An Actor's Perspective - When the Show Ends...

An Actor's Perspective - When the Show Ends...

Post Show Depression, some laugh and say it’s not real, but those who have felt it know that it’s very real. The end of a show can hit different people in different ways. It can also vary from show to show, but let me back up for a moment. The final curtain has fallen, strike is complete and you have partied with your cast mates to celebrate the success of your show. You get home and suddenly realize, that’s it, there are no more lines to be said, no more rehearsals, no more performances, it is simply, over!

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An Actor's Perspective: The Rehearsal Process

Jennifer Kuzmeskas

  • OnStage Massachusetts Columnist

After the long wait between auditions and the first rehearsal the wait is finally over! The rehearsal process is off and running.  Being the first rehearsal, everyone was super excited, possibly the only time everyone will be there early. You could feel the excitement in the air! Everyone was all smiles and I can’t even begin to tell you all the people I hugged. 

It started as most first rehearsals do; the director gave a speech about how excited he is to get started. This happens to be one of the director’s favorite shows, so his expectations are high.  We were also lucky enough to find out about all the different things he plans to do with the show.  Some of the best shows I have done, and had the most fun performing, are the ones where the vision was different from the same old production. You know the productions, where the show is the same thing you have seen at every other community theatre in the area just with different people.  

It was such a different experience to hear about all of the unique ideas the director has planned and his vision, before we even got started. We were able to get an image in our heads and know where the director was headed from the very start.  And, I must say, this version will be different from any other production I have ever seen of this show.  There will be moving stairs, trees and other set pieces. The idea is to do something similar to theatre in the round; I am calling it theatre in the ¾. There will be a square stage, pit behind the stage and audience on the other three sides.  

Unlike most directors and groups, this director also shared how important this show is to him and this particular theatre group. He explained how he wants this show to put the group on the map. I am fortunate enough to live in an area where the arts are alive and well, there are many community theatres to perform and work with.  It’s obvious; this director wants this to be the best experience and show for all involved. To kick things off he wanted to give the cast their first bonding experience and great memory, we had cake and toasted to having fun and creating an amazing show together.  It may sound like a small thing, but what a great, easy way to get everyone to share a positive experience and share a memory right from the start.  

There are many other ideas too, but those will come out as the rehearsal process goes on.

After all the posts on Facebook and having not seen each other since auditions or callbacks it was nice to put some faces with names.  Everyone had a chance to share their name, the role they are playing and a fun fact about themselves.  We have so many great people in this cast…we have someone who has been on Deal or No Deal, a couple that got married less than a month ago, someone who just received her Master’s degree, another couple that just closed on a house and someone else who teaches Math and offered to help those still in school with their homework.   

After a few more logistical discussions, the moment we had all been waiting for, we FINALLY got to sing together. Hearing all the talent and voices come together was truly amazing.  We jumped right in too, after a vocal warm-up we started with the opening of the show. Our leads had the opportunity to start showing their stuff too.  I can honestly say the talent in this show is unbelievable. Between the director’s unique vision and amazingly talented cast, I am very sure that this is going to be one of those shows that should not to be missed.  

The director says, off book for the opening at the next rehearsal…time to hit the books (or should I say libretto)! 

Photo: Waterworks Players

An Actor's Perspective - Rehearsals Begin

Jennifer Kuzmeskas

  • OnStage Massachusetts Columnist

The week is FINALLY here, the week rehearsals are finally going to begin.  The audition process is over, the cast list has been posted all over social media, everyone has said how excited they are to get started, the rest of summer has been enjoyed by all and it’s time. It’s time for that first meet and greet. I am one that takes the summer off from being in a show.  I spend the time with friends and family and I enjoy some other interests and hobbies in life. But, when the time comes, I am more than ready to jump back into a show.  

There are many things I look forward to when getting back into a show. I am not even sure I could tell you about all of them here. Number one on that list I look forward to is, seeing old friends and number two is meeting new friends.  After perusing the cast list for this show it’s a pretty even mix of both. I am even lucky enough to have a small world story unfolding. There is a woman I used to work with many years ago, that hasn’t done theatre in years whom auditioned and was cast.  I am very excited to be catching up with her in this process.  But I digress, there is no better feeling than walking into a room of people who will come together and be a family, at least for the duration of the show.  

The amazing thing about community theatre and especially this group is the family mentality. Often if you are new to a group and really don’t know anyone, you might feel like the outsider at first.  Everyone is hugging and saying hi and catching up, but you don’t know any of them yet.  This group though, welcomes the new and returning in the same way, with open arms.

There is a welcoming air in the room that cannot be explained, but is comforting.   

