Christmas: Phase II (Post-Hurricane Sandy).
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the process of mounting a show, the company (cast and crew) builds a sort of momentum that culminates with opening night and is maintained consistently throughout the run of the show. The more we rehearse, the tighter the cast executes their blocking, choreography, and singing; and the crew’s synchronization with set changes, props, light cues, et cetera comes together. (Don’t let the phrase “comes together” fool you, it takes a lot blood, sweat, and tears to get a show like the Radio City Christmas Spectacular ready for the public.)
On Monday, October 29, Hurricane Sandy ravaged New Jersey and New York, leaving millions without power for weeks and countless people along the Jersey and Long Island shore homeless, if not dead. With New York’s public transportation (subways, commuter trains, and buses) shut down for three days, New York City came to a standstill. A city without public transportation may not be a big deal in your town; but in New York where upwards of 75% of the population relies on public transportation to reach and move around Manhattan; when buses, subways, ferries, and bridges are interrupted the city is literally crippled. Everything below 39th Street on Manhattan was in a state of blackout for days. (Some are still without power or a place to live as of this writing, thirteen days later.)
Compared to many, Sandy’s direct impact on my life was negligible. The apartment where I’m staying is more than a hundred city blocks north of Lower Manhattan and power lines are underground, so no one up ever lost electricity. Or gas. The facts that the buildings up here are so close together and my apartment is at the relative rear of the building—if I didn’t know that I was in New York, I would’ve had no idea a hurricane was swirling around outside my front door. But seeing all the televised destruction left in Sandy’s wake made for a few days of emotional and mental angst.
We resumed tech rehearsals three days after Hurricane Sandy made landfall near Atlantic City. Even still, getting to the theater became a logistical challenge for some. Despite everyone’s eagerness to return to work, blocking and tech-ing through individual numbers, then adding costumes, it became apparent to Linda, our director-choreographer, that the casts lost that crispness in performance and sparkle in personality. I have to admit, I felt a certain uneasiness about my run-throughs. Forget that even with 100 or more performances of basically the same production numbers under my belt from the previous year, I found myself making silly mistakes. But it didn’t occur to me that the mandatory three-day Sandy break had anything to do with it.
Linda put the brakes on everything, told us her take on the situation, and had us run the show from start to finish in rehearsal clothes . . . so we could get the show back in our bodies. You know, in an effort for us to regain what we lost over all those days off without the added stress of costumes.
And you know what? It worked.
The casts began to click back into shape. My show felt better, but I still had lingering questions as to whether I had passed my prime as a performer, and if I even still “had it.” By the end of our tech rehearsals and invited dress rehearsal (complete with its real live audience), the answer to those questions stared me square in the face—
I still had it and was back in the game, baby! Without nearly as many slip-ups! And I’d be willing to bet that others felt like they were back in the game, too!
Our fifteen preview shows over the past four days went smoothly, too. Now, in a few hours we’ll officially kick off the 2012 season of the Radio City Christmas Spectacular with an opening night gala. Rumor has it a few of the Rockettes will flip the switch to light the Empire State Building in red, white, and green, to commemorate the show’s opening. While my cast will not perform on opening night, it’ll still be great to sit in the audience amidst cast mates, friends, family, press, Radio City VIPs, and invited guests and support our counterparts in the Blue cast . . . not to mention throw back a couple of drinks, nosh on some hors-d’oeuvres, and blow off some steam.
More on all that in my next post.
Please donate today to the American Red Cross to help those in need impacted by Hurricane Sandy and the nor’easter from North Carolina to Rhode Island.