Monday, June 26, 2006

And just like that it's over. Months of rehearsing, months of stretching my voice, stretching myself, building up anticipation, nervousness, excitement...then Poof! After an intense, exhilarating few days on stage, the performance disappears into the ether. Theater is such an ephemeral art, such a fleeting in-the-moment experience. I feel a bit feel bereft today; I find myself bursting into tears at odd moments. It's hard to believe that I will no longer be slipping into Annie Oakley's sassy skin. I know the experience of becoming her will stay with me, though--she has changed my life, changed my idea of who I am, what I am capable of.

The shows went better than I ever could have imagined. I have been overwhelmed by the response--so much gushing and glowing. So much beautiful support. Each of the five shows had a very different vibe--the first one was probably the most thrilling for me, since it was so new (especially since it was the first time we did a complete run-through! We only did portions of the show during dress rehearsal, never the whole thing in succession.) Before I went on stage, I felt such a surge of energy through my body. I thought I was going to throw up or jump out of my skin or fly all the way into the rafters. The throwing-up feeling went away, but a tingling aliveness stayed with me that whole evening.

Before the show opened, I told people I didn't care if the show was a disaster--I had already gained so much from the process. A few little disasters did happen, but they made the experience even more enjoyable; we had to learn to roll with the punches, to ad lib, to think on our feet and go with the flow. Here are some moments from my own personal blooper reel:

--The first show, I could feel my petticoat slipping down my legs during the wedding scene. When I finally felt it pooling at my feet under my wedding dress, I waited for a swell in the music and then kicked the petticoat off with gusto. Later, many people from the audience told me they thought I was supposed to do that. It was definitely an Annie move--she wouldn't want to fuss with such frippery.

--Another wardrobe malfunction: at my first show on Saturday, I put one of my dresses on backwards during a very quick change. I realized this just as I stepped out onto the stage. I felt moved to acknowledge it somehow because I wasn't sure how obvious it was to the audience, so when one of the characters said "Frank Butler's got her head turned clear around", I replied "Clear around. And my dress, too!" The director later said I shouldn't have called attention to the clothes, but my fellow cast members loved it.

--During the Sunday matinee, the background track for "Doin' What Comes Naturally" skipped to the beginning of the song about five verses in. I felt a little flustered at first, but my "siblings" and I somehow made it work. In the same song during the later performance that day, I banged my five year old "brother" in the head with my elbow by accident, and couldn't stop myself from bursting into giggles. It's hard to sing and giggle at the same time, but not impossible, I found.

--I had all sorts of microphone issues during the run of the show. For the dress rehearsal, I had a microphone clipped to my costume, but my many costume changes resulted in some erratic mic placement, so the sound guy decided I should have a mic hooked over my ear. The rig had a slender skin-colored tube that stretched from my ear toward my mouth; it made me look a bit like I had a scar across my face. It was taped to my cheek and clipped to my hair, but it still kept coming undone. My duck call got all tangled in it during one number, and it took a while to free it. Sweat would make the tape slip off, and dancing would make the hair clips pop open, and I could feel the mic flopping against my skin, and unhooking from my ear, and I had to keep adjusting it during a few of the performances. During the last performance, the sound guy finally found the perfect combination of surgical tape and metal hair clips to keep it in place. Luckily, that was the performance that was filmed!

At the end of each performance day, I was both tired and wired, spent and jazzed. I still feel that way. Annie Get Your Gun was one of the most unexpected, life changing adventures I have ever embarked upon. I am so grateful for it has given me (including a wonderful group of new friends. I am going to miss the community we created together.) When we were in the rehearsal process, I told myself that this was going to be my only foray onto the stage, but now I find myself looking forward to my next theatrical journey, whatever and whenever it may be. I know I need to buckle down and focus on my novel in progress for the rest of the year--I haven't had a chance to do much writing lately--but the writing life seems awfully quiet now. I look forward to seeing how the Annie experience will seep onto the page, how it will affect the way I move through the world...

1 comment:

Susan said...

Gayle- it sounds wonderful. I wish I could have seen it. What a great life experience for you.