Superman, Batman, Catwoman...You think you’ve seen it all in the superhero world, until you’ve seen “PICKLES!” The new hilarious play tells the tale of self-proclaimed vigilante Everyman and his feisty cosmetologist girlfriend Annie as they save the world from the evil Decaffeinator, who has drained the entire world of caffeine. This entertaining comedy, written and directed by Alex Rotella and Laura Minadeo, will premiere at The New York International Fringe Festival on August 20th-29th.
What is that you ask? FringeNYC is largest multi-arts festival in North America featuring 200 of the top upcoming plays and musicals. Over the two weeks of the festival, the theaters will be filling with over 90,000 people, including everyone from the casual city goer to Broadway’s top directors and casting agents. A dream for any aspiring actor, and this year I am lucky to be heading there as a part of the “Pickles” cast! Sounds glamorous, huh? But what the audiences doesn’t see, is the crazy process leading up to the New York premiere. From hardcore pre-rehearsal workouts, to cramped van rides, to getting a new cast member three days before a show, it has certainly been an insane journey!
Rehearsals started off in July with a barbeque, which felt like the first episode of a Real World season. One by one everyone came in and we met the people we were about to spend the next few months with. With a tiny cast and crew of 15 people, there is no room for cast drama, so I was hoping everyone would be chill. And luckily, everyone is awesome! As the rehearsal process continued, we all gathered for a full cast rehearsal once a week in a small studio space we called “the tree,” with other weekly rehearsals being used for fight choreography and character development. After only two rehearsals, the whole show was completely blocked.
But it didn’t end there, there was still tons of work to be done in bringing our fun characters to life. Because up until a month ago we had no idea what our venue size was, we had to switch around sets and practice the show in different spaces to be prepared for anything. That was probably the most difficult part of rehearsing for a Fringe NYC show, you have to be ready for anything. I remember at one point Alex, our director, told us “We should be able to show up at the beach and put on this show.” I truly believe at this point, we probably could.
As the show got closer, rehearsals got more intense as we prepared for the Rhode Island premiere of the show, which we put on a few weeks before the festival. We even were called to participate in a pre-rehearsal workout, the workout we had all been avoiding every other week of rehearsal. Those exercises were no joke. After about 100+ jumping jacks and too many ab workouts, the sweaty cast was ready to take on anything….except the last 10 minutes of the workout.
The RI premiere finally arrived and we were so excited and ready to show “Pickles” to the world. The day of our first show, we arrived bright and early for a full day of tech at The Community College of Rhode Island, where the shows would take place. Despite being exhausted and having a brand new cast member, we powered through and put on two amazing, sold-out shows. The audience loved the show and were eager to ask about our show secrets during the after show Q&A. It was super exciting to put on a show for the first time ever, no one had ever seen or heard the story of “Pickles” before, and it was really cool to be apart of that experience.
Just a day after our sold-out premiere, it was off to New York for our one and only tech rehearsal in the Flamboyan Theatre, our venue for the festival. We all arrived in Rhode Island bright and early at 4am, and piled into a 16 passenger van. It’s a good thing we all get along because we were one big cuddly family that day. To no surprise, the entire cast fell asleep within minutes, and only awoke to the announcement of “Rest stop. Food. Coffee.” Finally at around 8:30am, we arrived in NYC, where we all excitedly piled out of the van and looked for the nearest Dunkin Donuts. Though this show is about the draining of caffeine, this cast clearly needs it.
A few hours later, we found ourselves inside the Flamboyan Theatre, ready for our 2 hour tech rehearsal. As the festival rules state, our load in time for sets, props and costumes has to be under 15 minutes. When the timer started, we all immediately went into beast-mode and plowed our way in there. We clocked in just over 2 minutes, pretty impressive. I think it was that hardcore workout. To our surprise, the space was much bigger than expected and it was great to finally be on a New York stage.
After an excellent run of the show and our under 15-minute load out, we set off to explore the area. While our directors headed to Fringe Central, a group of us headed to a small cafe where we entertained the other guests with a rousing game of “Would You Rather.” That day was truly a bonding experience for our cast. Everyone suddenly felt like best friends, which only made the idea of putting on a show together in a week more exciting. After a day of working and hilarious snapchats, we all boarded back into the van for our journey home, where once again, everyone fell asleep.
A week from today, the “Pickles” cast will be back in NYC for our first show at the festival, and we couldn’t be more excited! This has been such an awesome experience and we are so excited to show New York what we got! Come join us for a week of fun filled shows at the Flamboyan Theatre, August 20th, 22nd, 25th, 27th, and 29th. It’s a show you don’t wanna miss!
Tickets available at: http://www.fringenyc.org/Find_Showsnew.ph