Posted by Bruce Miller
A fabulous time was had last night at the first preview of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. The show's not quite all that it's going to be yet, but it's highly entertaining, on the road to dazzling, and pretty damned impressive, I think, for a homegrown production in a community the size of ours.
Did I make the right decision to delay Opening by a week and convert this weekend's existing performances into Half-Price Previews? Others will make that decision, not me.
Last night was the first time we were able to run through the show without stopping. The set changes are complicated, to say the least. Night before last, our world-class stage manager, Ginnie Willard, wisely stopped the show five times. Safety is her number one concern, and God bless her for that.
On Wednesday night, when I made the decision to delay Opening immediately following Act One, Ginnie stopped the show maybe ten times.
Here's my bottom line. I will never ask a cast and crew to jump to full performance level in a show this complex before they've had the chance to run through it several times without stopping. Call me crazy, but please don't call me reckless.
I greatly appreciate all the kind comments from audience members last night who loved the show and couldn't see any reason why I changed the first week to previews. I too thought the show went really well. I couldn't be more proud of our directors, stage managers, cast, orchestra and crew. I also think the entire team was more able to do their best work because they knew the pressure was off.
Everyone, including last night's audience, knew that Ginnie was fully empowered to stop at any moment if she felt anything less than fully in control. That knowledge, I believe, leant a lot of freedom to the proceedings. The cast was able to relax and have fun--because they knew they were safe.
Which leads me to my other bottom line. I'm not going to ask any audience to pay full price for a performance when there's a likelihood that the stage manager will have to stop the show. By next Friday, that likelihood will be reduced to close to zero. At that point, let the full price performances commence!
So how did we get in this situation? We're a live theatre. We're ambitious. We make art. These things happen.
I'm not going to place blame on anyone, but for those who want to place blame, I'm happy to offer this opinion. When a show isn't ready on time, nine times out of ten it's because of deficiencies in planning and budget. Both of those key components are controlled by the producers. At Barksdale, that's me and Phil Whiteway--please excuse my bad grammar.
I'm happy this morning. And proud. And excitedly looking forward to a fun and prosperous summer. I'm glad that Barksdale continues to be ambitious, to bite off more than we reasonably can be expected to chew. I'm crazy about our audience, 95% of whom are supportive and caring, fun-loving and adventurous. I'm grateful to be working in a theatre community like ours, where the vast majority of theatre artists actively route for each other's success.
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is off to a promising start. The critics will weigh in next Friday and I can't wait. Let the good times roll!