Posted by Bruce Miller
At last night’s rehearsal for Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, I made the decision to delay the Opening of our summer musical by one week. Dirty Rotten will now open on Friday, June 24. The performances scheduled for Fri June 17, Sat June 18, Sun June 19, Wed June 22, and Thurs June 23 all will take place as originally planned, but they are being converted to Half-Price Previews.
As much as we would prefer not to change plans mid-stream, about once every three or four years it becomes advisable to do just that. Delaying the Opening of a show that isn’t quite ready is a national, responsible practice. The last time it happened to us was a few years back with our revival of The Wizard of Oz. The last time a delayed Opening at another theatre affected me personally was earlier this season when, on the day I was scheduled to drive to D. C. to see the first performance of Oklahoma at Arena Stage, I received a call from the box office (I’m an Arena subscriber) advising me that Oklahoma wasn’t ready to open and therefore that evening’s performance had been cancelled.
What does it mean when we say a show isn’t ready? Theatre is a collaboration, and when a production goes smoothly, all partners in that collaboration are able to work effectively, quickly and in sync with each other. Sometimes, especially with complex shows like Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, the creative partners need an extra few days to get in sync. Maybe the costumes, lights and sound are ready, but the set and props haven’t quite caught up. We’re making art here, not widgets.
Whenever production elements approach completion at slightly different times, it causes actors and/or musicians to lose focus. Last night, I could tell that our terrific cast was unable to concentrate fully on their performances because they were still somewhat unsure as to what exactly was going on behind or beside them. There are two turntables in the show, countless flies, giant panels that move on from stage left and right, several hundred costumes, a free moving giant staircase completely dependent on working hydraulic casters, and a singing/dancing/running cast and crew of close to thirty.
As of today, these talented, hard working theatre pros still have not had a single run through of either act during which the stage manager hasn’t had to stop the proceedings cold. Last night, when one of the hydraulic casters on the giant staircase blew out with a loud pop and hiss in the middle of a set change, I knew it was time for me to step in and give this terrific cast and crew just a little more time.
I can’t ask or expect talented actors to place all their focus on their performances when, for safety’s sake, they still have to direct some of their focus on the two ton unit that is barreling toward them from off stage left.
The show will go on tomorrow night, and I’m confident that audience members who choose to attend the Half-Price Previews will have a great time. But I’ll feel a lot better knowing that the pressure has been lessened, and all involved will now have the chance to participate in several successful run throughs before knocking it out of the park on Opening Night.
If you are holding tickets for one of these Half-Price Previews, and would like to exchange for a later performance, please call our box office at 282-2620. Of if you decide to come and be part of the exciting process, be ready just in case the stage manager has to holler “Stop!” Also, please know that we are endlessly grateful for your understanding and support. Best of all, if you paid full price, a $25 voucher is on its way covering more than half of your original purchase price.
Special thanks to all the talented artists involved with Dirty Rotten Scoundrels for continuing to be just as dirty, rotten and scoundrel-ous as any producer could want. When you Break a Leg on Opening, I pray it will be metaphorical.