Crew: The Unsung Heros of Theatre

I believe every actor should do some form of crewing at least once in their career. No one realizes just how hard and important of a job it is until they’ve done it themselves. I myself am currently crewing a show right now, though this is not my first time taking on a show from the wings.

I walked into this one thinking it’d be the easiest crew experience I’d ever had… If you’ve ever worked backstage before, you probably laughed at that last sentence (and rightly so). I joined the production about two weeks out from opening night, I was supposed to help a friend with a quick change and that was really it. The first rehearsal I walked into, I was asked to costume the show as the previous costumer had fell through. So now I’m doing the quick change I initially came to do and costuming the show in two weeks… no biggie, I can handle this.

Then we start talking about makeup and I get myself into doing that too. So now on show nights, I do some age makeup before the show, I handle the quick change between the scenes in act one, I do a lot more aging during intermission, and I do some SUPER fast aging between the scenes in act two (for clarity’s sake, each scene jumps a decade, so all of the actors age ten years between each scene). I also usher when we have no ushers signed up for the night.

And before I go any further, I should note that I’m not looking for any kind of praise for taking on all these tasks. This is not a paid position, it was all 100% choice and I could have said no, but I chose not to because I thrive on the chaos that is live theatre. I merely wanted to paint for you a picture of a standard night in crewing.

The point of this story is– crew people are jacks-of-all-trades. Because they have to be. Crew are the unsung heros of the world of theatre and it’s time we as actors start regularly singing their praise. If you don’t think crew are some of the most important people in a production, try a run without them; I guarantee you won’t make it out of the first act alive.

So next time a crew member isn’t there to hand you your prop, a set piece is missing, your mic cuts out, or you don’t even know what’s going on with the lighting, try not to get mad and berate the crew, because chances are that what happened was way less significant than what would have happened without them. Crew make countless split second decisions each night to keep the show moving without a hitch and sometimes those decisions come down to what is going to cause the least issues, because a flawless choice doesn’t exist.

Bottom line: Respect your crew. Appreciate your crew. Love your crew.

blog sign off
Break a leg,
-Brandi
find me on social media,
twitter: @bwaybrandi
Instagram: @sugarbutterbrandi
snapchat: broadwaybrandi
email: brandinyc525600@gmail.com

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Now What?

You’ve just closed a show. You’re sad, you’re tired, and you’re bored out of your mind. You’ve gone from practically living in the theater to an abundance of free time. So how do you fill it?

Well, if you know what your next show is, start researching it and planning your audition material! Start making a decision on your top choice roles, find a song and/or a monologue or two to audition with, and think about characterization decisions you’ll make if you’re asked to read for a specific role.

See shows!! Support other community/school theatres.  Return the favor to all the friends that came to support you. You spent your time bringing joy, laugher, and tears to the eyes of your audience, so settle in and enjoy someone else doing all the work while you relax and take in a show.

Get ahead on projects for school or work that will get pushed right back onto the backburner as soon as you start your next show. Right that big paper, get that stack of paperwork off your desk, or just get more organized.

Hang out with your friends! Chances are they’ve heard the phrase, “I can’t, I have rehearsal,” more times than either of you can count; so take advantage of the extra time while you still have it.

Read. If you have a TBR pile like mine, you probably have books falling off your shelves… maybe you can knock a few off before your next show.

Take some time to relax. Shows are taxing physically and mentally, some take a heavier toll than others. It’s important to give yourself at least a couple days to decompress before you throw yourself into the next project. Take a bath, light your favorite candle, snuggle your pet, do whatever makes your heart feel cozy.

What is your favorite way to combat the post-show blues?

Until next time,

Break a leg,
-Brandi
find me on social media,
twitter: @bwaybrandi
Instagram: @sugarbutterbrandi
snapchat: broadwaybrandi
email: brandinyc525600@gmail.com

 

After the Last Bow

Yesterday we closed our production of Clue. I am exhausted, sore, and my throat is screaming… and yet I still find myself wishing I was in the dressing room as I type this.

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Even if your body is relieved about the break, your heart yearns for the preshow adrenaline rush, the backstage laughs and hugs, and that tingly feeling you get when you hear the cue line for your first entrance.

When you take your last bow, and as you head to the lobby to greet the audience for the last time, you see your castmates around you and realize that you’re about to go from seeing them for hours everyday to waiting around until you get to perform with them again. Even if you still get to see all your castmates everyday, say if you’re a part of a high school theatre group, it isn’t the same. Not to mention, saying goodbye to castmates that have become like family isn’t the only thing hard to say goodbye to.

