After months of rehearsals, backbreaking work getting the set design, lighting design, and stage management just right…after months of grueling memorization, characterization, painstakingly producing and directing the show, it finally all came together.
At this point, the cast and crew of I’m Not Rappaport are a family. It is difficult for people who have never been involved in theater to conceive of this situation. These people who have worked side by side with each other have become close friends. It shows in the cameraderie of the crew and the little nuances in the cast’s interactions onstage. It shows when the director talks about the show after each performance and she has to choke back tears because the vision is now reality.
As Center Players’ company blogger (and occasional house manager) I visited rehearsals once a week and witnessed a metamorphosis from “cold” readings to “getting comfortable” with the role to full-blown, inspiring performances from everyone in the cast. Ray Sammak and Ray Dothard have a friendly chemistry and rivalry between them that is wonderful to witness. Lindsay Wagner and Danielle Capolon, who share the role of Laurie, say the same lines but each brings her own individuality to the role. Ricky Selterman, known for his friendliness and sense of humor, is thoroughly enjoying playing the mean and nasty Cowboy because he was definitely not typecasted! Mark Peters and Anthony Woodcock are novice actors and both have learned so much in such a short period of time; they are doing so well with their roles. Lisa DeLeo as Clara depicts the love for her father combined with worry and anguish and an affection that feels very real.
Sami, our newbie techie, writes about her experience, “…you can feel the excitement in the theatre. Even MORE exciting, I finally got the hang of the lighting board! Page 84 doesn’t look that intimidating anymore. I felt more confident and was able to breathe during the run of the show! It was great! Watching it tonight with an audience was an amazing experience, as it always is for shows. Yeah, it was funny before, but with an audience you see it through their eyes and find things funny that may or may not have seemed funny before. And now that I’ve got the lighting board down, I feel I can really enjoy the show.”
Yes, the audience is an integral part of the theater experience for the actors. The audience adds to the theatrical energy. A great audience, one that responds to the action onstage, can improve the show because the actors feel this energy, absorb it, which, in turn, improves their performance. The crew is also affected by the presence of the audience and the energy hones their performance too.
Sami writes about talking to the audience after the final dress rehearsal: “It was lovely to be able to sit with them (the cast) tonight onstage. I felt the family feeling come together as we sat there, basking in the glow of the stagelights, enjoying the appreciation of the audience, and listening to the wonderful things our director, Bernice had to say about it.”
Frankly, I can’t wait for this weekend so I can witness theatrical magic again!