mark, my words

April 25-26, 1998

Whoops. For the first time in weeks I skipped a day in my journal. Sorry to those who kept reloading all day to see what was wrong.

Yesterday (Saturday) morning I woke up with my car still at the shop. I finally was able to get to my car at abour 10:30 in the morning and left for the theatre to help out with the show's work day. We loaded in scenery, platforms, cleaned backstage, etc. At about 2pm many of us went to Great America. We left most of our cars at Notre Dame and left for Great America. We road rides, saw shows, The Crew sang "Summer Lovin'" (deja vu all over again), and a good time was had by all. Then, as if we hadn't had a long day already, we decided that we would attempt to catch Silver Creek's (a local high school) closing night production of Into the Woods.

The great thing about working on this Notre Dame show is that I get to attempt to do what a few of my past good directors have done, kept me in the path towards continuing with the theatre. There have been many instances when I would have just as easily thrown in the towel. But then, an inspiring person, director, actor, whoever comes around and shows me why I'm doing this. I don't know if I've helped anyone at Notre Dame on that path. But, sooner or later, if I continue working with younger actors, I will.

The production of Into the Woods at Silver Creek was decent. Certainly not the fault of any of the actors. It was a problem of bad direction. It's the director's job to tell the story. The story of Into the Woods was not told. The audience was never allowed to begin relationships with characters, to care or hate or love or question. Without these relationships between audience and character, the ending catharsis was unrealized. Before working on this show, I was in the camp that thought Into the Woods was too preachy for its own good. I love many of the songs, enjoy so much the opportunity to play the Baker, etc. But, there comes a point when an audience member should be allowed to stop being taught a lesson. Or not.

Now that I'm so heavily involved with the show, I feel a bit differently. The reason for this is very selfish (both for me and those who will see our production). Wheras Silver creek didn't arch, didn't allow for emotion, Notre Dame's production does. Since I know many of you are going to be seeing the production, and have never seen the show before, I'll resist from saying too much (ask me, talk to me about it, after you've seen it... I love this stuff...) about it now. But, in a nutshell, you are to build strong unconscious relationships with several characters. When things happen to these characters as the story unfolds you are then going to feel something for them because of this attachment you have gained. Many who have watched our rehearsals, both who know the show backwards and forwards and new people who have never seen us or the show, have reacted the way I hope and trust our audience will react.

The overall terrible thing, inexcusable as far as I'm concerned, about Silver Creek's production was that I could tell that very few of the actor's had their hearts in the show. It's just something that is easy to read. I lay the fault, again, on the director. I know from being on both sides of the stage, both as actor and director, that it is the responsibility of the director to gain a trusting cast. When the cast trusts that they aren't looking bad, when they trust that they are doing their best, putting on a great show, etc. then they "read" as being comfortable. Especially for a high school show, you want your actors to be comfortable with themselves, their performance, their show. When I feel good about my performance and my show, it shows. When an entire cast feels good about their show and performance, it sells.

So, we saw the show and then went out to eat afterwards to talk about what we saw and goof around after a long day, a long two months of rehearsals. One inside joke after another, after a while the conversation was nothing but "call backs" to past jokes. We got a little silly. It's been fun to be working on a high school show, as well, because I get to take time off and be back in high school again for small periods of time.

At midnight we realized that our cars were then locked inside the school's gates. So, we decided that since we had an early rehearsal the next day (this morning) we would simply sleep over at one of their houses and all go to rehearsal together. So, we did.

Our rehearsal today was with the orchestra. It was the first time the cast and orchestra got together. Most productions like this don't do this until a day or two before opening night, so it was nice to be able to do it five days before, instead. We got through a lot of the show and will do the rest tomorrow. The orchestra sounds great. The show looks to really be fantastic. I've been worried along the way, at times. My worry is out the window. Now, I can't wait. I feel good. Let's just hope you feel up for a good cry next weekend and that our cast can get it out of you...

The Tony Awards. To go or not to go, that is the question. It now appears that getting tickets to the Tonys will happen afterall. But wait, here's the rub, Jess isn't going to be able to go after all. Family plans are taking her out of the picture that weekend. That and not staying as long as I had wanted to got me thinking that perhaps I should just not go to the Tonys this year. Maybe I could go longer later in the summer. I'd like to go to see friends, meet people, etc. The Tonys are nice and all, but I know I'll be just as hot inside Radio City with a packed house full of fancy dresses and hot stuffy tuxedos. Sometimes it's just nicer sitting at home watching it in front of the TV. Comfy, close to a bathroom, refrigerater, etc. We'll see... I'll probably end up going to the Tonys, heading to NYC for 3 or 4 days like last June. Then, perhaps I'll go again, like last year, in August for a longer stretch of time...

Into the Woods has a cue to cue tomorrow with some early rehearsal time begining at 4pm. We'll get close to 30 hours of rehearsal time in a period of four days. Crunch time. But first, sleep time...

- mark


© 1998. Mark Bakalor. All Rights Reserved.