Another opening, another showBy Lea Salonga
Philippine Daily Inquirer
SAN DIEGO, California— Well, here we are … almost.
It’s Sunday and the entire cast (of “Allegiance”) was called in for a clean-up rehearsal at the theater before the 7 p.m. performance. Our days have been spent this way for the last week and a half: rehearsals during the day, a show at night. How we have all managed to not lose our minds is a testament to this company’s focus, determination and desire to put on the best show we can.
Opening night is only a few days away for us (by the time you read this, it’ll have already passed). There is stress and pressure on all fronts, whether you’re with the cast, production staff or creative team. Every single day, we would arrive at the theater knowing that changes are going in, large and small. A list of the agenda of the day is prepared, and item by item, we go down that list, checking off each bit that gets done. Not everything gets completed on some days, which means it gets on the list for the next day.
However, today, we got the hugest piece of news: Our show is now officially frozen. No more changes, no more re-teching for lights, sound, sets or costumes, and no new lyrics. The show is now in the hands of the people that will run it on a daily basis: actors, dressers, conductor and orchestra, spotlight operators, special lighting operators and the crew on deck backstage.
The daily routine is what we are now gearing up for: a show every day from Tuesday to Friday, and two shows each on Saturday and Sunday. It’ll be nice to finally have the chance to settle into the grind.
Oh, who am I kidding … the dance of chaos that takes place backstage, onstage and above the stage is one that I don’t think will ever get settled.
I can’t speak for the lighting guys and gals that live in the rafters above (Jason, Leah, Arita and Tonnie … they each have their lighting plots that can be quite insane, figuring who to light in what scene—imagine this scenario when you have five guys onstage dressed identically), but backstage, what goes on can be a show of its own.
Let’s begin with the deck, the area just immediately offstage which the bright stage lights don’t reach. On each side, be it stage left or stage right, there is an associate stage manager (Evangeline on stage left, Rachel on stage right) who stays in constant headphone communication with the main stage manager (Anjee who is calling the show from out front).
There are stage crew and props people (Trevor, June, Seamus, Christian, James and Dewey, who, I have to point out, wears a different necktie to work every day) who either hand us props, page the black curtains for the actors to pass through or move the large set pieces to where they need to be.
A bit farther offstage are quick change areas set up by the dressers (my dresser is Heather, and others who help with my changes who also dress the other actors are Anna, Susha and Debbie, depending on what needs to get done). There is also a hair person, Melissa, who does all the girls’ wigs, and a sound person, Stephanie, who goes around to check the microphones on each actor when they’re not onstage (Eric is the man who mixes the show).
Everyone onstage and backstage has a very separate plot to follow … a pair of suitcases needs to get set up on stage left before such and such song finishes … rolling panel three will have to be prepped for an actor to push onto the stage … and two dressers are frantically getting someone undressed out of one costume into another, complete with a different pair of shoes and underwear, plus a hair accessory.
Now imagine 20 actors all rushing through quick changes, the crew handling six panels and a staircase, and each actor getting handed or carrying a prepped prop all at the same time … while remaining composed and while singing. On top of that, these said plots keep changing because of a change in the show. And changes do happen every day.
Code of conduct
And yes … there is no place for modesty in the quick change room. Thankfully, the ladies are shielded, as well as respected by the gentlemen in our show. No leering, no peeping, none of that nonsense. There is a code of conduct sheet that gets passed around to everyone working on the production, and it is followed. Anyone that violates this is duly reported.
But, as you can imagine, it’s not all work back there … there are conversations about video games that take place (James is a big Assassin’s Creed fan like I am … can’t wait for the release of AC3) … our props guys are proud of their coffee, and rightfully so: freshly ground beans and a selection of syrups and creamers … Dollar Friday where everyone interested hands in a dollar, and whoever gets picked wins the whole pot … and a football pool that anyone can be part of, betting on NFL games currently under way (there are two people currently tied for the lead, with two games left to play).
We have only until Oct. 21 to enjoy this noisy, active camaraderie; a really fantastic group of individuals coming together to put on a good show. We’re also doubly blessed that each of us comes away with many new friends who will remain so, long after that last note is played.
Break a leg!
To the cast led by Jett Pangan and crew of Atlantis Productions’ newest offering, “Nine,” break a leg! Have yourselves an amazing opening and a fantastic run. And to the show’s director, Bobby Garcia, a belated happy birthday.
Recent Stories:Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.