As rehearsal starts there are the usual pleasantries, usually a description of what to expect at rehearsals from the Director and Music Director, maybe some paperwork that might be passed out. You might even go around the room so everyone can learn each other’s name and what parts they are playing. Then comes the first time that you all get to sing together. That first time everyone sings together is always a special moment. You get to hear the beginnings of what will come and you already start thinking about what it will be like come performance time.  

For me theatre is an escape and having that escape is the third thing I look forward to. I can honestly say I have enjoyed my summer. I have spent time with friends and family, I have seen some shows, spent some time on the beach, went swimming and enjoyed wearing sandals and shorts everywhere I went. Now though, it’s time to escape from everyday life, a couple of nights a week for a few hours and go join another world, a world completely different from my every day. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE my everyday life too. My other half is the center of my world and if I loved him anymore I would bust, my family is the best family I could have ever asked for, I have some of the best friends on the planet, but like everyone else there are trials and tribulations in life, it’s not always smooth sailing. So for a short period of time I get to escape those trials and tribulations and join a fictional world and be someone besides myself. 
Those of you reading this who have done community theatre before, I know, I have only scratched the surface of all that comes with starting down a new path toward another performance. I am confident all those feelings will come out in future posts though. It’s a long rehearsal process and though I am painting a pretty rainbow, or yellow brick road, if you will, like anything else there will be poppies, flying monkeys and many other challenges to overcome.  

Right now though, I am anticipating the fun, excitement and enthusiasm that all comes with that first rehearsal. Knowing that all those old and new friends will become family for a few months. Then at the end of our journey together we will get to share our love and passion for what we have created with an audience.  

Oh, and no, for the record, I am not doing Wizard of Oz. 

Photo: Delaware Theatre Company

 

An Actor's Perspective - Part 3: "Getting That Call..."

Jennifer Kuzmeskas

  • OnStage Massachusetts Columnist

Getting That Call...

The dreaded waiting game, you check your email about 10 times more than you normally do, you check your phone incessantly to see if anyone has called…I mean perhaps you missed the call. Then the phone finally rings, you know it’s the call you have been waiting for.  You hesitantly answer it, hoping for the best but fearing the worst. The person on the other end tells you about all the amazing talent that came out and how it was very difficult to cast the show. Your heart sinks, as they keep talking your heart sinks lower and lower. You even start to concentrate on what you could have done differently. Then, just as you are completely convinced you didn’t make it, the person says, “Given all of that, we are very excited to offer you a role and to have you in the cast.” ELATION!!!!!

Now what? Well, first you need to know if all your friends have been cast. Texting is such a great invention for this. You all went through this agonizing process together; you might as well let them know what’s going on. Plus, they will know that casting has begun and you can let them know what part you got.   Then the full cast list comes out, you get to find out who will be your theatre family for the next few months.  This is something I always get very excited to see. It’s so nice to see so many familiar names and exciting to see many names you don’t know.

By the end of the show most/all of those unfamiliar names will be friends.  

Wait, so you have a part now. Of course you did your research before auditions, but how much do you know about the part you just landed?  It’s time to do some more research. Another form of technology that helps in this process, the internet.  What would we do without the ability to watch videos of our favorite performances, actors/actresses and, of course, watch how others interpreted the part we are about to embark on. Some may say they want to create the part themselves without outside influence, I totally support that. For me, I want to watch at least a couple of videos just to get an idea, even if I don’t use any of the character they created.  Oh and don’t forget to download the soundtrack (assuming you don’t already have it) and listen to it…about 10,000 times.  

In this case, there is also a second waiting game, till the first rehearsal. Auditions were a bit early for this show so they don’t start right away. It’s exciting to have something to look forward to, but part of you wants to start right away and jump in. I mean, you just landed a part, along with a bunch of your friends and there are new people to meet. Let’s do this thing!  

Let’s not rush life though, savor the moment, you had a great audition, you landed a part and you are about to embark on another great theatre journey! Hang out with some “non-theatre friends,” after all, once rehearsals start your standard answer to hanging out with them will be “I can’t, I have rehearsal.” Enjoy the rest of the summer and look forward to your upcoming journey!

 

An Actor's Perspective - The Waiting Game

Jennifer Kuzmeskas

  • OnStage Massachusetts Coumnist

The day of auditions has now come and gone. Perhaps I should have written separate posts as my feelings before the audition, compared to during the audition, compared to after the audition are very different.  Looking back on yesterday (the day of auditions) it somehow seems to be a blur.  For starters, it was a Monday and, like most people, my “real world” Mondays are no fun.  

