Last night, we began our penultimate weekend of performances. The theater has added three shows to our run due to high demand, and all three fall in the final two weekends. As a result, we are currently in the middle of a string of 12 performances in 16 days.
Some people would balk at this; I, on the other hand, am thrilled to death. There’s nothing I love more than giving several performances in a row. It really turns a cast into a well-oiled machine, which is why opening weekend is always so good. Think about it: we do nothing but run through the show all week, over and over again until we get to opening night. If you see a show on its first public performance, then you really might be watching the sixth or seventh consecutive night in a row that the cast has done the show all the way through. That really irons out the kinks.
But then, after opening weekend, there’s a lull. Granted, it’s a much needed one, but the actors end up getting four or five days off where they don’t think about the show at all. They go back to their day jobs, they go home and rest, and they come back to the theater the following Friday just a little bit rusty. The first performance of the second weekend is often the worst one in the whole show’s run. But between January 30 and February 14, there will only be two occasions where the cast gets two days off. Every other day is a performance. No chance to get rusty there.
We rehearse and rehearse and rehearse, and this is the payoff. In my home state of Ohio, I performed in an outdoor Shakespeare festival for five years. We rehearsed for six weeks each summer, but gave only eight peformances over two weekends in July. One evening, black rain clouds loomed on the horizon, and I heard two actors praying that the show would be canceled so we could all go home. That boggled my mind. If these people didn’t want to perform, what were they doing there in the first place? We certainly don’t have that problem in Pick of the Vine. Everyone in the cast shows up eager and hungry to give a fantastic show, whether it’s opening night or the third matinee, the middle of the work week or Super Bowl Sunday. These people are here because they want to perform, and they make the most of every opportunity.
I must say that I enjoy performing on school nights. Yesterday, I was up at five o’clock for work, awake till after midnight because of the show, and up at five again this morning for work again, with another full day to go before the weekend. I like the duality of being both a day jobber and a moonlighter. Lots of people say they don’t know how we actors handle such a full schedule, but it’s what we live for. On January 17th, I performed in both a murder mystery play in Long Beach and Pick of the Vine on the same Saturday. One Saturday later, POV’s Chad Skiles left right after curtain call and drove to Hollywood to appear in a midnight performance of even more one-acts. Sure, we might complain from time to time, but it’s the exhaustion that makes us feel alive.
That, and of course, all the attention.