Backstage Beauty {Day 2}

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For as long as I can remember, I have lived at the edge of these two universes we call “backstage”.  And before I lived there, I dreamed of it.

Because to take residence there is to breathe a most rarified air.   It is where every performer endeavors to live.  Once there, you stand on the precipice of magic and heightened reality.”

~Jason Alexander

 

I frantically put the last touch of finishing powder on my stage makeup as our friendly stage manager {and believe me, they are not always friendly} gives us our places call.  {“Places” technically means 2 minutes until the curtain goes up, but rest assured its code for ‘get your hiney to the stage.’}

As I ascend the three flights of stairs from the basement {the location of all of the dressing rooms in this particular theatre} with a few of my fellow castmates, I am in a state that can only be described as musical theatre euphoria.

This particular company of actors, technicians, producers, as well as our director & conductor are the creme of the crop, the creme de la creme.  Not only is every single person ridiculously talented at their particular job, they are kind, loving and fun people to spend time around.

{And truly, truly–THIS IS NOT ALWAYS THE CASE.  I can not stress that enough.}

As I open the stairwell door and my eyes adjust to the darkness of backstage, I find every member of the company hugging and wishing each other “Good Shows” and “Break A Legs”.  The energy is palpably electric while also being warm and nurturing.

The beginning of this show’s opening number has every member of the company joining hands and entering the stage in a long triumphant line of well known melody and choreography by Jerome Robbins. Amidst the revelry, I make my way to my place in line.  I’m surprisingly towards the front, between two principal actors I respect enormously.

The producer finishes his pre-show speech, and walks backstage, flashing his million watt smile to everyone in the wings.  He wishes us well as he hurriedly makes his way to the theatre.

I hear the sound of the orchestra tuning–the open fifth chords soothing my pre-show nerves.

The stage and auditorium go completely black, and a few seconds of silence resound through the air.

This is when it begins– the transition into another world.

Our stage manager Maggie begins to ‘call’ the show cues to the technicians backstage–hers is the only audible voice in the silence. We hear the rush of a large painted backdrop being lowered from the dizzying heights of the rafters to the stage floor. A musician onstage, atop a large house set piece, begins to play a familiar musical line known the world over,  that begins this particular show. {If you haven’t yet guessed, this is a production of Fiddler On The Roof}.

As the well known tune carries through the house on a lone violin’s strings, the actor playing the leading role of Tevye walks past us in character, stepping onto the stage to narrate the evening.

All of us in this theatre, whether on the stage, or in the audience, will have two and a half hours together in one space. We will connect with one another in ways we may not be able to fully comprehend, even after the curtain falls.

In musical theatre, the power of storytelling has its optimum medium. Words, music, movement, dance–all of these expressive components help tell the story at hand.

As our musical cue of forte percussion and strings resound, I step onto the stage, linked with my colleagues not only by hand, but in solidarity of artistic spirit.

Photo By & Property of Michael C. Foster
Photo By & Property of Michael C. Foster

 

We begin to sing our story, and everything else falls away.

I was made for this.

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This is Day 2 of a 31 Days series,  31 Days In A Musical Theatre Life.  Find the introduction post here.

 I hope you’ll continue joining me here–I ask for grace, as I have been a bit slow with my posts.  I’m currently in musical rehearsals for a show opening in a few short weeks! {Oh, the irony.}   Loving the 31 Days concept?   Find over 1200 other bloggers writing out their own 31 Days here.

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