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Saying goodbye to a show, a character you’ve become is hard too. For the duration of the show, you learn to give up yourself in order to transform into another person. When a show ends, it’s like a shock to the system when you’re back to being just, you. For most shows, you’ll never be in that show, playing that same role again. And even if you do get to replay a role, it won’t be at the same point in your life, with the same people, on the same stage– the whole dynamic will be different. This doesn’t mean that it won’t be as good, it just won’t be the same.

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After a show closes, your heart will hurt, your body will thank you, and soon you’ll start the process over again.

So tonight, this is Mrs. Peacock signing off.

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Break a leg,
-Brandi
find me on social media,
twitter: @bwaybrandi
Instagram: @sugarbutterbrandi
snapchat: broadwaybrandi
email: brandinyc525600@gmail.com

Tips for Memorizing a Script on a Time Crunch

Not all rehearsal processes are created equal… I  have been in shows that have a three and a half month rehearsal process and I have been in shows with a two and a half week rehearsal process. Needless to say, those two time frames offer very different options for learning your lines. As I procrastinate learning my lines for my current show a little further, I’ll share with you the tip and tricks I’ve used for past shows, and the ones I should probably use today…

  1. Read through the whole script when you get it… don’t just skim for the parts with your lines– This is important because it provides the entire context of the show. Some of your lines won’t make sense to you without knowing things that happen in scenes you aren’t in. Something that happens in a scene you aren’t a part of could have a big impact on your character later so it’s important that you understand the full context. Not only will your lines make more sense to you, but it will give you connections, which make them harder to forget.
  2. Always say the lines in your character voice– It will make a difference when you get off book if you’re suddenly changing how your saying them. I guarantee it will be harder to remember them if you have to focus on how your saying them, rather than having them memorized in the character voice.
  3. If lengthy monologues are kicking your butt– Read it through, out loud, read off the first sentence, say it without looking, then add a sentence or phrase and read through it again, repeating until you’ve said the whole thing, write it out while looking at it, write as much of it as you can without looking, recite as much as you can without looking, and repeat until it’s memorized!
  4. Write out all your lines and cue lines on notecards (yes, all of them.)– Write the cue on one side and your line on the back. Not only is the final product helpful to flip through when studying your lines (and it gives you a way to see your cue line without your line easily visible under it) but the actual act of writing out the lines will be helpful to learning it.
  5. Watch clips and videos (and the movie version if there is one.)– hearing other people say the lines and seeing different variations on how the character is played has always helped me learn my lines and make character decisions.
  6. Carry your script with you EVERYWHERE– If you have a spare moment at anytime, you should be pulling out your script to look over a scene or two. Always be looking for a quick break to look over your script.
  7. Look at it first and last– Make it the first thing you look at in the morning and the last thing you look at before you go to bed at night. This makes it prominent in your mind, as you’re more likely to be thinking about it throughout the day.

Happy line learning!

Break a leg,
-Brandi
find me on social media,
twitter: @bwaybrandi
Instagram: @sugarbutterbrandi
snapchat: broadwaybrandi
email: brandinyc525600@gmail.com

 

 

 

Having to Drop Out of a Show

Recently, I dealt with something I never considered having to deal with… I had to withdraw from a show. I never thought I’d be in a place where I’d be offered two great roles during essentially the same production time frame. I live in a small town, and when I was younger we were lucky to have the one, low budget children’s theatre that you had to pay to be a part of. I was involved with that group from the age of 5 or 6 until about 5th grade. Those were the only shows available to me until high school, where I performed in one musical each spring. Again, I had just one show a year to look forward to.

The summer after I graduated I was lucky enough to find a community theatre group with a summer teen show about 20 minutes from my hometown. I performed with them again this summer as well. My first year of college offered me two shows, one in the fall and one in the spring, both of which I had an absolute blast in. I also managed to student direct my first show during the time in between those two. Needless to say, I quickly went from one show a year to maybe a week or two between shows… sometimes less. It was quite an adjustment, but totally worth it! Looking back to a couple years ago, it’s crazy to me that I used to wait a whole year between shows, I much prefer a packed schedule that allows me to perform so much more.

