A rousing welcome at the Old GlobeBy Lea Salonga
SAN DIEGO, California—The weekend is over, and our precious day off has finally arrived. Suffice it to say that the cast, crew, creative and production teams of the musical play “Allegiance” are exhausted, able to exist with the help of many cups of freshly brewed strong coffee.
On Sept. 7, “Allegiance” premiered with a sold-out audience at the Old Globe Theater. The audience, composed of longtime “Allegiance” fans, friends and family, was incredibly receptive. The ovation at the end was wonderful to receive, a lovely reward for all our hard work.
What took nearly four years of percolating was now finally here—costumed, staged and orchestrated for real. All the table readings, pizza readings, public readings, the New York workshop, and hours and hours of writing, rewriting, gathering investors, traveling and performing have all come to this moment.
The few days leading up to our first public performance were filled with rehearsals in the theater, both in costume and without. The whole cast would be called in at around noon to rehearse certain scenes in the afternoon, then attempt a full run with costumes, sets, and the orchestra all happening at the same time.
We wouldn’t always complete the rehearsal, having to skip past parts because the orchestra’s time was very precious. But we’d make sure to hit the more important sections—all the main songs, dance numbers, complicated transitions and underscoring.
We’d call it a day at 11 p.m., physically and mentally tired, with dreams of hot baths, deep tissue massages, or ice on our more pained body parts.
On Thursday night, we had our final dress rehearsal with all the elements put together: lights, sound, projections, sets, props, costumes, makeup, staging, choreography, music, and the actors onstage singing, acting and dancing their faces off.
All went without a hitch. Although we didn’t have ourselves an audience outside of the Old Globe family, it was a great experience to get the show into our bodies, without once stopping due to technical difficulties.
At our first preview on Friday night, we had to delay for about 15 minutes due to technical difficulties. Something happened with a couple of our larger set pieces, not because they were inherently malfunctioning (they worked fine from Saturday onward). But such is life, things do happen.
The show continued, a testimony to the commitment of the actors on stage, with stage management figuring out alternate set pieces and the stage crew working backstage. I think we made the powers-that-be very proud. As triumphant as it felt, however, we knew that our work on shaping the show wasn’t over yet.
Saturday and Sunday morning were spent at the theater, working on little adjustments, changes, and discussing notes taken at the previous performance. Little things that added up to a lot were done during the daylight hours, with changes going in that same night.
The preview period was the only time that the creative team had to implement new dialogue, monologues, lyrics, choreography, staging, lighting, projections, costumes and props.
On Sunday evening, even before any of us got out of costume, 11 brand-new pages were placed on our dressing tables. A couple of scenes were going to be completely reworked or rendered nonexistent, and some new lyrics for the whole cast to sing were introduced.
As I write this on our day off, Monday, it looked like we’ll still be working today, but at home.
Many of us who have worked on original musicals know the process of the preview period, how taxing it can be on everyone. It’s a stressful time, but something we’re all prepared to tackle. All we need is humor and each other, and plenty of coffee.
Before “Allegiance,” I wasn’t familiar with the Old Globe, so I was pleasantly surprised to see such a lovely and well laid-out complex.
The Conrad Prebys Theater Center, located at Balboa Park in San Diego, consists of three theaters: Old Globe (where “Allegiance” is currently in previews), the Lowell Davis Festival Theater (currently in repertory on this stage: “As You Like It,” “Richard III,” and “Inherit the Wind”), and the Sheryl & Harvey White Theater (where “God of Carnage” played until Sept. 2).
The three theaters share a common dressing room area and green room. It’s fun, as one can see actors from three simultaneously running productions in conversation with one another. George Takei’s (“Allegiance”) dressing room is right beside Robert Foxworth’s (“Inherit the Wind”). Telly Leung has been seen chatting with Happy Anderson over coffee in the green room (Happy is playing in all the Festival shows; how on earth he does it, I have no idea).
The box office handles all the shows in the complex, and the three theaters share a common courtyard. It’s nice to sit out there while having dinner, just to people-watch. The weather these days has been quite perfect.
Not a bad place to spend the autumn, eh?
“Allegiance” plays at the Old Globe until Oct. 21. For more information, visit oldglobe.org and allegiancemusical.com.
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