After the final performance of a theater play or musical show the cast and crew do something called a set strike. It’s exactly what it sounds like… you take the set apart, clean out the dressing rooms, backstage areas, etc., to make the theater look like it did before you started your show. When finished, it’s like you were never there. While there are no more traces of Chicago the Musical at Shreveport Little Theatre, the experience has left an indelible mark on my heart. I can say with all honesty and openness that this experience has been the most challenging and most rewarding onstage experience of my life. I have spent a lot of time on the stage, so that’s really saying something.
I wanted the role, and I set my sights on it. I knew I wasn’t in my best physical shape, due to age and a lot of hours in front of the television. I worked out some, sure, but hadn’t trained for anything in a while. So starting in February my treadmill and I got to be really good friends. Well, that’s not really accurate… I hate the stupid thing. But we spent a LOT of time together. I’d run for a few miles then lift weights. I was working out 4-5 days a week leading up to auditions which were April 11th and 13th.
The work paid off! I got the role. We didn’t start rehearsals until June 1, so to get a head start I went online and purchased the script. Along with my continued workouts, I memorized my lines and the music. I was pretty much off book by the time rehearsals began, which was a good thing, since I knew the dancing part of the show would be my biggest challenge. Also, the director/choreographer mentioned to me that she planned to make me tap dance… which I had NEVER EVER EVER done before. So I bought some tap shoes, took one lesson from a professional and learned everything else I possibly could from YouTube videos. I would spend HOURS in my garage tapping on a piece of hardwood plywood my husband bought me from Lowe’s. It turned out to be great exercise and FUN! (Now that the show is over I’m hoping to find a tap class in the area for grown-ish people… I don’t want to take lessons with a bunch of 5 year olds in pink tutus. That would be a little awkward and embarrassing.)
Once rehearsals started everything just fell into place. I’ve never loved a cast more, or shared a stage with a group of people who worked so hard or got along so well. The entire cast and crew showed up to rehearsals early, stayed late, respected each other, and had fun. I fell in love with my co-leads and miss them already. And our love for each other and for the show made it fun for our audiences, too; we sold out every show but one. And we performed 15 shows in 3 weeks, July 15 through August 2, which is a really long run for community theater.
THE LEAD ACTORS
MY PARTNER IN CRIME
Playing the role of Roxie Hart was Jenny Warren. I have to admit I was a little intimidated by Jenny in the beginning because I knew she had a gazillion years of dance training on her resume. But as it turned out, once I got to know her we had loads of fun together, even when our characters were supposed to hate each other onstage. There were a few times when I really had to work hard to hold back laughter during shows. Jenny is a tremendous actress and one who is very giving of herself. She worked SO hard and was the perfect Roxie; there is no one I would have rather shared the spotlight with. She is also such a joy to be around – so very funny, smart and quick-witted. Jenny moved to Seattle right after the show was over, which makes me sad. I hope she returns and we can share the stage again one day.
My buddy, Barbara Holmes, played the role of Matron Mama Morton. If you’ve never heard Barbara sing… holy Moses, you are missing out! That woman has the voice of an angel. Well, an angel with a really powerful, belty alto voice. She’s incredible. She also has the sweetest spirit… truly one of the nicest, kindest people you’ll ever meet. Barbara and I shared several scenes together and toward the end of the run, when we all became very comfortable in our roles, there were three or four times when I had to go hunt for her before our next scene. We laughed big over that. She’d be on the wrong side of the stage just watching the current scene, or backstage eating a snack… I’d find her and say “Well, are you going to join me onstage, or what?!” We would crack up laughing, and then step onto the stage and kill it.
LARGER THAN LIFE
I am so thankful to have been part of this production. I met many new friends, and I pray that one day I am able to work with them all again. Shout out to Shreveport Little Theatre for giving me such a wonderful opportunity. Until we meet again…