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AN AMERICAN IN PARIS
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BWW Blog: Caitlin Abraham of AN AMERICAN IN PARIS - Top 5 Shenanigans List of Tech Week

How are cast members supporting each other during 10-out-of-12's? (In case you're unfamiliar with the term, An American in Paris has been working 10 out of 12 scheduled hours this past week at the Palace Theatre. This is a customary, if not notorious, phase of teching a Broadway show.) It's an intense week; there are long hours, frequent adjustments, and a lot of stopping and starting. But each day is incredibly rewarding. There's a lot of first time magic that happens in the theater during tech - you see lighting cues that transform a scene, dazzling new costumes, projections and effects; and the show changes from barebones to stunning before your eyes.

Instead of giving in to the long days we make the most of them. Our cast starts off at warm up class in the mezzanine lobby - barre at the bar we call it-- singing along to 80's hits and 90's R&B. We perk up late in the afternoon with a cookie that Heather Lang's husband baked for us. Then, at the end of the week, in case anyone forgot to order a venti on their way in, our producers, Stuart Oken, Van Kaplan and Roy Furman surprised the whole company with coffee, tea and cocoa at the 9pm break on Saturday- and yes, they remembered the whip.

Lastly, between resets, there's always room for some good ol' physical humor. Which brings me to my TOP FIVE TECH SHENANIGANS LIST:

(If you're following BroadwayWorld's daily releases of An American in Paris's "Meet the Cast" segments, you may recognize names of the hilarious culprits listed below.)

5. Protractor - When our lighting designer, Natasha Katz, was working with a grid lighting cue, meant to be light through studio windows, Laura Feig interpreted it to be graph paper on the floor and started sweeping arcs with her feet. Nathan Madden jumped in to partner her ronde de jambes and promenades en pointe. She called herself a Protractor and it turned into a whole clever improvisational pas deux.

4. Team Swing Conga - After the final 10-minute break of the night one evening, the cast came back on stage and our incredible swings, who had stationed themselves in the 1st mezzanine, started a Conga Line. Gia Mongell lead the crew, weaving all through the section and aisles, followed by Ashlee Dupre, Jennie Ford, Adam Rogers, Sam Rogers and Sam Strasfeld. Onstage, the ensemble cheered for Team Swing and clapped out a beat - that grew to counter rhythms and vocals: "Conga Line with the Swings, Wha?"

3. Stairway Snowflake - The dancers had been rehearsing this number for hours; spacing, managing flown-in scenery that changes the dimensions of the stage, running, stopping for lighting, running... We were holding for something and first one, and then another cast member laid down. Then another... and someone saw the potential; the six "Stairway to Paradise" Ladies (Taeler Cyrus, Sara Esty, Heather Lang, Candy Olsen, Rebecca Riker and Sarrah Strimmel) laid with their heads in the center and made a snowflake out of their feathery headdresses. Dreamy!

2. Cellblock Tango - The five lovers of our show: Robbie Fairchild, Leanne Cope, Jill Paice, Brandon Uranowitz and Max Von Essen (you may have seen them in the March issue of Vanity Fair) come downstage in Act II, each in a spotlight. It's a potent moment when we as an audience get to pause and consider the complications each character faces. The principals had been holding for a few minutes for a technical change, and suddenly a voice called out "Pop!" Then another voice yelled "Squish" -- and we knew before the next voice cried "Uh-uh" that the actors had organized an homage to the legendary number from Chicago, the Cellblock Tango. However, instead of Merry Murderesses singing from their jail cells (their spot cue); our show lives on the other end of the universe (which made the gag even more of a surprise). In An American in Paris, the spot cues reveal inner circumstances; we are seeing into the conflicted hearts of characters we've come to care about over the past 90min. That said-- excellent use of a spot cue!

And finally... the winning moment of humor, brilliance and the lifting of spirits:

1. Riverdance - There was a lull in the tech process and Brandon Uranowitz saw this as his chance. It was after 10pm and he busted out RiverDance - with leaping entrances, highway-speed footwork -- next he'd duck behind the curtain, hesitate for suspense, then dive out again, heels clicking with a new variation. Robbie Fairchild especially, but everyone was beside themselves, cracking up along with the rest of the cast onstage.

Voila! We've gotten through the toughest part of tech - and the sweet laughter sure helped!! Next stop: First Preview this Friday, March 13th.


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From This Author Guest Blogger: Caitlin Abraham

Broadway: An American in Paris (ensemble); La Cage aux Folles (Anne u/s, ensemble, Assistant Dance Captain). National Tour: Chicago (Liz). Regional: An American in Paris (read more...)