Spring musical finale: It's finally, unfortunately, over
By Michelle Gao
Gargoyle assistant editor
Posted Tuesday, April 17, 2007, The OG, features
[Note: Junior Michelle Gao is a cast member of Uni High's spring musical, Cole Porter's “Anything Goes.” Last week she gave us a firsthand look at what goes on behind the scenes as cast and crew work to put on the best show they can. Today she wraps up her series by looking back at the final days of the memorable production. Click here for Sunday's entry, here for Monday's, here for Tuesday's, here for Wednesday's, here for Thursday's, and here for Friday's.]
IT'S ALWAYS SAD when a show is over. I realized as I got out of the car Monday morning that I would have nothing to do after school. No rehearsal. I would actually have time to do my homework. But I would not have a huge group of people to chill with and talk to.
It really is slightly upsetting.
But maybe it's a good thing. I need at least a week to feel untired again. I need time to get out of musical withdrawal. Friday and Saturday made me realize all over again why I love theater so much.
Friday after school everyone finds a ride to get to The Courier Café in downtown Urbana. I walk with Karen Han, James Smith, Zack Goldberg, and Daniel Borup to Daniel's car. We all squeeze in, and take off.
Daniel is a scary, scary driver. And he always chooses music that I don't like. Other than that, he is a pretty cool person.
We park, and Karen and I stumble out of the car and hug each other, grateful to be alive. We then cross the street, climb the stairs, and walk into The Courier.
It is Uni theater tradition to have cast dinner there. They have great food at really reasonable prices, and there is variety: a salad bar, burgers, sandwiches, soup, milk shakes, phosphates, hot chocolate, potato wedges …
When we get there, most of the seniors have already been seated. They have pushed several round tables together and are sitting in kind of a weird oval. As the rest of our cast arrives, we take up an entire row of booths and two more long tables by the windows.
We also feel slightly bad, because there is only one waitress, and they called another helper who is on the way because there are so many of us. A message is passed around: Tip well.
We talk and laugh for a while. The booths are comfortable. We discover that everyone is happy and bouncy, and not at all tired; these are the same people who had looked half-dead in school half an hour earlier.
I am sitting in a booth with Buck Walsh, Sarah Lake-Rayburn, and Karen. Daniel, James, and Zack are in the booth behind us, and my sister Maria, Brittany Scheid, Anna Gooler, and Tianna Pittenger are in the booth in front. In front of them are Jamie Weiser, Sheri Grill, Claire Johnson, and Hannah Lake-Rayburn. I go and talk to this group.
The Courier has a bunch of picture books at the front. I go and grab the first one I see, “A Book For Woody.” Woody turns out to be a cute little pig. I take the book back to the booths and we have story time. It is amazingly amusing (go alliteration!).
Drinks arrive first. Karen has ordered a Green River Phosphate. I try some. It is too, too sweet, but so good. My lips and tongue are green for the next three hours.
I am ravenous when my food comes. I have ordered a Banker's Burger, basically a burger with cheese and mushrooms, as well as potato wedges. I give the tomato and lettuce to Buck. I give my pickle to my sister. Once my plate is clear of raw vegetables, I am happy.
I am basically in heaven for as long as my mouth is full. Sarah Lake-Rayburn starts eating after I am halfway through my burger, and still manages to finish before I do. She laughs at me.
We eat, basically. As more customers come in, Buck almost stabs one with his pickle. Our booth bursts out laughing.
I am not full as I leave, which is odd. Usually I have a hard time finishing everything. I am about to order something else when I realize that I didn't eat any of my lunch. I decide to go back to school and eat my food there.
If you've been reading this little series, you probably already have a pretty good idea of what goes on when we get ready. Nothing really changed on Friday; hair took forever to curl, girls had to do the boys' makeup, and etc.
One cool thing to note, though: Aran Yoo does Alex Cahill's hair. Which is AMAZING. And Lucy Zhang safety-pins his shirt. Way to step up, members of the pit!!
Something I haven't mentioned, though … warm-up.
Every show we do, there is a warm-up. For “Pajama Game” two years ago, it was Ride the Pony. For “Anything Goes,” someone decided on the Penguin warm-up.
Have you ever seen/ A penguin come to tea?/ Take a look at me/ A penguin you will see/ Right arm, left arm, right leg, left leg …
It looks ridiculous. During the warm-up, people flap around like … like penguins. If someone videotaped it and showed it somewhere, the viewers would think the people involved were either drunk or crazy (bonus points to you if you can tell me where in the show that phrase comes from!). Or they might just think they were theater kids.
And in every show, there are things that go wrong every night. Maybe someone forgets a line; maybe someone misses an entrance. But things do go wrong.
Things that go wrong over the entire course of tech week:
— Zack forgets his Chinese.
— Paige Martin steps on and tears her dress in “Blow, Gabriel, Blow.”
— Anna Cangellaris nearly falls over in “Blow, Gabriel, Blow.”
— Anna and I are late for the song “Anything Goes” one night.
— Maria and Emily Kamm start to bow when the captain and purser are supposed to.
— Maria does the wrong part of the dance in the second dance break during “Blow, Gabriel, Blow.”
— I am on autopilot during the beginning of the dance in “Anything Goes,” when I suddenly jerk back into consciousness and have no idea what I'm doing.
— I trip on my dress and do a turn two counts earlier than everyone else in “Blow, Gabriel, Blow.”
— Sam Klein forgets his glasses in the scene where Alex Cahill is supposed to steal them, and Charlie Newman has to run onstage and give them to him.
