For the last six days, I have been deep Into the Woods. I say that figuratively in that I am not on some sort of vision quest or hiking the AT; I am doing Stephen Sondheim‘s Into the Woods in Chicago. Several months ago my best friend JE asked me to perform Cinderella in a whirlwind six day boards to show production with The Guerilla Project to benefit his school’s performing arts programs. When I heard that I would have the chance to sing with good friends, how could I resist? So I went through all of the craziness of spring while still attempting to learn a musical with the most words I have ever seen and absolutely no entrances on beat one.
Last Sunday we all converged upon the Catherine Cook School in Old Town Chicago and had a run through. I was HORRID. I missed most of my entrances, had no idea what I was doing, and was intimidated within an inch of my life. I told K that I wanted to come home. I was so scared and didn’t know how I could possibly learn and memorize this entire musical within a week.
This week has been one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Rehearsing for 10+ hours each day, putting together costumes, sets, props, and doing all of it on about 5 hours of sleep each night. By Wednesday I thought there was no way it was going to happen. Every scene I was in was stilted by my lack of memory. I have two falls on stage and through repeated practice I have developed an array of bruises and scrapes that rival a rugby player. I felt like my castmates were being let down by me. But, we kept rehearsing and counting and speaking and working through each intricate bit. On Thursday we took a long break and were told no singing or thinking about the show for at least 30 minutes. This made a huge difference. The run through on Thursday night was definitely better than any other rehearsal.
We performed our first two of three shows yesterday. The children’s performance went quite well. The evening full run didn’t go as well, why not skip an entire verse of my solo?! But it was FUN. To paraphrase my character, “to arrive at a (show) is exciting and all once your there though it’s scary!” After the performance, the entire cast enjoyed spending time together with plenty of wine and there was a lovely camaraderie. I no longer felt like the carpet bagger of the cast and more like a valued member of the ensemble.
It has been over ten years since I have been in a musical. It has been almost as long since I sang any kind of significant solo. It has felt so amazing to sing out and perform. I truly do enjoy it and feel quite delighted when I get to look into the stage lights and rip out “On the Steps of the Palace”.
This week has been a tremendous week of highs and lows-musically, physically, and emotionally. It has been incredibly rewarding and I feel as we take the stage for our last night that we have done something pretty amazing. We have put on an incredibly difficult musical in FIVE DAYS. Seriously? Who does that?
We do, we did, and we all live happy ever after!