What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Stranger

The Measurement Miscalculation (Or Dimensions Off) June 17, 2015

Filed under: Hi-Ho the Glamorous Life — meganorussell @ 10:00 am
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There is an old vaudeville theatre about forty-five minutes from my house. It’s a great old space, and for years different groups have been trying to revive it.

A few years ago, a company was doing pretty well with the space. They had managed to survive and pay their actors for more than a year! Woot woot! I was visiting my Mom  for about two weeks, so we decided to get tickets to go see their production of Noises Off.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the wonderment that is Noises Off, it’s a farce about the tribulations of putting up a show. First, you see the rehearsal onstage, then the set rotates and you get to see the backstage mayhem. It’s an amazing show, and the rotating set is the icing on the cake.

The old vaudeville theatre had a raked stage, and I was really interested in seeing how they could make the set rotate on an angled floor. Well, a few days before we were supposed to go see the show, we got a call from the theatre: they had cancelled the opening week’s shows, but we could feel free to come the next week. We were still going to be around, so we changed our plans and went a week later.

We got to the theatre lobby, and there were all sorts of chatter going on. Apparently, they had had to cancel the entire first week of performances due to technical issues. And by technical issues, I mean they built the set too big to rotate. (more…)


Eye Contact Evasion June 15, 2015

As a part of the show that I’m doing this summer, we do a little melodrama section.  The audience gets to “Booo,” and everyone loves it. Two lucky men are chosen to have a gun fight, and then one comes up on stage. My character is in love with the, now dead, gunman, and part of the script is that I kiss him. Not on the mouth. Even Julia Roberts doesn’t do that. First, I give him a peck on the cheek. The man usually blushes, and the narrator of the melodrama tells me to kiss him again. So I kiss Mr. Gunman on the top of the head.

That usually gets a little titter from the audience.

Then the narrator says, “Oh come on, let’s see that again.”

And I spin in, perch on that lucky gunman’s lap, clap a hand over my mouth, and pretend to make out with that audience member like it’s the last dance at prom.

That right there is the most awkward part of my job. It’s not the thigh strength I takes to pretend to sit on someone’s lap. It’s not the occasional stank breath from the old men. It’s when my victim tries to look me in the eyes. The scenario usually goes one of three ways:

1) Old man looks me straight in the eye, clearly terrified of me and afraid I might be the last thing he ever sees. (more…)


A Final Farewell August 4, 2014

A few weeks ago, an actor I have worked with in the past put a post up on Facebook. She had been diagnosed with ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease. Her case was advanced, and she would soon have to delete her Facebook account. She said not to feel sorry for her. She had had an amazing life.

Part of me wants to say that she was a great friend and mentor and that the thought of losing her was devastating. But that would be a lie, and she deserves better than that. We did something like 160 performances together. We even lived together for awhile, but we were never close. I was her dance captain, and she had problems remembering her spacing and choreography, as minimal as it was. I couldn’t understand how someone could be in the business for that long and not know how to stand on eight.

None of us knew, not even her, that she was at the early stages of her illness. (more…)


And Then the Track Broke December 18, 2013

Filed under: Hi-Ho the Glamorous Life — meganorussell @ 10:00 am
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I once performed in a Christmas show. Well, really I’ve done lots of Christmas shows, but this was the campiest by far. The show was written specifically for one time use by this theatre. It was a story about how home is the most important place on Christmas. It was filled with all the standard Christmas songs, lots of happiness, and love. It snowed at the end, and Santa saved the day. Everything you need in a home grown Christmas show. Unfortunately, the set was cursed. (more…)


Blue Screen of Death: Stage Edition November 16, 2013

Filed under: Hi-Ho the Glamorous Life — meganorussell @ 10:00 am
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Stage magic is hard. When you go to see a show, you see performers dancing on stage as the sets glide (hopefully) on and off stage. What you don’t see is the Tetris of set pieces backstage that the performers have to try not to trip on while stripping in the wings to get ready for their next entrance.

One theatre I worked at had almost no wing (off stage) space. So, they used a lot of projections. It was actually really cool. We would have tables and chairs and things, but the background was all really neat projections.

Then, as always, things went horribly wrong. (more…)


Barnum Boobs June 19, 2013

Filed under: Hi-Ho the Glamorous Life — meganorussell @ 10:00 am
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The summer after my freshman year of college I worked at a small summer stock theatre. It was a theatre in the round, which means that the audience sits on all sides, and the stage is only about two-and-a-half feet high. One of the shows I did that summer was Barnum, which is about the life of circus legend P.T. Barnum. We did some crazy things in that show. (more…)