Have you ever had an experience that was just completely awful that you just couldn't really talk publicly about for awhile? Well... that was this past summer for me. I really wanted to do a show, and so Jon and I found a cute little theatre that was close to us that was holding auditions for a show called Pirates of Penzance. I've heard of the show, but I'd never seen it nor been in it; Jon and I thought it might be fun to do together and so we got auditions ready and auditioned. I had read through the show briefly before auditioning so I knew the characters and whatnot, and I was so sure that I would be cast as one of the sisters. Imagine my surprise when I was double cast as Mabel, the lead. I was pretty excited, but that excitement was short lived. As Jon and I started the rehearsal process we quickly learned that this was not like any show we had ever been in. There was absolutely no discipline whatsoever and our directors seemed to not really know what they were doing. People seemed to come and go as they please and as we got into music rehearsals we were only taught the melody which I found completely ridiculous because I've been able to teach harmonies to choirs in an hour, but they said that we didn't have enough time to learn all of the harmonies because we only had a month to do rehearsals, but considering that we were called to rehearsals for a good three to four hours every night it seems stupid and lazy on the directors parts to not do their job of teaching us, so I took it on myself to learn the alto line since that seemed that that was going to be our only harmony in the show. Our directors decided that their idea of doing things for this show was to make it as "janky" as possible. So they would make inside jokes about everything. They had cross dressers for the pirates and the daughters which was a stupid idea, they decided that it would be funny to make our set out of cardboard, and make it look as ugly as they possibly could. We had no blocking or direction at all except to make it "as janky" and "as funny" as we possible could. The lead male was the brother of one of the directors and a junior in high school who couldn't make it to half of the rehearsals so not only did the other Mabel and I have to learn all of our parts without him when he finally did grace us with his presence we each only had a short time to actually work with him. It really was run horribly.
The pirates were made up of mostly young men (14 year olds) who didn't know how to control their impulses and said ridiculously stupid things and made idiotic comments most of the time. And the sisters were compiled of two girls that we became pretty good friends with and two girls who were very much adults (one was 20 and the other was 23) who did not like the rest of us, and who found enjoyment out of sitting on the laps of the 14 year olds and taking 'cutsie' pictures and getting attention from these boys who were much younger than them. It was extremely creepy to see grown women acting like school girls with these young boys. These girls couldn't stand a friend of Jon's and mine, and later we found out that they were telling everyone that we would bully them and were just so mean to them which never happened from my perspective because they wouldn't even look at us, nor talk to us. So I don't understand how we could have bullied them when they gave us the cold shoulder for all of the rehearsal process and performances.
Considering that our set was made out of cardboard (very horribly I might add, but apparently that was the "vision" that our directors were going for) and we were not disciplined whatsoever, and our music was horrible, and we had no direction at all. I was very embarrassed to be part of this show. Never before have I been so ashamed of a show that I've been a part of. Pirates of Penzance is actually quite a funny show, if you understand that type of humour. It's dry and extremely witty, but our directors changed so much to add in their own inside jokes and took out a lot of the smart humor. It's a funny show, but they degraded it and dumbed it down so much that it was not even funny anymore. It was just incredibly stupid. But of course half of our cast had not ever been a part of a truly well run production and so they thought that our directors were doing a fantastic job, and I feel so blessed to have worked with directors who actually know what they are doing and talking about, because you have to have the bad to truly appreciate the good.
Notes for rehearsals were also a complete joke, they consisted of nothing that we needed to actually work on, even though those of us who have really been in shows could see all of the blatant mistakes and wrongdoings going on with the whole show. What notes mostly entailed was how "amazing" we were and how our directors "nearly had a heart attack and died because it was so funny" and there was nothing that was actually note worthy, and yet, they managed to drag notes out for about an hour to two hours bragging about all of the things that they had done in previous shows and joking around with the brown nosing male lead who had a very creepy relationship with our director (not his brother) even though he claimed to have a girlfriend. It got to the point that Jon and I would just leave during the notes sessions, because they would just blather on for hours, and we had Liam with a babysitter at our house, so there was no way that we were willing to stay to listen to their idiotic statements about how amazing they were and just boasting themselves up til midnight or later. So it got to the point where Jon and I would leave after rehearsal because there was absolutely nothing that was worth staying for.
Our directors said at the very last rehearsal we had that they "turned the show over to us and they were no longer a part of it" So when Jon and I walked in the day that we were going to be opening our Major General handed Jon a can of spray paint and told him to go and add colour to what was supposedly a fountain. The group of us (which was a little more than half) that were not pleased with what was going on decided that since our directors had chosen not to be a part of the show that we would take matters into our own hands and so we banded together and Jon built a completely new set, and I painted it. It was definitely not our best work at all and had we had more than a couple days to build something it would have been much better, but we did as best we could in the time allotted. Of course, when the rest of the cast showed up the few who still believed that our directors did a fantastic job were not happy that we had taken liberties to change the set. That's when the coldness became even more icy, but honestly I didn't care. I'd have done it again. It's not fair for directors to make it so that their cast cannot be proud of the show that they are going to put on. I'm sorry, but when the main adjective used to describe a show is "janky" it's not going to be a good show or even a show that is going to deserve any kind of effort. I didn't give my all for any part of the show, and that kills me! Because I know that I didn't perform to my best ability and that makes me mad, to this day.
I definitely know that I am grateful for Alyn and for the way that she has taught me and how she is mentoring me right now! I learn more from her in one rehearsal than I did in the entirety of that show. This isn't even all of what went down with the show, but it's far too much to put into one blog post. I just know that I am past the point of being completely angry about it and so I needed to write down the experiences. Because even though it was the absolute worst show I've ever been a part of, I do need to be grateful that I had the experience so that I can truly appreciate all of the good shows I'll do in the future!