And STILL more things that will happen at rehearsal…

The score won’t match…

When doing a MUSICAL…. or even a Play with Music… I promise you that whatever they have said in the script or written in the score – IF there IS a score… will not match any of the following…

a) the CD

b) the current script

c) the director’s vision

e) all of the above

Add to that… the cd won’t match…anything. Frequently it is a concept CD and that means it is very, VERY different from the production you are doing. The production that got altered before Broadway, before the Tour, after the Tour and before the release to amateur companies. It will be extremely different. Don’t count on it – in fact… the best advice is don’t use it. At best it is a basic, simple reference. Move on.

The script will NOT make sense… why would it? I mean, you paid for it, so it should… but believe me, it won’t. There will be typos for sure, but then there will also be ridiculous stage directions – that can only be done on MASSIVE Broadway budgets – and even then they are probably stupid stage directions, so Ignore them and do your own thing. Aside from that… there will be lines attributed to the wrong character or a missing character or someone you didn’t know was in the show… (seriously… ALL of these have happened in shows for which I have paid royalties to perform “their script word for word”) There may EVEN be stage directions that appear as dialogue… yup.

$h!t will be missing… Like a song you expected… or a character in the description list will be missing from the show… or an ENTIRE scene.. yup, once a script went from scene 7 to 9. We all wondered “What happened in Scene 8?”

Here’s the thing…. you roll with the punches, you do what is necessary to create your vision, you IGNORE the stage directions – and if possible, get your cast to ignore them as well and you make the best show you can. Even if it means you have to tweak a few things. Tweak away and get that show done!


Auditions: The Callback – getting ready on both sides of the table…

So, you’ve made it through all the auditions and now you have to prepare for the callbacks… What the heck, you say? More auditions – yes… sorry, more auditions.

So, if you are behind the table, what do you ask them to do? What do have prepared for them? What are you looking for from these talented people? Do you have a list prepared? Are you ready to make the tough decisions? Do you even need to have the callbacks? And if you decide that you do, can you ensure that the process is rewarding for your actors and everyone else involved? Cause it isn’t an easy time, so at least make it fun!

FIRST – be sure you have some material ready from the show (this goes back to making sure you read the script, right?), material that is challenging, fun and will show you what you need to see to make your decisions.

SECOND – have that material prepared and ready to share with your people. Is it digital? Copies? How many? Do they need accompaniment? Can you provide it for them to prepare? What is the easiest, and classiest, way to share this with your people? Whatever you do, don’t make it difficult for your actors to prepare. Ensure that they have a really good experience getting ready to sing, dance or act for you. They might not make it to the finish line, so you want them to at least have a good time at the race.

THIRD – be ready to make choices. The choices are tough and if you agonize over them too long you will start to second guess yourself. This is dangerous. Go with your gut. Return to your list of a dream cast, return to your notes and continually tell yourself…. “I have to judge them based on what they showed me today at these callbacks.” That’s all you can do. Then, make the decision and be ready to back it up.


So, what if you are on the other side of the table?

FIRST – celebrate!!! You’ve been asked to a callback. That’s impressive. No matter what the role or what you were hoping for from the audition team. You impressed them enough that they wanted to see more, so feel good about that.

SECOND – prepare! No matter what your hopes are for the show, prepare yourself to show your best performance and in your best light. You might not get the role, you might not even get the show, but if you impress, it could bode well for your future. You could be offered a role from the very first audition the next time the team sees you – people remember good work and professionalism.

THIRD – have a good time! The audition is your time to play. To show off your skill and to explore a character you may or may not get to play. Have a good time and don’t consider the outcome, you can’t control that, you can only control what you put into the audition and how you feel about it. Make it the best you can and be proud of whatever comes from it!

So, people… what are you waiting for? You’ve got to get ready, don’t you?!?

First Preview Night

So… we’ve made it through tech weekend – pretty near flawlessly.

We survived our black out in the middle of dress rehearsal last night and now we are at First Audience. My theatre does something we call Community Preview where at our Final Dress Rehearsal we invite, for free, members of our community who would not otherwise attend the theatre. They come in groups, because they are all members of groups – special homes, they have care-givers or case workers, etc. They mostly know one another – and yet they all sit spread through the theatre. It’s fascinating. Our house seats over 350 and tonight I see about 100 folks spread throughout the house, but they are all talking to one another – some across the rows and some from the back to the front of the theatre. It should be a lively night.

Two years ago, at our Community Preview for The Three Musketeers (the first in my Ken Ludwig Trilogy), near the end Milady was about to poison Constance with a beverage she said would calm her nerves. Someone in the audience yelled out, “Don’t Drink It!” They are a fun crowd and anything can happen.