— The shaving cream won't come off the spoon when Ethan Berl is supposed to fling it into Sam's face one night, and he has to shake it furiously and gets it all over the floor. Paige dances in the middle of it during “Friendship” in the next scene, getting it all over her shoes and pants.
— Robert Croisant nearly curses in one of his lines, when he says “ship” in the wrong place and it sounds like something else.
— Sam misses an entrance, and Ethan and Emma Anselin ad lib for at least three minutes while shooting frantic looks toward the members of the chorus who are watching from the wings with wide eyes.
— The lights black out in the middle of the song “Easy to Love” while Ethan is singing to Emma.
Looking back on those moments now, I feel proud and amazed that the people involved were able to just smile and keep on going.
And looking back on it, I'm laughing as I'm writing this. Because it was just so funny. While Paige was spinning and dancing in the shaving cream during the song “Friendship,” Karen Han and I were in the wings on stage right, clutching at each other's hands desperately, hoping and praying that Paige wouldn't trip.
Just one more fond memory, Friday night:
English teacher Steve Rayburn walks into the South Attic, and I (and the rest of the people who see him) gape. He is playing the old woman in the wheelchair tonight, and he has taken his part to heart, apparently. Sue Kovacs had played the part the night before, and she had done a really nice job.
Mr. Rayburn's chest is, for lack of a better word, voluptuous. It is huge. It looks like he has stuffed balloons under his shirt - no, sorry, dress. I find out later that it is some kind of stuffing. He is wearing clip-on earrings and tights. (“Thank God for fat women,” he says to me later.) Kahlilah Cooke paints his fingernails bright red.
“We do have nail polish remover at home, right?” he asks Sarah.
She gives him a deadpan stare. “No,” she says sarcastically.
Later, I am doubled over in the wings in silent, helpless laugher as he croaks, “We want celebrities!” in a high falsetto and waves around his fan threateningly on stage.
Miracle of all miracles: The location for cast party wasn't decided after the last performance during strike. No, freshman Brittany Scheid really stepped up. She made fliers with her address and directions to her house and handed them out on Friday, a full day in advance.
Many of us Uni theater veterans were shocked and impressed.
Strike goes as usual: a lot of chaos, a lot of moving things, a lot of moving things back. Setting the chorus risers back up in the South Attic, organizing costumes, organizing the makeup cart, unsticking tape from the floor in the North Attic … it is a hectic scene.
Eventually, we all make it out and find rides. Leslie Hodges and I go with Lauren Piester, who drives the most adorable car: a yellow slugbug.
Robert Croisant walks with us to the parking lot where his own car is, and I shout, “Let's beat Robert!”
“Oh, h*ll no,” Robert says, and begins to run.
Leslie, Lauren and I throw ourselves into Lauren's car, but Robert is quicker than we are.
“It's OK,” Lauren says, starting the engine. “I've been to Brittany's house before, and Robert's never been there at all.”
As we drive, Lauren explains that the Piesters and the Scheids are close.
“I've been there a million times,” she says.
So although Robert has a head start, we still have a good chance of getting there before him.
Unfortunately, Robert has friends. Lauren pulls into the driveway, and we pile out of the car. We race toward the front door, but — no! Sam Klein holds us back as Robert walks victoriously through the door.
We follow him. The first thing I see is … well, me. A huge mirror shows me that I look flushed and overexcited. Which I am.
After stepping into the living room, I widen my eyes. Brittany's house is huge. There is Monical's pizza in the kitchen, and pasta salad, brownies, cookies, and more set out on a table in the living room. A piano takes up only a fraction of the space. Couches and beanbags are arranged in the center of the room.
Through a glass door, I can see people playing ping-pong. It is fun and exciting and loud, just the way a party should be.
Anna Cangellaris, Aran Yoo, Hannah Lake-Rayburn, Brittany, Maria, Ethan Berl, Lucy Zhang and I start a huge game of Kemps. Hannah and I proceed to completely crush everyone else for the first few games. I bounce up and down on my knees so much that I develop bruises later.
Later, we start a game of Mafia. It would take entirely too long to explain the game, so I'll just say this: It's fun. Although I got extremely angry — we played Mafia twice, and both times I got killed pretty early in the game. The first time, Nicole Helregel was God. She was a good one.
The second game, however, three people were God: Anna Gooler, Ethan, and Sarah Lake-Rayburn. We divided them into Jesus, the Father, and the Holy Ghost respectively. They were hilarious, but couldn't keep order like our single God could.
People left in trickles. At around 2:30 a.m., only Lauren, Brittany, Maria, and I were left. It had been a good night.
To conclude this, I have to thank people.
Thank you everyone who was involved in the play in some way.
Thank you to the people who are reading this.
Thanks to the people who took the time to tell me that they liked these articles.
Thank you Barbara Ridenour and Rick Murphy for directing such a fun show that turned out to be incredible.
Anything goes, guys.
— Gargoyle countdown: It's Friday, and we made it through opening night
— Gargoyle countdown: It's Thursday, opening night!
— Gargoyle countdown: It's Wednesday, our last chance to smooth out the rough edges
— Gargoyle countdown: It's Tuesday, and we're one step closer
— Gargoyle countdown: It's Monday, and the clock is running
— Gargoyle countdown: Time to put everything together
— Gargoyle photo slideshow: Getting ready for “Anything Goes”
— Gargoyle coverage: Spring musical cast members selected, rehearsals begin
— Gargoyle coverage: Auditions for spring musical to be held Monday, Tuesday
— StageAgent.com: Overview of “Anything Goes”
— Internet Broadway Database: Original Broadway run (420 performances) of “Anything Goes”