Community theater is just chock full of human drama… who the hell knew?
We’re two weeks into rehearsals for the show. Done with basic blocking, sing-throughs of almost all songs, and had our second choreography session last night. My character is one of three trailer park women who serve as narrators throughout the show. It’s me, The Diva (who got the role i wanted) and AU – a charming, adorable and smart 21 year old math education major at a local university.
We tell the story through snarky commentary, challenging harmonies and complex rhythms, tossed lightly with some doo-wop girl dance moves! Big, big fun!
The choreographer is good – creative and uses our bodies to tell the story, without being overly lame and cheesy. She is also a good teacher, given that the three of us are not trained dancers, that’s pretty important! On the first song we were learning last night, she had us doing some cool ‘doo wop’ girl stuff, shaking our butts and flapping our hands behind us – what AU called “the fart fan”).
AU and i were having fun with it, trying to synchronize the hips and hands and see if we could get it working right at tempo. The Diva? Wasn’t even trying to get it. She was just standing there, obviously irritated, the choreographer gave up, taking things down a bit – “forget the hands, let’s just do the hips…”
After learning the first routine, our Diva bitched all the way through the break. “This is hard”, “I can’t remember all this!”, “I was misinformed – I didn’t know there’d be this much dancing, i thought it was all music….” on and on and on… My favorite? “Why can’t we just stand and sing?” The choreographer reminded her “that would be boring!” The Diva said “I wouldn’t be bored!” A smiling choreographer, holding her ground, said “What about the audience?” HA!
We made it through the two new dance routines, and since the one we’d learned last week was pretty complicated, we wanted to run it again. AU and i were able to muddle through much of it. We had been doing this crazy thing on our own time. It’s called “practice”. We had worked on the rough segments, one particularly vexing series of moves that have to take place really fast. So we were able to actually DO that part last night!
The Diva watched this, and became damn near inconsolable “But I can’t even remember what we did last time! I can’t practice it if I can’t remember it?” [AU and daisyfae staring, blinking…]
So we went through the entire song again. AU and i got most of it down. The Diva picked up a few things, but got very frustrated and stopped trying. Just stood there, completely pissed off. Unable to take it any more, She blurted out “I can’t do these dances! I wasn’t informed that this show would be so complicated – it was supposed to be just music!”
AU told me later that little puffs of steam were coming out of my ears, and my jaw was locked and grinding. We then spent about 20 minutes reassuring Her that She could do it, that these were the tough songs, that She’d be fine, that muscle memory is what is required, that it’s only been two rehearsals and we’ve got lots of time to keep working on it and blah, blah, fucking blah, blah…
i felt compelled to say the following – which may have been the best acting performance of my life: “Diva, i have absolutely no doubt You can do this, and You’re going to be fantastic! i’ve seen You do amazing things, and there’s nothing here You can’t do!”
No. i didn’t vomit. Not even a little bit…
The mollycoddle session ended when The Diva left, nearly in tears. The Director mentioned that he’s seen Her do this before. “Everything comes so easily for Her. EVERYTHING in Her life. She’s not used to working for it…”. Yep. She’s married to a successful attorney, five lovely adult children, a ‘hobby’ job to keep Her busy…
On the way to the parking lot, AU said “wanna drink?” Ummmm, let me think about that for a nanosecond… i introduced AU to my favorite biker bar, which just happens to be across the street from the theater. Four cans of $1 beer and 4 cigarettes later? We felt better. Spleens vented, serious bonding over life, the universe – and our shared “trailer park” family histories….
We’re going to have a blast with this show. i’m working really hard on the choreography. Ain’t no doubt, i’m kickin’ some freakin’ Diva Ass in the dance department…