Tag Archives: Cast

The Latest 10-18-15

After a long business/leisure trip to Texas the week before, I was really glad to spend the past week at home and in the home office. Autumn is in full swing with chilly, blustery winds balanced only by the sun’s warmth. The house has been really cool in the mornings as temps dipped for the first time into the 30’s. Wendy and I have not yet turned on the heat, but the fireplaces have gotten their first workouts of the season.

The week was blessedly routine as Wendy and I worked at our home offices and took care of things around the house. Our lawn has been looking decent despite weeks with no rain. We’ve tried to water it well, but I haven’t been able to do that as much as it really needs (nor have I wanted to pay for that high of a water bill).

The week was really highlighted by October baseball with our Cubs beating the evil empire of St. Louis in the NLDS. By the end of the final game Wendy and I couldn’t sit down. We were both standing behind the couch watching and cheering. When it was over we invited our neighbor, Kevin, over for celebratory toasts. Of course, by Sunday night we’d be 0-2 in the NLCS to the Mets (whom we had swept in the regular season). Such is the life of a Cubs fan.

Wendy was my stylish assistant and carried the camera bag for me!
Wendy was my stylish assistant and carried the camera bag for me!

2015 10 16 Roose Family Photo 057

On Friday afternoon Wendy and I headed to Des Moines. Our friends Kevin and Becky asked if I would take some fall family photos for them. We had some fun at Des Moines’ sculpture garden. The featured photo to this post is the them striking their own version of Greek god statues. Wendy played my faithful assistant, lugging my bag and tripod, as we ran around Des Moines trying to get photos taken before the sun set. After dropping the kidlets off at home, the adults then went out for a meal. Enjoyable evening.

Wendy and I had some post-show fun with cast and crew from NCT's productions of "Ham Buns and Potato Salad."
Wendy and I had some post-show fun with cast and crew from NCT’s productions of “Ham Buns and Potato Salad.”

IMG_6961Saturday afternoon Wendy and I headed to Newton to watch Newton Community Theatre’s production of my play Ham Buns and Potato Salad (more about the play here) There was a brief “meet the playwright” time before the show and the audience got to ask me questions. It was so much fun to see the show done by a completely different crew. Wendy and I walked away pleased that the script held up well. We went to Okoboji Grill after the show with the cast and had a lot of fun fielding their questions about the characters and inspirations for the story. They called on me to write a sequel to tell the rest of the story. I hadn’t really thought about that before. Hmmmm. I also heard rumor there is some interest from another community theatre who would like to do it.

On Sunday morning I filled the pulpit for our senior pastor, delivering the message in all three services. I always feel honored to be asked. It’s a rather draining morning, however, and I was so appreciative of Wendy who took good care of me and made sure I had what I needed. Needless to say, I was worthless by the time we got home. We became avid couch potatoes to watch our Vikings and Broncos win, then to watch our Cubbies disappoint.

Preparing for a Role: Ready for Performance!

The pre-battle speech is an icon of literature, stage and film. From Shakespeare’s Henry V admonishing his band of brothers on the field of Agincourt to William Wallace admonishing his Scottish army to Knute Rockne encouraging his boys to “win one for the Gipper.” Most of us have experienced the mental preparation and psyche up before we are to participate in a big event.

Performance on stage is no different. Weeks of preparation on Ah, Wilderness!, hours of tedious rehearsal, and the combined efforts of a small army of cast and crew culminate this week in just four performances. Every stage troupe has their own unique pre-curtain rituals. Some are very ritualistic and others are more loose. It’s been fun for me to enjoy being part of the pre-show ritual with the Theatre Central cast this week.

Each actor is given his or her “call” time by the Stage Manager(s). This is the time you are required to arrive and begin the make-up process. For Ah, Wilderness!, some of the ladies have more time consuming hair preparations for that 1906 coiffure, so their call is earlier than most of the cast. My call has been one hour before curtain, so I have arrived at the Kruidenier Theatre Center on the campus of Central College about 6:30 each night. Hair and make-up is the first order of business.

Me and Jake Anderson getting ready in make-up alley.
Me and Jake Anderson getting ready in make-up alley.

