After casting 43 men, women, teenagers and children, Lisa Blanton (choreographer), Ryan Deal (music director) and I decided on a priority order of musical numbers to be rehearsed—starting with the most difficult. We then made a spreadsheet of all the existing conflicts of cast members. Then we began to create a rehearsal schedule to minimize the effects of absences, while taking into account our musical priority list. The typical rehearsal week at Theatre Charlotte is Sunday night through Thursday night.
There was another obstacle in the crafting of the rehearsal schedule. For the first week of a 5 week rehearsal period, we were not going to be able to use the stage, as an entire new rigging system was being installed. So, we scheduled vocal rehearsals the entire first week, with the cast members learning all the songs, harmonies and dynamics.
In the second week we began staging musical numbers, beginning with the most difficult movement—“Shipoopi.” Ryan Deal also doubles as rehearsal pianist. While Lisa was choreographing and didn’t need the piano, Ryan would dash to the green room and work vocals with the actors playing Ewart, Oliver, Jacey and Olin—the barbershop quartet.
Also, during the second week, I worked on character development with Harold Hill, Marian the Librarian, Winthrop Paroo, Mrs. Paroo, Mayor Shinn, Eulalie Mackecknie Shinn, Alma Hix, Maud Dunlop, Mrs. Squires and others. I also began blocking the scenes that lead into and out of songs, as well as a small number of solo or small, non-dance numbers.
The installation of the new rigging system not only delayed the start of blocking and staging rehearsals, it also delayed the start of set construction. Chris Timmons, our technical director, began building the various components of the set during the second week of the rehearsal process. THE MUSIC MAN is quite a large production for our relatively small stage area.
This is a very dedicated, committed, energetic cast that can truly sing! And when not on stage rehearsing something, they are in the lobby working on sharpening dance numbers or in the green room working on vocals. I believe the fun part of theatre is in the process and the cast is having fun working and creating together. In a very short time, we have created a wonderful ensemble of very diverse people. In essence, we have created our perception of the townspeople of River City, iowa and that slick traveling salesman/pied piper, Harold Hill.
Check out the short “Shipoopi” rehearsal video on the Theatre Charlotte Facebook page. Watch and enjoy this talented cast work on this big production number. It should make you smile! And the woman who falls at the end of the number—well, that’s my wife and she’s supposed to do that. She suffers this indignity with grace and humor!
Director, THE MUSIC MAN at Theatre Charlotte
THE MUSIC MAN runs September 9th through 25th at Theatre Charlotte. Tickets can be purchased through CarolinaTix at (704) 372-1000 or online at http://www.carolinatix.org/default.asp?tix=59&objId=2565