In my “theatre world” though this was a different Monday, it was audition Monday. I had done all the right things. I printed my theatre resume, printed my music, did my research, rehearsed hours for a thirty second audition and printed my headshot. It would seem that I should have felt like I was ready. Yet, the inevitable nerves of an audition were ever present.  All day I couldn’t escape my own brain and the nerves that accompany just about every audition I have ever been on.  

Surprisingly, my nerves were calmed significantly after arriving. The thing about community theatre is, it’s a very small world.  I was very fortunate to see friendly and familiar faces upon entering. In fact, a lovely friend of mine from a past show had just finished her audition and was walking out as I was walking in. Then, as I checked in, two more people came in that I knew.  This continued for most of the night.  I find this to be something very special about the community theatre world.  I have worked with multiple different theatre groups in my area and in the process have met so many incredible people along the way. Some of my closest friends I met in this world we have created.  

These people become your cheerleaders, as they did for me last night; they are the ones who understand how you are feeling, want to see you do well and will hopefully become your cast mates for the next few months.  I know what you are thinking though, and yes, you are right, there will be some who aren’t this supportive. Some will be cut throat, some want the same part as you, etc. However, I believe in general most people genuinely want you to do well. I, for one, would rather have everyone give the best audition they can, even if we are going for the same part and leave everything up to the decision makers.  

I digress…back to the auditions…everyone sang last night. A few people were asked to stay because they were awesome and had a conflict with the callbacks. For me personally, I was happy with my audition. That is not something I often say, but I felt good after, still feel like I left it in that room last night and have to say I did better than I normally do.  The parts I auditioned for will probably not be parts the director does a callback for, so the waiting begins.  As far as community theatre goes, this one is going to have a long audition process. The second night of auditions won’t happen till Friday and the callbacks are not until Sunday. 

As a side note to this specific audition experience and if I could offer some advice…if you are considering auditioning for a show, but aren’t sure if you should. Always GO FOR IT!  I stand by the mantra of, “Every audition is a good experience.” You learn something about yourself, the audition process, how a group works and/or you build your confidence for the next time around.  Plus you never know what will happen, you might just land your dream role, you can’t be cast if you don’t audition. 

 

My Actor's Perspective: Part 1 - Before the Audition

Jennifer Kuzmeskas

  • OnStage Massachusetts Columnist

Here it is, one week till auditions…I’m nervous, but I keep telling myself it’s too early to be nervous so I try to play it cool.  I’ve researched the show, chosen the part(s) I’m interested in, chose an audition song and keep rehearsing it over and over again. Will it ever be good enough, is it what the director will be looking for, is it close enough to being “in the style of the show!?” I mean I know I can sing it in my car, but can I sing it in front of the audition committee?  Why does it always sound so different when you sing for other people?  

Aaahhhhh community theatre, such a rewarding and cruel place, all at the same time.  Before I get ahead of myself, how about an introduction, my name is Jennifer, I did a few community theatre productions when I was kid, got away from it for a LONG time and then fell back into it in the fall of 2006.  I caught the “bug” and theatre has been my second home ever since.  The world of community theatre is a place like no other; some of my closest friends are also my toughest competition, the director can be your best friend and auditioning for him/her can be worse than auditioning for a stranger, yet when all is said and done it’s an incredible experience. 

The Upstagers in Del Rio, TX

The Upstagers in Del Rio, TX

The idea of this column has been brewing in my head for quite a while. Community theatre is such a unique experience that so many of us share in and so many others wonder “why we do it” that I wanted to share what it’s like…day to day! For many of us the theatre is a place to relieve stress, to spend time with friends, create something we are passionate about and escape from everyday life for just a little while.  

As a community theatre actor/actress most of us also have full time jobs, families to take care of, doctor’s appointments, laundry, dinner to get on the table and so much more.  Yet, in the midst of an already busy life, we find the time to include 1-4 nights of rehearsal (we won’t discuss tech week yet), time to learn lines, time to learn music, time to learn blocking, a set building/painting night here and there, perhaps some time to gather props, design a playbill, sew costumes, design a poster and so much more.  Not only do we do all of that, but we call it fun…and mean it. 

In this blog I am going to follow my path beginning from pre-audition through performance (assuming that I make it onto the cast list, if not, this will end after auditions) and possibly a bit beyond.  I want to cover the nerves of auditioning, the reconnecting with former cast-mates along with the making of friends with new cast-mates, the trials and tribulations of the rehearsal process, the stress it can put on life, the excitement of performing and post show withdrawal. As is with the rehearsals, some posts will be longer than others, some will contain more content than others, but they should all share an experience and make you feel like you are taking this journey with me.

So back to it being a week before auditions. Logistically, I really need to make sure my theatre resume is up to date, I have a good head shot printed and I should check and see if I can fill out the audition form before I get there.  And that song, I need to make sure that song is ready.