As Monday is the Saturday-equivalent for theater folk, I write now from what I imagine to be a quintessentially Californian coffee shop: warm, inviting, with truly delicious offerings and dulcet pan-ethnic music playing at the most appropriate of volumes. While there were but two free WiFi coffee shops in a twenty block radius of my former Hell's Kitchen, NYC, apartment, San Francisco is practically littered with them. It is emblematic of the vibe here: everything and everyone is open and giving. And I am so un-judged. I can just, like, drink coffee and use WiFi. Whatever, no pressure. Pay for internet? What?
I have just moved into my new apartment, and am having the most spectacular of Mondays off! But while I am now aboard the Good Ship Lollipop of San Franciscan Dreams and Ideals, it wasn't until today that I was free to disembark another, much more odious vessel: the rogue pirate ship known to locals as the Whitcomb Hotel (and known to WICKED cast members as "the Sh**comb").
Looking back on the past two weeks, I have concluded that the Whitcomb Hotel must be a parallel universe where all logic and practicality ceases to exist (that's right, I mix metaphors, like a literary bartender (<-- and embed bad similes for further confusion)). While, in a prior post, I referenced the indispensability of the Do Not Disturb sign, it turns out that, at The Whitcomb, you are actually supposed to put it on the door if you want someone to knock at 8AM. And if you want to chat on the phone? Well, every place in the hotel has cell reception except the rooms and hallways. Luckily, to compensate, I had the semblance of company: Room 265 was directly next to the snack, soda, and ice machines, which continuously rumbled such that, if I put my head under my pillow, the noise reminded me of a bustling freeway! Delightful!
Okay, I'm done with sarcasm. I loved staying at the Whitcomb. Okay, now I'm really done with sarcasm. Earnest reflection time: if living in a hotel for just two weeks drove me to feel a bit like this, I can't really imagine the kind of stubborn positivity one must practice in order to stay sane on a national theater tour, where hotel living and short-term sublets are ways of life. Granted, I think I had an unusually bad turn at the good ol' Sh**tcomb, but even still: I do admire and respect actors who are itinerant-lifestyle pros. It is definitely an acquired skill, and one on which I will continue to work...
Before I depart, a brief summary of last weekend's rehearsals and a preview of what's to come this week...
Had more staging rehearsal with Kristen and was joined by Jonathan, a swing who understudies every singing and dance track in the male ensemble (*insane talent alert*). As I was running each musical number (that's right, we've reached a point where I can just run straight through without stopping, which is extremely encouraging) Jonathan raced around the stage, doubling as every male person who ever interacts with me (which is to say, five to six different people, sometimes within one song!). Kristen did the same thing with each female character. It was a schizophrenic romp! But even having just one or two bodies around me allows me to imagine the scenes as they are during the actual show, which is invaluable.
My aunt and uncle were passing through San Francisco on a layover and caught the show Saturday night. This was exciting as I was able to take them backstage afterwards. It was a little surreal, as I was describing the backstage in terms I had only heard from others, since I'm not yet in the show. It was, nevertheless, pretty cool to feel like I was "in" on some cool theater secrets.
This week I will continue to drill, drill, drill, and since Laura Pugliese is leaving the show rather soon (several days before my put-in rehearsal and first performance), I will trail her backstage one of these upcoming nights. "Trailing" means you follow the cast member you're replacing throughout the entire show, being sure to watch all their numbers from the appropriate wing, then chase them offstage and along their backstage walking paths, carefully observing their costume, wig, and makeup changes.
I've already had one consultation with Joe the makeup designer (on ensemble makeup, no Elphaba stuff yet), and, believe it or not, the ensemble members do in fact have makeup changes-- mostly involving different color lipsticks and then, for the Act II "Mob Scene," the application of dark, bruise-colored eye shadow on their cheeks and foreheads. Pretty nifty.
I will be pleased to report back on each of these ventures!
Until then, dear friends, I remain your humble servant,