Fall play diary '08: Final dress is a great big mess
Published: Thursday, November 6, 2008 - 7:47pm
When: 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 6; 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 7; 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 8
Where: North Attic Playhouse
Tickets: $6 for adults; $5 for students, seniors, and children
Director: Barbara Ridenour (for cast and crew, see below)
Plot: Famed director Max Reinhardt films an adaptation of Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" for Warner Brothers in 1930s Hollywood. However, the real Puck and Oberon find themselves transported to the set, and when they are cast as themselves, chaos ensues. Characters in the play include such famed Hollywood figures as Jimmy Cagney, Dick Powell, Jack Warner, Joe E. Brown, and Louella Parsons. Infamous film censor Will Hays also figures in the plot.
A Comedy by Ken Ludwig
FALL PLAY 2008
- Directed by: Barbara Ridenour
- Performances: 7 p.m. Nov. 6,
7:30 p.m. Nov. 7 & 8, North Attic Playhouse
Three members of the Gargoyle staff — senior editor Lauren Piester and senior reporters Lor Sligar and Joy Shapley — will perform in this year's fall play, "Shakespeare in Hollywood." This week, they will take us backstage to get a sense of what goes into putting on a school production. Joy got things rolling on Tuesday, and Lor continued on Wednesday. Today Lauren talks about the final dress rehearsal before tonight's opening performance.
THERE'S A SAYING in the theater that is inevitably uttered every Wednesday of every Uni tech week: A bad dress rehearsal means a good performance. If so, "Shakespeare in Hollywood" should be the most excellent play Uni has ever seen.
The evening started off well enough. Right after school I headed off with Hannah Leskosky, Ethan Schiller, Lor Sligar, and James Smith to Cravings, and we enjoyed a lovely dinner featuring stories from Ethan about paralyzed old women with monkeys named Sarah.
On our way back to school across the quad, we practiced all the different styles of running we have encountered in fitness, most likely frightening all the poor U of I students and professors to death.
Once I had picked up my car from the parking lot (which is practically in Australia) and the brownies from the cooler in the trunk, I sat and waited with the rest of the cast to be let into the school.
For the next two hours (and then some) we put on makeup, did hair, and tried on Dillon Price's ridiculously thick-lensed glasses while trying to function as normal human beings. It was quite fun.
Sometimes, stage makeup and hair is boring. For "The Diary of Anne Frank" last year, we were supposed to be poor Jewish people living in an attic, so the makeup was minimal. For this show, however, all the characters are either celebrities in 1930s Hollywood or sparkly fairies from other worlds. Either way, the makeup is incredibly fun.
Blue eyeshadow, bright red lips, lots of blush, glitter, and fancy wavy hair create quite an entertaining picture when you get the whole cast together, especially with Price and Sarah Lake-Rayburn, who play Oberon and Puck, and who will pretty much never get all those sparkles off their faces.
Makeup fully on, I took up my usual job of taking lots of random MySpace pictures with various other members of the cast, and we laughed together about how ridiculous/amazing we looked.
Around 6:30, director Barbara Ridenour returned from a trip to pick up some last-minute costumes, namely tuxedos. Nothing, absolutely nothing, spruces up a group of scruffy-looking boys like tuxedos. I'm serious. They all look mightily adorable. Once they were all dressed, we were ready to begin.
Despite an intended 7 p.m. start, we movie stars didn't actually all begin heading across the third floor to our entrance until around 7:30. Nish Nookala, my "date" for the premiere of the film that the play revolves around, offered me his arm, and we followed after Zack Goldberg and Hannah Leskosky up the stairs, waving at the photographers, and then proceeded backstage, where I quickly transformed into a man.
The show was, overall, one of the worst run-throughs we've ever had. Unpracticed costume changes left people missing cues and forcing other actors to improv on more than one occasion. Pieces of the set didn't get put onstage. Backstage was chaotic.
This show is extremely complicated. It's fast-moving, with a lot of set changes and hundreds of pieces of costumes, and it's been difficult to pull off. So many things went wrong last night that I'm not sure there's anything else that could go wrong, leaving only perfection to grace the North Attic stage for the next three days.
Or at least that's what I'm going to tell myself.
FALL PLAY '08 CAST & CREW
- Louella Parsons — Lor Sligar (sr)
- Max Reinhardt — Rob Diehl (sr)
- Dick Powell — Ben Daniels (sr)
- Jack Warner — Zack Goldberg (jr)
- Daryl — Nish Nookala (sr)
- Lydia Lansing — Hannah Leskosky (sr)
- Oberon — Dillon Price (so)
- Puck — Sarah Lake-Rayburn (sr)
- Olivia Darnell — Anna Gooler (jr)
- Will Hays — Ethan Schiller (jr)
- Joe E. Brown — Ollie Goldbart (so)
- Jimmy Cagney — James Smith (sr)
- Ensemble — Adam Joseph (so), Rodney LeNoir (fr), Lauren Piester (sr), Joy Shapley (sr), Sierra Marcum (sr), Daniel Wilson (jr)
- Stage Manager — Tianna Pittenger (jr)
- Choreography — Karolina Kalbarczyk (sr)
- Lights and Sound — Natsuki Nakamura (sr)
"SHAKESPEARE IN HOLLYWOOD" AT A GLANCE
- Author: Ken Ludwig, an American playwright and theater director best known for his light comedies
- Premiere: Commissioned by the Royal Shakespeare Company, the comedy debuted in 2003 at Arena Stage in Washington, D.C.
- Awards: "Shakespeare in Hollywood" won the Helen Hayes Award for Best Play of the Year from the Washington Theatre Awards Society; Ludwig himself has been nominated for two Tony Awards and won a Laurence Olivier Award from the Society of London Theatre
- Synopsis: From Ken Ludwig's official site: "It's 1934, and Shakespeare's most famous fairies, Oberon and Puck, have magically materialized on the Warner Bros. Hollywood set of Max Reinhardt's 'A Midsummer Night's Dream.' Instantly smitten by the glitz and glamour of show biz, the two are ushered onto the silver screen to play (who else?) themselves. With a little help from a feisty flower, blonde bombshells, movie moguls, and arrogant 'asses' are tossed into loopy love triangles, with raucous results."