The first big change for the night was the use of the downstairs locker rooms. This is a golf clubhouse, and we four actors have plenty of space to hang our clothes and prepare for the show. There are two closed-circuit TVs that will supposedly show us the stage, but they never work. That means we have to change clothes quickly and linger backstage so we don't miss a cue. To get downstairs, we have to exit an exterior door and walk down to the locker area. The stage room is set at a blazing 72 degrees; that doesn't take into account the lights, costumes, make-up, and desperate movement. We are roasting. And then we walk outside, into sparkling cold air, and back into a toasty locker room.
I'm complaining a bit. Just a bit. I wish we had practiced a few times using these rooms; I don't like introducing new stuff so soon to the first show. As it is, we're given new directions on using the lights within a minute of taking the stage. The light crew is not working out well, and the director is going to kill kill kill, if this show tumbles into farce because of independently activating lamps and chandeliers. I don't know what the problem is there; they're on the opposite side of the room, and we don't chat. During the show, lights will suddenly dim or fade brighter as the crew become confused about switches or timing or, oh, I don't know. The director has worked with them for almost a week now, and I think he'll wind up running the lights himself.
We huddle onstage before we open the curtain for a surprisingly serious pep talk. The cast tries to keep the atmosphere light, but the director's not having it. He's got too much to juggle here, so we follow his lead and get to work. It goes OK. Some lines are missed and jumbled but nothing major. The props are all where we need them. The coffee table is strangely close to the couch, and I nudge it out gradually through the first act.
I realized just last night that the reason I have the excess energy is because I'm drinking so much tea and Coke onstage; I'm caffeinated. It kept me from sleeping Wednesday night, and I thought I had a fever. Also, the show is a workout. I'm sweating something awful up there; I brought my shirts home to wash before Friday's first audience.
The crowd tonight is small and polite. They snicker a bit at the murderer in a wig, but that's to be expected. He has 20 people coming for the first night, and they might easily turn this into a comedy. If they're watching him as the actor and not the character, he'll seem ridiculous. As it is, I can't tell you how good a show we've got here. It feels like a cumbersome whale; I'm actually relieved when we accidentally drop a half-page of dialogue tonight. All that information is mentioned again later on anyway. Two older women admit they don't understand the imaginary murder scene, despite the use of a dreamy light and sound effect, adding the line "use your imagination, and bookending the scene with no time lost in the original scene. Fuck 'em. We spell it out to a grade-school level.
Because of the the script, I look at my correctly set wristwatch during the first Act and realize "Lost" is about to come on and then I'm mentally yelling at myself to stop thinking about "Lost." I still have 15 pages to go before intermission. When I get home and watch the show on TiFaux, the local affiliate has lost its sound, and I read the blessed captioning before crashing in bed near 1 a.m. We open tomorrow, and we actors, at least, are ready.