Tomorrow night is Preview and then Friday is Opening Night! Months and Months and Months of rehearsal and it will all be over in the blink of an eye…. But that’s part of why it’s so addictive. The payoff is, generally huge enough to balance the effort.

I know I’m going to enjoy the payoff of this piece.

Here’s to a successful run!

Break your legs!



To sum up… What makes the best…? (Part 10)

Good people. That’s what you need more than anything is good people who are willing to give their time to a project. Then you got to let them run with it! Give them the tools to succeed, support them and believe in them.


This community of theatre we work in is so accepting, so dynamic and so very, very rewarding. Take a chance on a new role in theatre. Push yourself to succeed and then give someone near you a push as well. You’ll never know what you can accomplish until you try.

The theatre needs you. It needs you to perform, to produce, to create, to direct, to sew, to dance, to sing, to sell, and most importantly, it needs you to attend and support the creative efforts of your community. So get out there and get involved. You won’t be sorry.

Share these with your friends and get them to join you in your love of theatre – they won’t be sorry either.

Part 10=People

Part 9=Actors

Part 8=Directors

Part 7=Music Directors

Part 6=Choreographers

Part 5=Lighting Designers

Part 4=Costume Designers

Part 3=Set Designers

Part 2=Stage Managers

Part 1=Producers

What makes the best…?(Part 9)



“What I really want to be… is an Actor.”

Really? Are you sure?

No really? Are you? Cause here’s the deal. It’s a tough job. Sure it can be fun, rewarding and at times even lucrative, but acting is one of the toughest gigs in the whole business of show. Here’s why…

You have to be ready for rejection. Lots of it. Daily. You not only have to be ready for it, you have to almost crave it. You have to be prepared to seek out criticism so that you can grow from it and improve. Not everyone has the guts for that. It’s tough to get rejected at your work on a regular basis and still want to do it each day.

You have to know how to act. And no, people are not just born with “it”. I don’t believe that. You can learn it. Sure, some folks have an innate quality that draws us to their performances, but if you want to be good, and I mean really good, then you’ve got to practice and learn and study and get rejected. And then start all over again. That is the only way to get really good.

You have to do it all – especially these days as film, television and stage demands are so much greater. You have to act, sing, dance, tumble, do voices, fight, crochet, whatever! You’ve got to be able to do it. And not just SAY you can do it, you’ve got to be skilled at it, or don’t say that you are.

You’ve got to be ready to take risks. No everyone was born with a voice ‘like buttah…’ but if you want to act, you’ve got to sing. No actor made a good living staying away from singing. Get some lessons. Learn some repetoire, develop a taste for musicals and Gilbert & Sullivan and all the rest. Know the material and know your strengths and then keep practicing them. Ditto for dance. And whatever other skill you want to put on the bottom of that resume.

When you do get a part, be fun to work with – for heaven’s sake! You want to work again, don’t you? Be on time, be organised, take notes, be prepared and learn your part. Come with ideas and be willing to play, but be ready for a vision that you weren’t expecting and go with it! Nothing pleases an artistic team more than a flexible actor who is willing to grow.

So, if out of all these roles in the 9 parts of this series, if THIS one still stands out for you above all else, then go for it. With gusto. Cause that’s the only way you are going to have any success!

Break a leg!

What makes the best…?(Part 6)



There are lots of skills necessary to be a great Choreographer. Obviously a knowledge of and experience in dance is necessary and in my book, the wider the knowledge base, the greater the scope for creation. Skill as a dancer is also useful, but exceptional skill may not be necessary. Many great Choreographers have become so after dance careers that may have been less than stellar – but their passion for the art form has kept them returning to the craft and led them to find other ways to contribute.

Here’s an interesting article on that take:

For Choreographic work in Theatre the skills are specific. The dance should, whenever possible, further the story or service the plot in some fashion. While the style may still be presentational, it should fit within the world of the play or musical. While I enjoy the acrobatics and technique of a superbly performed routine, I will always appreciate movement that tells us about character and storyline to showy moves. When superb technique is available and can be crafted and utilized to further the character and plot, then exceptional choreography is taking place and can be transformative for the audience.

Knowing when to keep it simple is also a great skill. There are times when the character or performer or moment in the story needs very little movement to garner a reaction with the audience. Knowing how & when to make use of simple movements to “move” and audience is an essential skill for a choreographer.

Speaking a language that the team can understand is vital. Dancers have knowledge of specific terminology and a shorthand that may mean nothing to the Musical Director or the Stage Manager or even some of the performers. A good Choreographer will have the skills to communicate their work and their needs for support in design and vision to the entire production.  For example, the ability to read music is essential for strong communication with the team.

The next time you are in an audience, ask yourself to analyse what the choreographer has assembled. Does it speak to you? Did it help you understand or appreciate the story or the characters? Did it “move” you? If so, then you were witnessing some great Choreography.