Whenever heading into a new production, usually there is the “read through.” It is rough at best, as much “cold reading” by the actors is being done. But it does help to get to know your current team of actors. I tend to look up from the script and watch the other actors reading just to see who they are, how they read, and solidify in my mind who is playing which role. Every director is different in their approach to directing a musical. When directing, I move very swiftly, pushing through the entire show in a few rehearsals and getting rough blocking done. I find this incredibly helpful in the memorization for lines for the actors.They can “see” the thoughts more and associate them with the movements and staging. I am not the quickest study when it comes to memorization, but I KNOW getting the book out of my hand helps immensely. The sooner you put the script down, the more you can begin physicality, and connecting with the other actors. I love run throughs after run throughs when I direct. The flow and process is tedious if you keep stopping. I give detailed notes to each actor, and I tell them TO WRITE THEM DOWN..so as not to have to repeat myself.
Rehearsals can be laborious for those in the ensemble when scene work is being done, so I try to not call them in when working through scenes they are not in. The magic and moments that evolve as actors create give me a certain buzz. The moments in between the lines when they are listening, or the moments when they “fill,” if there is some underscoring, sometimes just cannot be taught. A real actor knows how to think the character, and know what they would do. Just waiting to sing as the intro is played is integral. Sometimes I have to literally give a novice actor something to do, as they haven’t developed the skill of filling every moment. By tech week, I hope to have had run throughs for a full week at least..including the curtain call! I never stage that the night before we open. To me, the curtain call is a scene in itself, and I treat it that way, having blocked it weeks in advance.
Tech week, to some, can be hellacious, but if scene stages have been well planned, and staging for moving set pieces and props have been rehearsed all along, it makes things flow much easier. I always assign who is taking what on and off in the beginning, and they must mime this during every run through. In addition, I have every actor have “something” in their hand as a prop during the entire rehearsal process, so they aren’t thrown during tech week when actual props are provided. Above all, keep working hard, and do your homework, going over and over each and every thing you do or are assigned, so blocking becomes second nature by opening night.
Kristopher Kyer will be appearing in “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” at the Simi Valley Cultural Arts Center, beginning October 26. For dates and showtimes, see the VC On Stage Calendar of Events.