Monday, November 14, 2011

Nov 25 2011

Rehearsal of Alice:Wonderland. Photographer: Manny Rotenberg. Dancer: Arielle Meads

Woke up today to blasts of Montana winds at the Dude Rancher. Strolled around downtown Billings before I went in to teach company class onstage, then a kids spacing rehearsal and then a run though The Nutcracker with the orchestra.

Actually, I am blogging from my private dressing room (its the laundry room) at the Alberta Bair Theatre. Many of these theatres are not built with the idea that they may need to accommodate large casts. When that happens I often find myself tucked in some nook or cubbyhole to give the rest of the cast room.

Everything went pretty well. The local kids who play the Baby Mice in the production needed some extra coaching. So I spent some time with them. It may not sound like it, but Baby Mice are actually difficult parts that we encourage touring cities NOT to cast. You don't miss them if you don't know they are supposed to be there. They run around the Big Rats and Soldiers in the fight scene. The audience loves them because they are wearing diapers and so tiny, and the little kids all want to play them. But their faces are covered and it can be scary for a 6 or 7 year old (yes, they are LITTLE kids) to be surrounded by smoke. They need to be very smart and extremely well rehearsed or its a safety issue with all the prop swords being swung around the stage. When ever we go to a touring town, my heart always sinks a bit when I hear, "Oh, we cast the Baby Mice." The only thing that can make me more despondent is hearing that they double cast the mice.

Once, we even pre-cast the show in a small town (without Baby Mice) in September and when we showed up in November, the person in charge of the kids told us "Oh by the way, we looked at the video and noticed that there were some Baby Mice, and they were so cute we went ahead and cast them. But they are really nervous."  Aaargh!!!

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