The show must go on… but really

Internship: Week 2

You know the saying, “the show must go on”? I realized last weekend that it could not be truer. I mean I really had no idea how much theaters follow that saying. In the short time span of 24 hours, which was three performances of Flora the Red Menace, everything that could possibly go wrong went wrong. Yet each show went on as scheduled.

On Saturday night, the cast and crew regrouped after a break and the main actress, Dani Stroller, who plays Flora mentioned that she felt odd. One of those feelings where you can’t decide if you are hungry or getting sick. Not thinking much of it she ate a snack and she went to warm up her voice with the rest of the cast. Everyone got into places and the show began. About 45 minutes into Act 1, Dani asked me if I could text our stage manager Colleen because apparently Dani had been throwing up since before the show started. My thoughts: Oh man. What the hell am I supposed to do about this? Dani doesn’t have an understudy so apparently she had to keep performing. I was feeling so badly for her and I was frustrated because I knew there wasn’t anything I could do that would really help. I got a bucket, coke, ginger ale, and water and hoped for the best. Anyway, Dani finished Act 1 and Colleen commented that it did not look like she was sick. As a matter of fact, she was doing a great job performing. This, I was obviously impressed by. I mean if it had been me I probably would have overdramatically crawled onto the floor and into a ball. Then I was struck again by a comment Dani made during intermission. She was upset, saying that she had a high fever, just the she was feeling awful, then she said “How am I supposed to perform the rest of the show feeling this way?” And anyone who was listening responded, “The way you have been.” Dani’s ability to pull through regardless of how she felt was absolutely amazing. I have no idea if there was a possibility of cancelling the musical that night and refunding tickets, but I feel like that idea didn’t even cross her mind. The show must go on. Dani acted regardless.

The next day, we had another two shows: the Sunday matinee and evening performance. For the Sunday matinee, everything seemed to be going fine. Then about a half an hour into the play, I received a text message from Colleen saying that the lights on stage pulsed. If the actors asked me about it just to tell them that she realized it but was not concerned as of yet (this will become important later). A couple of minutes later, Josh Dick (the actor who plays the Communist romantic interest, Harry) came backstage threw his prop onto the table and went in to the dressing room in a bit of a huff. Clearly upset. I was thinking he must have just made a mistake onstage and was mad at himself. Next thing I knew, I received another text from Colleen stating, “Oh shoot. What about Josh?” So I rush over to him and I say something along the lines of, “Are you okay? I have no idea what happened but Colleen wanted me to check.” Well apparently, Josh was choking on a cheese ball on stage. When he was supposed to start singing one of his songs, he couldn’t and luckily Dani noticed so covered for him by starting to sing until he could recover. Basically, we were in the process of potentially losing an actor, but the show continued. Thank goodness, I guess.

Then finally the last show of the weekend came along. Everyone was tired, but everyone was feeling fine. No problems. Mary Beth Luckenbaugh, who plays Elsa one of Flora’s struggling artist friends, decided that we should do some “boot camp” exercises to give everyone a bit of energy. I guess that is kind of an irrelevant detail, but whatever. Anywho, we start the show and about eight minutes in Colleen sends me a text saying, “my light board crapped out.” Basically the lights were going to stay the same until they could be fixed. At least the light board decided to freeze with the lights on (I try to be positive occasionally). There was this major problem and just several little mess ups in the first act. All of the issues that occurred in the last few shows were beginning to feel unreal. Although my favorite had to be when I was helping Kelsey Meiklejohn (who plays another friend of Flora, Maggie and the secretary) change clothes, she said something along the lines of, oh crap the audience just saw me starting to undress… Oops. Because the lights didn’t go off and Kelsey has to change very quickly, this was definitely a possibility. The first act ended and Colleen was able to get the light board working during intermission. Nothing else could go wrong, right? There was only one hour left of the show, everything will be great. Hahaha. Nope. Well in the last thirty minutes of the play it started to rain. Hard. The problem was because of the way the building of the theater is set, the rain was extremely loud inside the theater as it pounded on the roof. I thought the air conditioner was about to explode it was that loud. The actors could barely hear each other and I am not sure how well the audience could hear the remainder of the musical. At this point, the whole cast and I were all just laughing hysterically. What kind of show is this? We couldn’t stop it just felt ridiculous. The whole weekend was a slight disaster. Nevertheless, the actors continued acting without their lighting cues and even though the rain was beating on the ceiling. Each show continued relatively well. Because we are clearly very lucky, as the actors took their bows of that last show, the rain let up and the lights went down as if nothing went wrong.

The show must go on really has a whole new meaning to me.

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