Thursday, July 10, 2008

Traffic of Our Stage: R&J Opening!

Following the successful opening night of its sister production, Romeo and Juliet also received an immensely warm welcome. Approximately 50 audience members, including many families and/or picnickers (ranging in age from under 10 to over 60), joined us in the grass in front of Benedict for our momentous first performance. We knew we would have many familiar with the play while others would be seeing/hearing it for the very first time! Fortunately the rainy weather that persisted earlier in the week subsided as expected and, while humid early on, the evening was cool and clear.

After two nights off (for most), the cast was ready to spring back into action, and yet there was a bit of surrealism surrounding the fact that the final dress rehearsal and the initial performance had been separated in such a fashion. At first it was hard to believe we'd reached our opening night! But as ever, we adjusted and moved forward. The evening followed the previously-rehearsed pattern of dressing at Babcock, warm-ups along the walk to Benedict, and participation in fight call. As the ticket and concession stands were set up and props began to be placed, the playing area felt understandably much busier; final preparations were under way.

Endstation Theatre board member Lynn Kable and Scenic Designer Krista Franco
attend to the the ticket/program table

Early picnickers Nancy Kershner and (The Bluest Water playwright) Jason Chimonides

At about 6:30, a group of performers was chosen to place themselves at various designated points of access for pre-show greetings and direction of patrons to the ticket table. This was enjoyable as it gave us our first glimpses of many who chose to spend their evening with us, and some initial fun interaction. As more audience members arrived, some with lawn chairs, still others with coolers or baskets, the ground behind the green ropes marking the audience section began gradually to fill in like a jigsaw puzzle.

As showtime came and we performers took our places, we finally experienced the uniqueness that sitting on the grass near the audience provided, as they were abuzz with general conversation/anticipation directly within earshot. Finally, as the curtain speech was given by Artistic Director Geoff Kershner and the doors swung open for the Prince's Prologue, a hush fell over the audience in a silence that signified their instant attentiveness as those famous opening words were uttered.

The Montague-side actors' blankets and benches

Our audience!

More audience!

And so we began. Romeo and Juliet: performance #1!!


Nurse and Juliet

Friar Lawrence marrying Romeo and Juliet in secret!

Mercutio antagonizing Tybalt

... what, you expect me to tell everything that happens?
Come see the show! :)

Playing in such an intimate space was a joy as expected, and being able, while "off-stage" on the 'partisan blankets', to enjoy the scenes along with the audience was a treat as well. Those watching the play were engrossed and reactive throughout, and the production went as smoothly as we could have dreamed. They laughed, they gasped, they cried. It was a success.

It is always a pleasure to be able to tell that playgoers have genuinely enjoyed the production put on for them, and tonight was no exception. Their warm applause and heartfelt comments afterwards let us know for sure: we have an amazing production, and we're in for an amazing run! A huge thank you goes out to all who joined us for our special first performance, and to the many who plan to come yet!

Jared M Anderson
Endstation Blogger

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