OK! I’m back in the office the day off after the first week of rehearsal! Was just talking with Jim Jarvis, VP of Marketing, as he came in to ask me how it’s going. Found myself telling him of the reward in working with our wonderful cast. The emotional depth and richness of the relationships are stunning us. Peter Kevoian’s “Tevye” in a sequence with his daughter “Tzeitel”, Kelley Abell, cannot bear the pledge she has made to marry “Motel”, Skyler Adams. Peter, vehemently, passionately sings in glorious voice, a direct address monologue to the audience, “…some things I cannot, I will not allow…marriages must be arranged by the Papa! This can never be changed!” Kelley and Skyler stand in the background there vulnerable at once fearful and hopeful. Peter turns to them and sings, “But look at my daughter’s face…look at my daughter’s eyes…” And we lose it. He sobs. Has to stop. The room takes on this energy. How our hearts break in conflict like this. In our families. Our churches. Our communities. The air changes. The light in the room seems different. I’m fighting back tears. And we go on.
Same thing at the end of Act I. The pogrom. Sarah Ross, Props Designer, comes in to see the scene. The challenge is to effect visually, physical danger and violence. Table settings, furniture, and wedding gifts must appear to be destroyed. Sarah advises the actors on how things break apart. Rose Packer, Production Stage Manager, cautions everyone to be safe as we choreograph the attack and the knocking out of “Perchik,” Jim DeSelm. We practice the moves slowly, with a rhythm for precision and safety. Then do it again. And again. And then, I say, “Alright, everyone feel good to go? Let’s go for it.” Choreographer, Gordon Schmidt, gets the company into the joyous peak of The Wedding Dance, and Richard Marlatt, The Constable, walks in with his men. They tear the place apart. It is fast, furious. Done. I choke at the sight of these people standing there shouting, screaming, helplessly watching this be done to them. And we go on.
To be a director in this work, learning, discovering what makes a show a classic…it’s greatness, its universality being revealed as we all collaborate to work on it…for all its familiar clichés, it’s like we are seeing it for the first time. Rewarding work. And ever grateful.
See ya next week!