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BLOG: Week 2 of The Road to Opening Stratford's THE SOUND OF MUSIC

BroadwayWorld Toronto is pleased to present the second entry in an exclusive series of guest blogs from The Stratford Festival. Stephanie Rothenberg (Maria in The Sound of Music) and Sara Farb (Anne in The Diary of Anne Frank) will chronicle their road from first preview to opening night in our newest feature "The Road to Opening!" Here, Stephanie writes about backstage life at the festival! Also, check out some more exclusive photos!

Ever wonder what happens backstage just before the lights come up on the very 1st scene of a show at The Stratford Festival? This week's blog is all about the backstage work that makes it happen! From our stage crew, to our wardrobe, to our hair department, to our acting company, everyone has a 1/2 hour routine that gets us ready to "start at the very beginning" every show!

Long before 1/2 hour is called, our crew has been setting the show backstage. As early as the evening before, they switch over the stage from whatever show performed or was in technical rehearsals before us. For example, TAMING OF THE SHREW did their final dress rehearsal yesterday onstage, so that evening after all the actors have gone home, our amazing stage crew turns over the stage and all the scenery backstage to get ready to do THE SOUND OF MUSIC the next day. It's an incredible operation. At 1/2 hour, most of the backstage is set, except a few checks of any pieces that include automation (the tree), some final movements of some set pieces, sound checking, and light checks.

Likewise both the wardrobe department and the wig department have been working from early in the day to get all of the costume pieces and wigs ready for the show. At half hour though, presets are in full swing. Preset means any costume piece or wig that is included in a quick change is set in its place and ready to go for the show. Sometimes the changes are so fast that they have to place the dress in such a particular way that all the actor does is set in and pull it up (see my wedding dress preset below). For example, my quickest full costume change is 36 seconds, from "My Favourite Things" into "I Have Confidence." Without my awesome dresser and wig maker/show head, Cvetka and Erica, I would never make it. Their calmness and efficiency during all 8 of my quick changes, make all the difference to me, because instead of thinking of what my costume is doing, I can focus on the next scene.

Lastly we come to the acting company's 1/2 hour routine. Every actor is different, and knows what they individually need to be able to feel ready for the show. An hour before the show a group dance warm up and a separate group voice warm up is available to all members of the company. The Von Trapp children have their own separate warm up designed for exactly what they need in the show. For me in this particular show, I need to do a solo vocal warmup so that I can hear and feel exactly what's happening with my instrument on that day. Usually that begins at home way before half hour, but once I'm at the theater I do another 20 minute vocal warmup and practice the guitar as well. This show specifically is very vocally demanding, so I'm very careful to make sure I've gone over all of the "tricky bits"....not telling you what those are!! Then we have to get our makeup, wigs, and microphones on, and finally put on our costumes to be ready to start the show.

The saying is really true-"it takes a village"-and though the actors are the only ones who take a bow at the end of the show, there are dozens more people backstage with us that provide the foundation and support to transport the audience to Austria in the 1930's every show. I want to thank them.

That's all for this week! I'm off to rehearsal and then to the show tonight. I hope to see you at The Stratford Festival soon! "Adieu, adieu" until next week.

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From This Author Guest Blogger: Stephanie Rothenberg

2015 at Stratford: Maria Rainer in The Sound of Music. Stratford debut. Elsewhere: Ms Rothenberg starred on Broadway as Rosemary Pilkington opposite Nick Jonas in (read more...)