BWW Blog: Eric Ulloa of Goodspeed's THE MOST HAPPY FELLA - At the End of the Day (or Week for That Matter
There is a high holy day each week, where actors pause to relax and reflect on everything that has happened the 6 days prior...and thy name is Monday. So, with excitement for the blessed days arrival, the cast of The Most Happy Fella had their first run through for the show designers, producers and staff this past Sunday. Up until this point we have been blocking the individual scenes and numbers, not really aware of what the full journey would feel like. I knew the scenes and numbers I was in, that I had set transition assignments and that my chest seized up every time I finished dancing "Big D," but I had no idea what/how it all came together. Like Amanda Bynes to a ratty wig, we actors need an audience to really feel it all come together and add in that new element that we hadn't felt thus far.
The two hours of performance passed, and as we looked out towards our audience during the finale, you could see tears in their eyes and ingrained in the tissues they were holding. We had told the story and we had told it well. Now, I have been in this business professionally for over nine years now, and in that time have had many special moments onstage and times when you think that you were in a perfect production. Never have I had a moment like I had on Sunday where I thought (and said aloud many times), "We are telling this story as powerful and fresh as if it had been written today, and I am so glad that I am a part of this theatrical experience." Audiences are going to lose their minds (and tear ducts), as they sit and watch the master class that Mamie Parris and Bill Nolte are giving us in those last beautiful moments.
After the run we received our notes, I packed my bags and headed back home to NYC for the high holy day off!
Because I missed my domestic partner Manhattan, I stupidly spent my one precious day off running around the city completing errands and meeting as many friends as possible. And though it was a great day, I came back to East Haddam a broken and tired man completely unready for a full week of work (Director Rob Ruggiero can ignore that last part).
The majority of the cast though chose a smarter route and stayed here in town and took full advantage of the day off. Inside sources tell me there was much outlet shopping to be had (already jealous) with a good amount of lying around and relaxing. There also was a cast outing to the Griswold Inn - a tradition here at the Goodspeed - for Monday night Sea Shanties.
The explanation of what sea shanties are has been told to me many times since I have arrived here, yet I still insist on believing that everyone is sitting around drinking and singing "Fathoms Below" from "The Little Mermaid". In truth though, sea shanties are work and drinking songs that sailors used to sing, often involving dirty limericks (SOLD!). I heard that cast member Danny Lindgren and Assistant Director Thomas Rowell put their beautiful voices to good use with "enchanting" lyrics and thus earned themselves proper dirty sailor status.
As every religious experience must soon end, the day off was over and we were all back to work Tuesday morning. The week thus far has been full of runs and detailed cleaning as we inch closer and closer to tech. Friday brings a run for an invited audience composed of the cast of Goodspeed's current production "Hello Dolly," and if Ashley Brown doesn't proclaim us "practically perfect in every way"...well, I'll be damned.
Thanks for continuing to send the questions to www.ericulloa.com, and as I promised, I will continue to answer them here. This week I was asked how we maintain the energy and our bodies to do these runs and survive this lifestyle. Well, I'll tell you in four words...Mamie Parris's Apple Pies. Yes, we take care of our bodies and obsessively hit the gym, but I'd be shocked to come across an actor that can't resist when a baked treat hits the green room. This week marked the second coming of this mythical pie, that like Brigadoon, shows its face for a second and then is gone in an instant. I actually timed (after I had a massive piece) how long this pie lasted, and it clocked in at a record 6 minutes and 27 seconds.
So yes, we work out...with forks, baked treats and the eventual self -judgment /regret for our poor eating decisions.
Have a great weekend and I look forward to seeing you back early next week, when I interview the "Most Happy Fella" himself, Bill Nolte.