The Sound of Music Rehearsals: The Nunnery

Yesterday started out as a full-cast rehearsal. We all did warm-ups together — real, full warm-ups — for the first time, including some more name-learning. We then picked up where we left off with the read-through of the script. There was little left, so it took us less than an hour. Erin (the staging director) made some general comments about the direction she wants to take us in; she and Jaime (the stage manager) made some announcements regarding things they need from us.

My tendency to ask more questions than anybody else manifested itself in a slightly-amusing-but-slightly-exasperating fashion, as usual. I’ve resolved to try to rein my question-asking in a bit, writing down questions that apply only to myself or to a few people for later asking.

One of the cast members will be taking head shots of us for the programs, and we get to write bios to go next to them. I’ve seen many bios in programs over the course of my life; my favorite is that of a music student at UAF, who performs “on a 1986 larynx handcrafted with love (and shall we say by love) by [mother’s name] and [father’s name].” My current rough draft is less amusing than that:

Lena LeRay began acting at the early age of eight, making her debut as Monkey #1 in Alaska Theatre of Youth’s 1993 production of The Jungle Book. She participated in the drama club during her year of college-level student exchange in Kushiro, Japan, where she learned that literacy is an essential part of sight-reading a script (if having nothing to do with a balanced breakfast). This role in The Sound of Music is her first onstage role in nine years and her second role in a musical. A few of her favorite things are video games, great stories, and the Japanese tea ceremony.

After Erin finished announcements and answering [my] questions, a few people were called to work on songs with Justin (the musical director) and the nuns and postulants were called to work with Erin. She divvied us up, assigning us to specifically be postulants, novices, or nuns. I am a fully-sworn nun. I already knew that I would be, though. Somewhere along the line, I saw a list of cast members that had “postulant” next to my name, and after I mentioned that aloud Erin informed me that I would actually be a nun.

Last night, Erin encouraged us to start formulating the details of our personae, even though most of us have no lines. I’ve been doing some of that already, and given the foreknowledge that I would be a full-fledged nun I had already decided that I wanted to try to exude the sort of feel that I got from my tea ceremony teacher in Japan: warm and hospitable, a font of experience and knowledge, and free with smiles and encouragement when mistakes are made. My nun may end up being nothing like Ikushima-sensei, of course, but she is the inspiration. And the Japanese tea ceremony gives me a sense of peace and serenity that I imagine a nun gets from her religious life.

We blocked the first two nun group scenes, which will have Maria’s solo rendition of the musical’s theme song in between them, and proved to remember our songs quite well, considering the fact that they were performed a capella (as they should be) while simultaneously figuring out how to move to where we needed to be in a graceful and nunly fashion. Very promising. I’ve never worked under Erin as a director before, and I can already see why Shane calls her a “super-director”; she’s making creative use of the available space to capture the audience from the very first second.

Random Side Note: Erin’s told us about the set; it’s going to be badass. It’s so kick ass I’m not even going to tell you about it; you’ll have to either come see it or listen to me describe it after opening night. Well, I’ll give you one hint: one of my many questions for Erin last night was “Are the nuns going to start out in the set?” >:D

Nine years later edit (April 18, 2019): The stage had a large rotating portion. When they built the set, it was done in a slight V shape with one side meant to be the nunnery and one side the von Trapp mansion.

For the mansion side, we pulled archways out of the ends of the V to make it feel better. They had to be pulled out to extend the size because there was only so much room when the stage was rotating.

Things to do:

  • Research nuns: their rings, vows, history, the nuns of Nonnberg Abbey in particular, Catholic practices, etc.
  • Research names a nun might take (and if you have any suggestions, please let me know)
  • Final draft-ify that bio
  • Memorize my song lyrics and melodic lines (which I think I’ll have to do at the same time)

TBA Theatre’s Sound of Music Performance Schedule

Most of our performances will be of the full script and run about two and a half hours with an intermission. We are also doing some shorter shows, about an hour and a half with no intermission, during the day on weekdays. These shorter performances are intended for grade school field trips. Last I heard, which was last Thursday, there was still room unreserved in those performances. Interested parties should contact TBA Theatre.

Full-Script Shows:

Friday, May 7 at 7:00 PM
Saturday, May 8 at 3:00 PM, 7:00 PM
Sunday, May 9 at 3:00 PM

Friday, May 14 at 7:00 PM
Saturday, May 15 at 3:00 PM, 7:00 PM
Sunday, May 16 at 3:00 PM

School Shows:

Thursday, May 6 at 10:00 AM, 12:30 PM
Friday, May 7 at 10:00 AM, 12:30 PM

Thursday, May 13 at 10:00 AM, 12:30 PM
Friday, May 14 at 10:00 AM, 12:30 PM

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