I’m sitting in the Masonic Theater, waiting for rehearsal to begin for “Angels in the Trees: Rockwell Kent in Winona.” There are two younger people—maybe SMU students—on stage, putting together a platform they have built. The girl has a battery-operated drill, and they are bolting the pieces.
Over the sound of the drill, the musicians are warming up—Nancy Edstrom Bachler on piano, Tom Dukich on accordion, Jessica Hosch on flute, and Rachael Ryan Dahlgren on cello. They don’t forget their lines like we do! Actors in small groups go over their lines—Carew and Keara, David and Karen, the stars of the show, who play Rockwell and Kathleen Kent, Alex and Martha Geckler. Others walk in and out in costumes they are trying on for the first time. Everyone is getting nervous, because opening night is Thursday. The author, Lynn Nankivil, is here, going over lines with her husband, Ken McCullough, who also has a part in the play.
The sound man is set up and waiting patiently. The lights are set, and they have hung the drop that the actors will have to walk behind to get from one side of the stage to the other. I’m hoping I don’t trip and ruin everything. Those of us with fewer lines are milling about, wanting things to get going. The director, Judy Myers, is talking to various technicians, and the costumers run around with clothes draped over their arms, looking for the actor to match the clothes. I thought I was going to be looking pretty swell in my costume until they told me they are making additions to it to make me look more “tawdry!”
Now the director calls out for people to take their places. We all scurry backstage. For the first time all night, it is quiet. Then the musicians play an introduction for the chorus, and it begins. The director and stage manager and her assistant are sitting at a long table set up in the audience. When an actor forgets what he is supposed to say, he says, “line!” and the assistant reads his line to him.
On the first night with the platform, costumes, and sound (especially the thunder and the gunshot!) people are concentrating on how to get where they are going without tripping, so they are forgetting lines more often. The stage manager will take notes, and if we drop a line, or paraphrase it (a no-no), we will get a note by email to let us know she noticed and we have something to work on before the next rehearsal.
Just about everyone involved has a day job, and there is a general feeling that although we are having a lot of fun, we are anxious for opening night. We have been rehearsing every night from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. No one is getting enough sleep—especially me, who is an eight-hour-a-night-person.
I found out today that Margaret Johnson, who was our German language coach (I don’t have German lines, but many do) is also in charge of concessions, and has arranged with Jefferson’s to provide German beer and wine, big German pretzels, and Black Forest chocolate cake for audience members. Too bad the actors won’t get any!
Tickets are available at brownpapertickets.com