Our View From Here

Perspectives of Five Women

News from around Brighton Beach

on October 4, 2010

Last week was a big week of openings and closings.  For the past two weeks I’ve had five shows running in San Diego, which is pretty unusual for a stage manager.  This uncommon event happened because I worked on two repertory productions in a row.  I handed off the backstage track at the opening of the Shakespeare Festival and then started rehearsal for the Simon Plays.

This week we held understudy rehearsal for Brighton Beach Memoirs and next week, we’ll rehearse Broadway Bound. After spending eight hours a day with this cast for nearly two months, hearing someone else say their lines is a little bizarre. Our set is a beautiful dollhouse. The plays take place 12 years apart, so a lot of the furniture is the same, but most of the dressing and all of the hand props are different. Half of the time our understudies are rehearsing on the “wrong” set.  The crew is able to do a partial changeover, creating a funny hybrid of the two shows.  We also have a couple of understudies covering two roles, which makes for an entertaining run-through when an actress has a scene with herself!

We had a really wacky performance of Brighton Beach Memoirs on Friday night. Truly great energy, with some unusual line hiccups from most of the cast (and actual hiccups from one actor).  My stage manager blamed the quirky performance on the peanut butter & jelly cookies I made that day!

The pumpkin spice cookies I made on a whim at the start of rehearsals got such a positive response and went so quickly that I’ve been inspired to bake more often. It’s been fun making old favorites and trying new recipes, like this week’s PB&J cookies.  I grew up baking dozens of cookies with my mom every Christmas. Now, I enjoy turning on the radio and mixing the batter.  I get into a routine once they start going in the oven. It’s a good way to unwind. And it has the obvious bonus of getting to share the homemade cookies with my hard-working cast and fabulous roommates, who often say I’m spoiling them.  I’ve always liked baking cookies more than I like eating them.  You’ve got to have people to enjoy them; otherwise it’s just a waste!

On Saturday, two of our crew guys celebrated birthdays, which gave me the excuse to walk through Balboa Park with a dozen colorful helium balloons!  And during Sunday’s matinee, I learned some new and interesting things: The amount of water in a cloud can be measured in elephants. “Assume an elephant weighs about six tons, …that would mean that water inside a typical cumulous cloud would weigh about one hundred elephants.” (Peggy LeMone, National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado).  I also learned (during a discussion about making our fake prop bananas look a bit more realistic) that bananas continue to ripen while in a bunch.  To slow the ripening process, separate them from their bunch.

Just another weekend in the backstage world of Brighton Beach. 🙂

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