Before the magic of theatre is the work of rehearsal |

Before the magic of theatre is the work of rehearsal

Leslie Brefeld
From left, Heather Connell (Catherine), Skip Wee (Ellard), Mark Mercer (Charlie) and Mari Geasair (Betty) rehearse at the County Commons near Frisco.

BRECKENRIDGE – Making a play is a process of alignment.As rehearsals began for the Backstage Theatre’s production of “The Foreigner,” the players first task was to know where they and their fellow actors were going to be – physically.”We can’t do anything until we know where to move,” said Mari Geasair, who plays Betty Meeks, the owner of the fishing lodge resort where the action of the play takes place.In early rehearsals, the actors spent time working out their movements. With scripts in hand, the actors frequently interrupted each other – either because they didn’t realize it was another player’s turn, or with a question about something to the director.

“Do whatever’s most natural,” director Alex Miller calls out to the actors dealing with some onstage traffic issues.The cast then take notes in their scripts of each new direction or issue they’ve decided upon.Micheal Martorano, who plays the not-so-nice character of Owen Musser, describes the beginning stages as a skeleton, which is fleshed out with character development – the meat – as they put more rehearsals away.An obstacle a production in a county with two community theaters faces is that of actors not being able to make it to rehearsal due to conflicting performances. For “The Foreigner,” the entire cast was present only a handful of times before the final week of dress rehearsals. In these cases, the stage manager or director may read lines for the missing actor.

And in the later stages of practicing, the director is enabled to do more of his job. In a scene where former debutante Catherine Simms (played by Heather Connell) describes why she doesn’t want to be pregnant so soon, director Miller offers some advise.”I want you to be seeing your wedding and your pregnant ass walking down the aisle,” he said.They also work out the technical issues. A lightning bolt sound is heard at one point in the play, and Miller advises the cast to be loud enough to be heard when it goes off. Also, a trap door on the set causes some difficulties early on, but comes together for the show.”The Foreigner,” which opened Thursday, is a story of a shy man (played by Mark Mercer) proving himself – both in a time of crisis and as an interesting person. In return for this opportunity, he manipulates the situation for the better (for the folks who have been taking care of him, that is). The man who at first didn’t want to speak with anyone soon becomes a “prize pupil,” “confessor” and … “pet skunk.”Leslie Brefeld can be reached at (970) 668-4626 or

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