I start with wetting down and plastering my hair with goop to get that slicked back look. Then apply make-up. The harsh, bright stage lights tend to wash out natural complexion, so stage make-up helps to balance this out. Foundation, eye-liner, rouge, highlights and wrinkle lines are applied and then powdered. Yes, I do this myself. Most stage veterans learn the process and take responsibility for their own basic stage make-up. It’s generally only  when more complex make-up techniques are required that a make-up artist is brought in. The hair and make-up time is also a social time. Actors do this together, music is generally playing and there’s a lot of good natured joking and jovial conversation going on.

It’s during this period that Stage Managers also remind actors to “check props.”  It is ultimately the actors responsibility to make sure the items you need on stage are where they are supposed to be. Once in make-up, I put on the iPod ear buds. Since college my requisite pre-show psych up has begun with the Talking Head’s Psycho Killer followed by Burning Down the House a ritual I picked up from my roommate and senior theatre classmate, Kirk Anderson and one that I’ve never altered. Even thespians have their superstitious rituals. With music cranked and adrenaline beginning to pump through my veins, I check to make sure that cigars, handkerchiefs, newspapers, reading glasses, and hat are all where they need to be on stage and back stage.

Warm-ups!
Warm-ups!

It’s now about 30-40 minutes before curtain. I head to the studio theatre next to make-up alley where I begin to stretch and continue to let the Talking Head’s pump me up. Pretty soon the rest of the cast wander in along with Stage Manager(s) and Director, Ann Wilkinson. The cast forms a circle and we go through a series of physical and vocal warm ups. Soft stretches and tongue twisters are primary as we get our bodies loose and our mouths ready for reciting our lines. Here are a few we’ve done this week (try saying each 4-5 times in rapid succession):

  • Unique New York
  • Irish Wristwatch
  • Aluminum Linoleum
  • Geranium Chrysanthemum
  • Bears eat beets on Battlestar Galactica
  • A box of biscuits. A box of mixed biscuits. A biscuit mixer.

As I mentioned earlier, each stage troupe has their own unique rituals. Ann Wilkinson enjoys an exercise of “singing the theatre alive” which is based on a tribe in Africa who each year gather to “sing the forest alive” by chanting/singing the same phrase over and over and over for an entire week. We divide into groups and perform the chant (phonetically: Ah-mah-ee-boo-oh-ee-ay) in a round with each group choosing a different physical action to complement their vocals.

We then will get our pre-show speech in a quick word of encouragement from the Director and/or Stage Managers along with the occasional instructions or reminders before being dismissed to get into costume. I go into the Costume Room and pull my costume from its place on the rack and head to the locker room to change with the other actors. By the time the costume is on the Stage Managers are generally calling for “places” and it’s time to head through the back stage entrance to take our places for the start of the show.

Cast photo taken after Dress Rehearsal.
Cast photo taken after Dress Rehearsal.

It’s been an enjoyable run. We’ve had good audiences and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed working with the exceptional young people and profs at Central. Thanks to everyone at Central for their cooperation and support. Thanks to family and friends who have come out to see the show. Tonight is the final performance and the curtain will close another production. There is always a bittersweet feeling with closing night. While I’m ready to have my evenings and weekends back, there is a sense of loss as I think of the fun and camaraderie I’ve enjoyed in the past weeks.

Next up for Wendy and me is another production of The Dominie’s Wife for the Pella Opera House during Pella’s Tulip Time. It will be Wendy’s third production of the show and my second. We’ll begin production meetings next week. Stay tuned!

Preparing for a Role: Production Week

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

In a stage production, the final week before opening night is generally referred to as “Production Week.” It’s the home stretch when all of the various elements of the show must come together before that first performance. My previous posts have been about my role as an actor, but much of what makes the actors look good on stage is dependent on an invisible army of people who work long, hard hours preparing things like:

  • Lights
  • Curtains
  • Audio/Sound Effects
  • Set
  • Flies (Set pieces that can be “flown” in and out via pulleys)
  • Scene changes
  • Costumes
  • Make-up
  • Hair styling
  • Props (all of the things people handle on stage)

A good stage production is a symphony of various individuals and teams all playing their part for the good of the whole. Production week often starts with a rehearsal called “Cue-to-Cue.” In this rehearsal, the actors take a back seat so that all of the lighting, sound effects, scene changes, and curtain cues can be rehearsed and set. A Stage Manager is typically the person tasked to “call the show” which means they have their headset on and are connected to all of the crew members around the theatre. They follow the script, the action on stage, and all of the outlined cues to make sure that everything happens exactly when it’s supposed to happen.

