Letters to Holly

Monday, January 22

Day Twenty-Seven: Second Night

Because we had a late night followed by a party that lasted well into the a.m., the director and thus the managers are worried about show energy. I worry about it for another reason: burnout. This is the eighth show of this week, and once I enter the green room, it feels like I never left. Also, there's a danger of becoming bored once you've proven to yourself that you can handle gaffes. The audience will smell that immediately and pull away from you. All the above threaten to mix tonight, and the director requests a high-energy warm-up session. That's great for the Act I leads who start the show onstage, but the rest of us barely sniff the stage for another hour. Sunday's show -- a dreaded matinée -- is much more likely to see us dragging.

My shirt has lost a button in the wash, but the costume commanders take care of it before the curtain goes up. One of Gooper's sons is chastised by his real mom to behave a certain way onstage, and the kid wrangler interrupts to say only the director gets to do that. My eyeliner pencil proves too soft to sharpen conveniently, and I notice Big Daddy has the perfect pencils for this, but I won't ask to use it. That's risking infections. So I'll have to say something I never thought I would: "Honey, can you buy me some eyeliner?"

Once the show starts, all seems well until the first offstage phone scene. There are three of them, one in each act, and since Thursday night, someone different has manned the button. The rings happen in different times and for different durations, and tonight, the Act I ring is super early and goes on for days. Big Mama heads toward the phone before her cue is spoken by another assistant. I don't understand why why the phone is given to people who can't be there for the entire run. I wonder what Gooper's phone cues would be like if I weren't standing right there to answer it. This is just one of the things we have to be ready to adapt to in front of everyone. Also, right at the end of Act II, as four guys and the stage-right manager start to sing "Pick a Bail of Cotton" onstage, the bar band across the street cranks up. We do not sing to the beat, but the doctors tries some pop-and-lock, I believe.

Speaking of which, the doctor botches his Act III lines as he gets distracted by, well, I'm not sure, but I think it's a cigar Big Daddy left onstage. The cigar is fake (we didn't smoke in the show, after all), and it sits in an ashtray in the very back of the set. Right as Mae, Gooper, and the doctor are to surround Mama about Daddy, the doc stays behind and fiddles with the cigar and misses his cue. I have my back to him. It's only later that I figure out what he's doing over there, but I wait for him to say his lines. And wait. And wait. Right as I'm about to pipe in, he starts up. But then he misses his second line, not ten seconds later. He's lost now. And Mae is covering for this until he finds his place and joins in the scene. After the show, the stage manager gives notes about the scene to the doctor and me, and the director talks to him about the moment. I didn't jump in quickly enough, I admit. That won't happen again.

A good crowd tonight. Tomorrow, we get the Blue Hairs and finish the week o'hell.

Previous entries:
Day One: Reading It Through
Day Two: Act Two
Day Three: Reading Act Two
Day Four: Talking It Through
Day Five: Blocking Act Two
Day Six: Act Two Redux
Day Seven: Reading Act Three
Day Eight: The Da Gooper Code
Day Nine: The Laying On of Hands
Day Ten: Pictures and Pages
Day Eleven: Onstage
Day Twelve: Memory
Day Thirteen: The Quickie
Day Fourteen: The Lines
Day Fifteen: Act III Anxiety
Day Sixteen: Let's Just Get It Right
Day Seventeen: Molding the Gooper
Day Eighteen: Goopercalypse
Day Nineteen: There Is Not A Doctor In The House
Day Twenty: Back to Words
Day Twenty-One: Getting Technical
Day Twenty-Two: We're Ready When You Are
Day Twenty-Three: Socks
Day Twenty-Four: Our First Audience
Day Twenty-Five: Calamity
Day Twenty-Six: Opening Night

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