So how was my first run on an L.A. stage? It’s been great. Truly.
Earlier this week, I was in more of my natural element: a television soundstage. 12 hour day (usually the minimum), even with digital technology, at least 45 minutes between each setup to (hopefully) capture five minutes of usuable footage.
You use the same toolbox to build a character, but the stage experience is different in every other important way. You’re on for two hours every night the show plays, ideally the person in the back row has to hear every word and see every gesture as clearly as the person in the front row. You space out and forget your line or your cue, you come up with something else immediately or hope your scene partner bails you out.
The above is just stage acting; now let’s talk about the play I’m in. First with live comedy, have to stay in character. Drama is the same sure, but when you’re telling jokes, and your scene partner loses it, or you just get the giggles, you have to commit. In this cast/show, I am the ‘Host’, so I have the easiest load to carry. In sports/music terms, keep the show going, don’t take anything off the table. If the audience wants to laugh, let them laugh; if they’re ‘too’ quiet, up the improv ante to try to warm them up. In the audition and rehearsals I did impersonations of Denzel and Morgan Freeman, but let’s be honest: Samuel L. Jackson and Chris Rock are naturally more ‘theatrical’, and if you’ve seen the show, they work better for the ‘role’. I still have no ambition to do stand up, but after doing this show I have to admit I feel more confident I ‘could’ do it, even if I was telling killer jokes in front of a sold out crowd who refused to laugh (which happened one night during our run).
In character, I’m supposed to be at the Theatre ‘because I owed someone a favor’, I’m supposed to be surly and undersell the jokes and the talent of the rest of cast, just in every way possible, I’m pissed to be roped into the show. Basically, the exact opposite of how I truly feel, so you could say I have the hardest acting job in the cast. (See what I did there?)
But seriously, the reviews back it up, everyone who has come down has backed this up: it’s a fun show with a very talented cast. Once in a while I betray my character and smile, but it’s still fun to watch the scenes play out, and to hear the songs sung. Out of character, I’ve very much become a fan of everyone in the cast (and crew) individually, and hope to work with each of them again.
And Natalie, honey, if you’re not campaigning for Obama this weekend, you should get a sitter and come down. I’ll comp you front row…