PCS Blog

Behind the Curtain

Posted by Kinsley Suer | 03 June 2013

Stage Manager Emily Wells chronicles her experiences during the seven-week rehearsal process for the world premiere musical Somewhere in Time.
Week 1: New York City!
We’re spending our first two weeks of rehearsal in New York City with the cast and creative team. Although the creative team has been working on the show through several drafts, this week will be spent introducing the cast to the script and music.
Rewrites galore! Every day this week we’ve received new pages of the script from Ken Davenport, the book writer, and new pages of music from Doug Katsaros, our composer. Each page is copied for the cast, writers and creative team. On average, we are making 25 copies of each new page. That’s quite a Kinko’s bill!
Week 2: New York City
After a full week of learning music, workshopping some choreography and working on scenes, the director, music supervisor and cast are preparing for two industry readings before we hit the road to Portland. The actors will read and sing from their scripts, with only basic staging to indicate place or relationship to the scene. Broadway theater professionals and producers will be invited to the readings.
We’re still incorporating changes to the text, too. It always amazes me how quickly actors can adapt to new material and incorporate it into the existing framework of the play.
Week 3: On to Portland!
At last! We are thrilled to get started here in Portland this week. With a mostly New York City-based cast and creative team, it’s easy for work outside of the show to take priority when rehearsing “at home.” Now that we have the full company here in Portland, there’s definitely a more focused atmosphere in the rehearsal room. The director and choreographer are beginning to stage the show.
We’re working in two rehearsal spaces for at least half of the rehearsal day. Music or scene work in one, and choreography in the other. More rewrites. It’s so nice to have a big, big copier at our disposal.
Weeks 4 – 6: Portland!
We continue to stage the play. Some small fixes and adjustments almost every day. One of the most fun things to watch is the composer, Doug, in the room with the choreographer and cast working on a dance break for a big ensemble number. Doug will play something and the choreographer, John Carrafa, will listen, then try out a few steps.
Our final week in rehearsal we are doing many runs of the show – start to finish – with as few stops as possible. This gives the cast a chance to feel the rhythm of the show and the entire creative team to see their work in context. For the stage managers, it’s an opportunity to time the fast costume changes and set changes that we’ll face next week and into performances.
Week 6 finishes with a “sitzprobe” – German for a seated rehearsal, during which the cast and orchestra rehearse together for the first time. On a new show, this rehearsal is particularly exciting as it is also the first time the composer will hear the orchestrations with voices! There are lots of “oohs” and “ahhs” as we hear the full sound of the music fill the rehearsal hall.
The Somewhere in Time Sitzprobe. Photo via Hannah Elless.
Week 7: Portland
It’s tech week. All the technical elements will be added: scenery, lights, sound, costumes and orchestra. All of the technical departments have worked hard since the closing night of Clybourne Park to get ready for this day. An amazing feat in two weeks time!!
There’s something incredibly special about bringing a new story to life on the stage. Everything is new – the script, the music, the dance routines. Writers often work on the material for several years before it’s ready to be read or sung by actors and realized into a full production. Starting with the book (or script), the librettist will structure the musical based on the plot of the story, sometimes even highlighting big emotional moments where the spoken word is no longer adequate – and the character MUST sing or dance instead.
Audiences are a big part of this process too – experiencing the musical for the first time on stage! Enjoy the show.
Comments (1)

It was WELL worth all the trouble! I enjoyed Saturday’s performance very much.

Congratulations to everyone involved!

  • David
  • Portland, OR
  • 05 Jun 13 10:23

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