There’s a phrase we use, with both love and hate, during rehearsals: Hell Week. It refers to the final push to opening night. We rehearse every night leading up to the big show, as opposed to a handful of times per week.
As you can imagine, this is the time everyone gets a bit panicky, realizing the show is just around the corner, and we still have tons of work to do! But it’s also extremely exciting, as the anticipation for the performance, the culmination of all this hard work, reaches its zenith. It’s time to bear down and get serious while at the same time becoming giddy at the thought of showing this off to the audience.
This year, Hell Week(s) is all we have. Due to limitations of our director and some cast members, we have been forced to forego the usual month or so of preparations and jump right into the fiery pit of two weeks of daily rehearsals.
Ba-dee, ba-dee, ba-dee ... that’s all folks! If you don’t know your lines by the first day we get together, you could be really setting yourself up for disaster. There’s new blocking, new choreography and a whole new feel to the show so, we’d all damn well better be on top of our games with self-directed practice as soon as possible.
There’s something electric about this, especially in local theater. On Broadway, you’re seeing actors go through the motions they’ve done six times already that week, and the week before and so on. Yes, it’s polished, and they’re extremely talented and it’s a fantastic show. But it’s exactly the same show they’ve done all season. And it’s very seldom that something goes awry and the actors are forced to improvise when something unexpected happens.
In contrast, live community theater is a tightrope walk over shark-infested waters. This is no one’s full time job, and so the actors must be prepared for something unrehearsed, extraordinary and completely unexpected to surprise them. And with a smart, competent company (the Vail Valley Theatre Company), this can be wonderfully entertaining. It’s spectacular to see a heroic save on the stage.
And a spectacle is exactly what we’re all in for here at next week’s performance. If you’ve been to a previous Rocky Horror Show, you’ll have a blast with the upgrades new director Nick Sugar has made.
If you’re still a Rocky virgin, get off your butt and see what all the fuss is about! No one has ever left this show disappointed. In fact, as the curtain falls each night, the time warp will continue with the cast and crew at any one of our fine after parties. Don’t drink and drive, ride the Turtle Bus! (See information box.)
But mainly, on your Rocky Horror Show night, expect the unexpected.
Bart Garton is a longtime local and a member of the Vail Valley Theatre Company. Email comments about this column to firstname.lastname@example.org.