Our Cue-to-Cue rehearsal for Ah, Wilderness took place this past Saturday. Actors reported for a 9:00 a.m. “call” to be ready and on-stage. Actors were instructed to bring homework or something to read because there is a lot of sitting around quietly waiting for the technical crew as they adjust lights, sounds, flies, and sets. In stead of running entire scenes, in a Cue-to-Cue you run “cues.” I had to leave the rehearsal at 4:00 p.m. for a previously scheduled engagement, but the rehearsal went on for a few more hours and I’m sure some crew were there late into the night making adjustments.

Let me give you an example of the types of things you work in a Cue-to-Cue.  In the first act of Ah, Wilderness! there are a number of sound cues that call for exploding firecrackers. The sound effects are a combination of recorded sounds and live blank rounds fired backstage. To practice these cues, the actors will start with a line or two ahead of where a sound cue is to take place in the script. The person responsible for making the sound will practice their timing. Typically we will run the same couple of lines over and over again until the director is satisfied that the crew has it right and the cue is “set.” The director then announces “Moving on!” You then skip to the next cue in the script which might be several pages of dialogue later.

Cue-to-Cue can be a booger of a rehearsal to get through, especially for actors who do a lot of sitting around. The rehearsal is critical, however. The last thing you want is for technical problems to disrupt the flow of a performance. You don’t want a cue for a trolly bell to be a marching band instead. A dropped cue for a firecracker shot means the actors line about the firecracker (which the audience didn’t hear) suddenly doesn’t make sense. A long scene change can wear an audience’s patience thin. You get the picture.

Production week continues with Dress Rehearsals in which you run the show exactly as you would during a performance. Our first Dress Rehearsal was yesterday afternoon and it was the first time for actors to be in (almost) full costume and make-up. Dress Rehearsals are the last chance for everyone to get their lines and cues right and to polish up scenes which need some touching up before an audience sees it. Typically the director will not stop a Dress Rehearsal for anything less than an emergency. Then, after the rehearsal and after the cast get out of their costumes, the cast and crew gather for “notes.” The director, legal pad and pencil in hand, will go through and try to decipher all of the notes they took down to give to actors and crew.

Production week is also a good time to blow off some steam. Everyone has been working long, hard hours and a little fun before performance can help keep everyone loose. So, Wendy and I invited the cast, Stage Managers, and the Theatre Profs from Central over for a little pizza and Oscars party at our house. Wendy whipped up a cheesecake and some cupcakes and we packed our little house with twenty-some guests. A good time was had by all. If it’s one thing theatre people know how to do – it’s have fun (and eat).

Two more Dress Rehearsals. We open on Wednesday. Here we go!

Production & Ticket information for Ah, Wilderness!

 

Chapter-a-Day John 19

When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they divided his clothes among the four of them. They also took his robe, but it was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom. John 19:23 (NLT)

I’ve always found this little trivial detail in John’s first-hand account of these events fascinating. Jesus had few possessions and encouraged his followers to do the same. The robe he wore, however, was unique enough that it was desired by all the soldiers and worth gambling over. Seamless and woven in one piece, it was not a cheap robe.

It is clear that Jesus’ travels and ministry were funded by donations from wealthy followers. I find it likely that the robe was a gift, perhaps from a grateful follower whose love one was healed by Jesus. We’ll never know for sure. Like so many nuggets of history, we can only make an educated guess.

I don’t find any great spiritual insight into this fact. I just find it fascinating that Jesus’ lone earthly possessions, the clothes on his back, appear to have been clothes of superior quality in that day. Jesus was certainly not a slave to fashion and He shunned earthly possessions. At the same time, He was certainly not dressed in rags.