markova’s incredible singing of ‘I’ll Know’ was giving me goosebumps, I scanned the theatre some more.
I looked over to see the dance ensemble running through their choreography in the adjacent wing. Some were spinning, some were watching the action onstage. Even when they are at rest, they look graceful, I thought.
Our ‘Harry The Horse,’ John Winn, was sitting by the stage door, reading a newspaper, dressed in shorts, a T-shirt and a fedora. Two of our walking wounded, Jason Marks and Landon Nagel—one battling severe laryngitis and the other a recent arm injury—were chuckling about something mischievously while running lines together. Great, I thought, Nicely-Nicely can’t talk and Benny can’t move!! What a pair!!
Almost everywhere I looked, I saw smiles. I saw people getting to know one another. I saw friendships blossom and rare talent on display. And not an ‘ego’ in sight.
I looked out into the audience--where a few more cast members were amiably chatting and getting to know one another-- past the tech table, up into the balcony to the vast, welcoming expanse of what is truly one of Richmond’s treasures.
And I felt incredibly lucky.
Lucky to be around such great people. Lucky to be working for a class organization in a historic setting on one of the greatest of All-American musicals. And lucky to be making new friends while doing what I love most in all the world.
This group is a really fun bunch. They make me laugh. I always leave rehearsal smiling. And we’ve only really been around each other a few weeks. I’m really looking forward to this run and the time I’ll spend with my new ‘Summer Family.’
I cannot accurately describe the amount of talent, energy and enthusiasm being infused into this project. You’ll simply have to see it for yourself. Come spend some time with the cast of Guys and Dolls at The Empire Theatre this summer. I can guarantee that, you too, will have a perfect ‘Showbiz moment.’ More I cannot wish you.
Read more from Scott at his blog, www.scottwichmann.blogspot.com