A couple of weeks ago, all of the Prairie Family was involved with putting on a barbershop chorus concert/melodrama. This silly little program actually ended up being pretty fun, and we will always look back on it as a highlight of 2015.
This whole thing started about a year ago when the Tumbleweed Barbershop chorus (of which Dan, John, Brock, and Luke are all members) decided to do a melodrama for their 2015 spring show. Not completely realizing what I was getting myself into, I volunteered to help out with the drama portion because I thought it sounded like fun. I did not understand all that was going to be involved at that time, nor was I aware that the Prairie Family guys could not be in the cast since they were in the chorus.
So, my first order of business was to adapt the script. This melodrama was originally performed in Canada, and the chorus director and I thought it would be fun to put in some local humor. I spent quite a bit of time during the summer of 2014 going through the script and changing lines here and there. I also had to change the gender of one of the original characters to fit our cast.
The hardest part of the whole thing was finding a cast. Like I said, my original intent was that all of the Prairie Family could be involved in this. When I found out that that was not the case, my search began. Cosette and Kara both wanted parts, but that still left several spots to fill–and filling spots proved to be quite a challenge! It seems like people are very busy these days, and that complicates projects like this. I was delighted with the people who did agree to take parts, though, and we ended up with the “right” cast.
My intent was to direct this show, but I had the hardest time finding someone to play the part of the Widow MacDonald. Several times I thought I had that spot filled, but every time something came up and the part stayed open. It finally became obvious that I needed to step into that role myself just for the show to go forward. Believe me, I put that off as long as I could because I really do not enjoy memorizing lines or acting on stage–talk about scarey! Once the decision was made, though, we just plowed on through and did our best.
Here are some pictures from our early rehearsals:
As the show drew closer, details just fell together. I cannot say how wonderful the cast was. They worked hard to learn their lines and portray the characters. I thoroughly enjoyed working with each one. Cosette played the part of Beatrice MacDonald, the independent daughter of my character. Kara was Mookie Whey, a common sense character with lots of funny lines.
By the way, both of the girls did their best on this show. Kara had TONS of lines, and she learned them all. Here is a video of her practicing her opening monologue:
The other young character, Beau Vine, was played by a long-time friend of the Prairie Family. He was amazing and grew so much as he worked on the show. The narrator was played by a life-long friend of mine who has been in a variety of productions with us. He is really a character in his own right, but there is so much to learn from him. It is always a blessing and a challenge to work with him.
The “villain,” Dr. Sal Monella, was played by another life-long friend of mine from church. He and his wife are very special people. I literally have known them since childhood. In fact, Mr. L. was my high school Sunday School teacher! In all the years that I have known them, he and his wife have traveled more than 60 miles each week (one way) to go to church. Now that is commitment! They have not had easy lives, but they have always been consistent, loving, and cheerful. I remember well how Mr. L. used to get up and do monologues at church–very moving monologues that he learned while he drove his tractor. So when he agreed to take this role, I was humbled, grateful, and excited to have him in the cast. He even got his granddaughter involved in the show holding audience cue cards!
Here is a collage of pictures from the dress rehearsal:
The day of the show was amazing. Oh, there were glitches here and there, but that is what makes live theater interesting, isn’t it?! Our biggest issues involved sound and makeup, but we got through it. “Beau Vine’s” mother jumped in to fill in as impromptu make-up lady, and working together we got the sound situation fixed as best as we could. I always remind people on stage to project their voices like there is not going to be microphones because you just never know how technology is going to work, and this was a good reminder of that very fact. Everyone remembered the lines and had a lot of fun telling the story of the show, and that’s what it’s all about. We will definitely look back on it with many happy memories.
Here is one more collage of behind-the-scene pictures taken the day of the show:
Read Full Post »