Currently, I am in Clue as Mrs. Peacock. We were cast just under a month ago and as I write this, rehearsals start tomorrow! I was also recently offered a role in a dinner theatre show called Funeral for a Gangster with a theatre company that is starting up in my hometown. I’m so excited by the thought of finally having a community theatre up and running in my hometown again. I’ve wanted this for years and I love that so many people will now have a chance to experience live theatre again. Unfortunately, the dinner theatre runs during the rehearsal process for Clue, and since they are both such short projects, there was just no way for me to swing both.

Thankfully, Funeral for a Gangster, while with my hometown’s theatre company, is not actually taking place in my hometown. I am hoping that, once they get the theater opened back up, I will be able to perform in the first event to take place in our reopened theater.

I am so grateful to be in a place in my life where being offered a role can be a problem. Performing is the thing I love most so it is a comfort to know, that there is no shortage of shows I can be a part of. The only hard part is having to make decisions between shows.

I am extremely excited for Clue, and while I can’t be a part of Funeral for a Gangster, I’m so excited that it is bringing us one step closer to bringing my hometown theater back to life. I wish the absolute best for the cast of that production and I’m hopeful about working with them more in the future!

Break a leg,
-Brandi
find me on social media,
twitter: @bwaybrandi
Instagram: @sugarbutterbrandi
snapchat: broadwaybrandi
email: brandinyc525600@gmail.com

 

The Magic Flute: My First Opera Experience

I have always wanted to see an opera. Recently, I checked that experience off my theatrical bucket list. I was able to see The Magic Flute. I am so grateful for such an amazing first experience of seeing an opera, I’m now convinced that someday I just have to be in one!

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I was lucky enough to know someone in the chorus, so I was able to attend student night, which was actually their last rehearsal before they opened the show to the public. It was an incredible production, the cast was full of talent and stellar comedic timing.

If you’re unsure if operas are for you, this production would be a great way to test the waters and see if you might actually love them! It’s a great comedy and the costuming and wigs were to die for! Plus, the music… absolutely gorgeous (and the orchestra was just as brilliant as the actors).

I urge you, see shows you are unsure about, I went in expecting to love it, but I know many people are wary about operas. The more shows you see, the more elements of theatre you will discover you love. Every show and every production offers something new to learn and experience.

Break a leg,
-Brandi
find me on social media,
twitter: @bwaybrandi
Instagram: @sugarbutterbrandi
snapchat: broadwaybrandi
email: brandinyc525600@gmail.com

Junie B. Jones Children’s Theatre

Wow. It’s been a while since I’ve made a post. It seems like there was a lull of theatre related content in my life and all of the sudden so much has happened. I currently have four drafts of posts to write, here’s my first post in what will likely be a rapid fire sequence of posts.

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Recently I grabbed a friend and headed to a children’s theatre production of the stage adaptation of Junie B. Jones. Many people around my age grew up reading these books, so for us, it was a trip down memory lane and a chance to support some of my favorite little performers.

 

The show was super cute and featured some very talented young performers. If you’re a fan of theatre I highly encourage you to support your local school and community theatres… Yes, they may be less impressive and lower budget productions than professional tours of shows, but every professional actor catches the acting bug somewhere smaller. And you never know, you may come out with a new perspective on community theatre. Many small theatres have extremely talented performers, all of whom are undeniably dedicated to their craft, after all they’re clearly not doing it for a paycheck; they’re doing it because it’s what they love.

Another great thing about community theatre is that often, more risks are taken in regards to how something is performed. Community theatre groups aren’t as bound to the type of performance that is expected of professional theatre companies. They are more likely to adapt a production to fit their group, whether that means gender bending a role, performing a certain number in a different key than what it typically is, breaking the standard mold of what a character is ‘supposed’ to look like, changing the general style/vibe of a show, or really anything else… the sky is the limit. Sometimes community theatre groups change things because they have a unique vision, and sometimes they have to, they may not have enough of a budget to do things the way they were initially intended, they might not have the right actor for it, or an unending number of other complications.

The point is, get out and see productions in communities around you, after all supporting the arts starts with you. See anything and everything you can, musicals, straight plays, operas, children’s shows, teen shows, adult shows, and everything in-between. Each production you see will give you another reason to fall in love with live performance all over again.

Break a leg,
-Brandi
find me on social media,
twitter: @bwaybrandi
Instagram: @sugarbutterbrandi
snapchat: broadwaybrandi
email: brandinyc525600@gmail.com