BWW Blog: Ryan Bauer-Walsh of Goodspeed's LMNOP - The Process
The Goodspeed Opera House was constructed in 1876 by William H. Goodspeed. Originally the center of East Haddam, Connecticut it was a bustling center of commerce housing a theatre, professional offices, steamboat passenger terminal and a general store. It went through a period of neglect where the Opera House was used as storage for the highway department, before it was restored in 1963, becoming the Goodspeed it is today; "The home of the American Musical."
Some of you may know that the musical ANNIE had it's creation at Goodspeed, but you may not have known that 18 other productions have also found their way to Broadway from this little artist's oasis in Connecticut.
Many of the new productions like LMNOP found their start not at the Opera House, but at the Norma Terris theatre. The Norma Terris theatre was formerly a knitting needle factory in Chester Connecticut- not far from the Opera House. Named for the Goodspeed Trustee and Actress, the 'Norma Terris' was donated to the theatre by The Susan Bates corporation when the needle factory moved to a larger facility. The theatre opened it's doors in 1984 with a production of Harrigan 'n' Hart and has been the home of new work ever since.
Now where in our third week of performing and we are finally freezing our show (save but a few tweaks here and there.) Our director is heading out on Sunday, and the remaining company will be fully responsible for keeping the show consistent and maintaining its integrity for our last 10 days here.
Through out the run of LMNOP, we have been in rehearsals. It can be very draining, as well as mentally challenging, to implement new changes the same night that you rehearse them. But it is more difficult to rehearse a change, and then wait till the next night to put it in. Anyone who has done shows in rep, knows how very demanding it can be. But to have two, three, four or more versions of the SAME show in your head, can make you feel like you need a trip to a zen garden. Luckily my little Actor's Garden on the side of the Joffray cottage here in the Artists Village in East Haddam has provided me with a bit of the breath I need when it gets a little stressful.
But I have to say, I am a little sad that our production will not be changing as much after this week. The production really is looking great, and after so many changes, I think it has discovered itself quite a bit. But change is exciting!
For instance, I just had my birthday yesterday, and I had friends visiting all week from the city-- but now that it isn't the "birth-day" anymore and I am simply Twenty-Blerm-- it can all seem a little anti-climactic, I suppose. Though, the cast was really very sweet and made it a very special Blerm-day, and got me a Gluten free buffet of birthday treats, a MASSIVE card, and more hugs than Santa gets at his mall gig, now it is time to be a responsible twenty-blerm year old and focus on what is next!
So it is with a bit of a heavy heart that we say goodbye to our director, Joe Calarco.
Luckily we get to keep our writing team Paul Loesel, and Scott Burkell till the end of the run. But now the show belongs to it's actors and we get to now be a part of that product of consistency, which is its own challenge. But with the short run calendar at The Norma Terris it will go quickly, and we will find ourselves missing it all before we know it!
It is raining outside, and the Actor's Garden is doing very well. The sunflowers are almost a foot-and-a-half tall, and everything that could flower, is budding if not blooming. So I think it is a good time to pause, and reflect on the things that have occurred while I have been up here, so I better understand where I have ended up!
-Coming into the process, I was actually playing three characters; Willy, Rory, and Creighton. Now I only play two.
-Willy used to be an irresponsible tyrant and outcast in my mind, now he is a passionate community organizer who goes on a journey and finds he himself is a leader.
-Rory was a rich Kennedy-esque character with conservative morals when I began, and now Rory is a socially awkward wealthy snob, who through losing everything releases his nose from the air and accepts that he is a part of his nation, and not somewhere above it.
-The beginning, middle, and end of the show is different.
-I myself am a year older.
-Goodspeed has a new garden to go with it's new housing.
With these things alone, it has been a very fulfilling and exciting creative experience.
But there is still more to come. We have yet to find out what will happen with our show, and if the story will change once again... But meanwhile, we will just keep the garden free of weeds until it is time to re-landscape.
See you next week!