Well folks, we're up and running!
Previews have started. For those who don't know, previews are public performances that critics are not invited to attend. It's a time to get used to working in front of an audience, to see what works and what doesn't, what needs to get fixed before the critics come in for opening. (Generally, previews are cheaper than performances after opening night, but not in Vegas.)
Anyway, our previews have been just amazing. But to appreciate how great they were, let's back up to Wednesday tech rehearsal before previews.
It was horrible. An absolute nightmare. Tech stuff (and there's a LOT of it) wasn't working at all, and the constant stopping and starting hugely affected the amount of enrgy and life we were putting into the show. And, like a horrible sort of Groundhog Day, we would keep starting at the beginning every day (even though we'd only get through about half the show), so it was like we couldn't remember how the show ended. Honestly, some of the cast members, myself included, privately asked one another, "I wonder how many previews we're gonna have to cancel?" or "I wonder what tech elements will have to be entirely scrapped?" It was an incredibly demoralizing day, capping off an incredibly demoralizing week or so.
But by Thursday, Ben the director was saying "I have never seen such a quantum leap of progress in my life." It was astounding. It was as if after Wednesday's trainwreck, every single person in the theater said to himself, "I'm gonna take it upon myself to do as perfectly as possible -- even if everything around me is shite, I will be perfect." And we seriously came though. We hadn't had a full run-through in 3 weeks, and Thursday we got through TWO. And when there was a tech mishap (which, as far as I could tell, wasn't very often), we didn't even pause -- we pushed through, and the awesome tech crew always eventually righted it. Honestly, I was nearly brought to tears by the spirit and heart of our company.
But by the end of the night, as happy as we were, we were TIRED. We got our notes from the Associate Director and Choreographer, and we really wanted to go home. But then we were told Brian May of Queen wanted to make some musical adjustments, so we were told to hang out and wait for him (no telling how long) to come tell us what they were. I for one was not thrilled -- I wondered why someone else couldn't just give us the notes and let us be on our tired way. But finally Brian got there, and he was like, "I need to hear the harmony for the Graceland bit". So the assistant musical director hums the intro bars, and we were expected to get our harmony from that. Obviously, we couldn't do it. It was silly. There's a huge difference between 1) having your intro be some notes on a piano and 2) having a dude go, "Da da da da DA. GO." So finally, Brian said, "Let me go get my guitar."
Holy Crap. We're about to sing accompanied by BRIAN MAY on guitar. So he comes back, and plucks out a few bars on the guitar, and of course we nail the harmony. Then he says he has some major notes on the song Fat Bottom Girl. But then to really get the adjustments down, we have to do it several times. No one has any complaint. We are rockin out to a kick-ass Queen song, with Brian May playing acoustic guitar. It was SO FUCKING COOL. Everyone was whipping out cameras, and I told my buddy Derek to stand so that I could get him and Brian in the same shot. Suddenly several other people wanted to stake out that position as well. Probably not the goal of the rehearsal to "get a cool shot of me and Brian", but it was too cool a moment to not preserve. It was funny too, the only way to do it was to have Derek in the foreground, sort of pointing over his shoulder saying, "Look what's goin on behind me!" It's a pretty cool and funny picture. Oh and BTW, not only did Brian's notes make the song better, they made it much more fun to sing.
So we kept going, had some invited dress rehearsals over the weekend (my brother came to one and said he loved it!), and had our first preview on the 16th.
That night was electric. We had come so far in the past few days, everyone was holding their breath hoping that we could maintain our momentum. When the very first tech cue of the night stalled, and we had to hold for a couple minutes, I'm sure there were some worried people in the theater, but for some reason, I took it as a sign that we were gonna be OK. Boy was I right. The audience was packed, and there were tons of boisterous Queen/WWRY die hards in the audience, some who'd come from as far as the UK. The whole show went off without a hitch. Huge laughs. Cheers. Ovations for certain jokes. Everyone was on their game. It was spectacular. We had TWO standing ovations. When the curtain went down we all looked at each other in amazement of what we had accomplished.
Then we had an awesome party. Oh, awesome. Party + Nevada sunrise = awesome.