As I sip on the best pumpkin spice latte I’ve ever tasted and walk into rehearsal to play in the magical world of Oz I feel like the luckiest kid on earth. For anyone who is new in a foreign country I highly recommend getting involved in the local community theatre because it is a fantastic way to meet wonderful people, to find out what’s going on around town, and to have a great time. In a later entry I’ll go on more about what is so special about community theatre compared to any other kind of theatre, but for now I want to gush about the lovely folks I get to work with!
The director sets the tone of every rehearsal room; Jim Parsons is one of my favorite directors because he makes it a really fun, safe, and enjoyable place to be. He receives even our most bizarre and outlandish rehearsal-character-exploring-choices with warmth, laughter, appreciation, and an honest “nice, but don’t do that during a show.” Jim has this wonderful way of balancing the energy in a room so that actors can pretty much go completely crazy and yet still make progress on the play. I think the best kind of director is one that guides us to perform at our best without imposing too much and sometimes without our even noticing; that’s Jim.
Speaking of completely crazy rehearsal-character-exploring-choices, I am beginning to realize how difficult it is going to be to play Dorothy. It’s not because her vocal range is all over the place, it’s not because she almost never steps offstage, it’s not because she spends the entire show carrying a little dog and a basket, and it’s not because she has to make a blue gingham frock look good with ruby slippers. It’s because she somehow must spend the majority of her time interacting with Funny, Funnier, and Funnierer (in no particular order: Mark Smallwood [Scarecrow], Harold Moore [Tin Man], and Mark Bradbury [Lion]) without completely loosing it and falling to the floor in fits of laughter every 4.5 seconds.
I don’t want to put anyone on the spot, but before seeing Harold’s interpretation I never knew the Tin Man could be funny. I don’t want to give away any of their character choices but I will say that they are all finding a balance between playing iconic characters and making them all their own, and playing off each other gracefully without upstaging one another. They’re freaking hilarious and as of right now I can’t even handle it.
I wish I had enough space to talk about all the amazing people who are working on this production! Cherie Wheeler (Wicked Witch/Miss Gultch) is hilarious and enchanting, Anne Gregory (Glinda/Aunt Em) is beautiful and magical, Chad Ford (Uncle Henry/Guard) is so endearing, Mike Payne (Professor Marvel/Oz) is hilarious and spot-on, Candice Pike (choreographer) is a talented, fun, graceful, joy to work with, Gary Graham (musical director) is as positive and patient as he is talented, Terry Randell’s Mayor of Munchkin city is adorably goofy, and every Munchkin, tree, crow, Ozian, jitterbug, poppy, Winkie, and flying monkey holds their own and brings something really special and unique to every moment of the show.
Thanks for reading and have a great day!