Backstage:

BY Advocate Contributors

November 15 2010 9:10 PM ET

Ladies and gentlemen, let the games begin. Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown has finished previews.

Before the official opening night of a musical, there are public performances where tickets are sold and an audience is able to see the show. Though the production is still a work in progress, the creative team uses previews to gauge the impartial audiences’ reaction and see what’s working in the show and what is not. We rehearse and make changes during the day then implement those changes that evening when the curtain goes up. It's a very “on your toes” experience. Actors have to remember new lines, new blocking, new choreography, and new costume changes all in a matter of hours before being thrown to the lions of New York City.

The opening number now tells a story representing everyday life in Madrid. Naturally (wink, wink), roller skaters were added — two male roller skaters I must cover. I do not roller-skate. They didn't ask us if we could roller-skate at the audition. If they did, someone else would be writing this column about WotV and I could very well be playing the role of Fruma Sarah in Fiddler on the Roof at the Saskatchewan County fair.

In the number, the two men on wheels have to bob and weave in and out of the “citizens of Madrid” as they walk through the city streets. Since my roller skating abilities are shaky at best and the act of propelling myself in the direction that I am choreographed to skate is a crapshoot, I can only imagine the headlines now: “Roller Skater Rampage! Broadway’s Best Rolled Over by Ample-Bosomed Chorine, John Carroll.” Roller skating reminds me of an audition I once went to where the choreographer asked me if I spun plates. Spun plates as in holding a long stick while spinning dinnerware on the end of it. No, I do not spin plates. I don't know, maybe it's me. Maybe I've made poor choices along the way, like to study at the Juilliard School instead of Ringling Brothers. Some performers have a section on their résumé called "special skills." Under this heading would be such things as "roller skater," "plate spinner," or any other odd thing the person might feel will help them land the job. I don't do anything out of the ordinary that would fit under such a category, and if I did, I would save it for the boudoir. I once knew a person who put "toe waving" on their resume under special skills. This person could manipulate their phalanges in such a way that it looked like they were waving hello to you. I wonder how many people booked a job for such a thing. You know, legend has it, in the end, it was between Meryl Streep and Ruth Buzzi for the title role in Sophie's Choice.

Sometimes it all comes down to toe waving.







Tags: Theater

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