Passport to Illyria
It was the day before opening night when all through the house, not a creature was stirring except for me, who was moaning and groaning the sounds of soreness brought on by pandemic lethargy. Youch. "I'd like to do a show so I can lose some weight," I recall sharing with my partner, jokingly.
The Universe sure knows how to respond in kind.
An email inviting me to a callback to Twelfth Night the musical at SF Playhouse (dir. by Susi Damilano) arrived at almost comic timing. "Shakespeare as a musical? What does that even sound like?" I wondered. Quite good, I quickly found out, as an official cast recording was available for listening on Youtube courtesy of the originating cast which performed the premiere at the Delacorte Theatre in Central Park via the PUBLIC Theater.
I'm struggling to decide what it is exactly I want to communicate with this post and at the time of publishing. The general feeling in my body (soreness aside) is gratefulness. I can count on one hand how many musicals I've been a part of and I can tell you I haven't reached the point where I feel like it's getting easier (that does happen, right?), but I am enjoying the new challenges this opportunity presents.
From a logistical standpoint, it takes me roughly four (4) hours total travel time to get myself to rehearsal/show and back home. But I knew that before signing on so that's more fact than anything else. No no, the evident challenge is far more personal. Let's face it, of the population that either got into some serious fitness pockets and the ones that learned how to make bread and pasta, I self-sorted into the latter half. If you ended up doing both, then I salute you--biceps to baguettes! My biggest challenge is building up to show shape coming out cold from pandemic stagnancy. If an actor reaches into his toolkit, you expect to find some honed and precise instruments ready for all kinds of creative problem-solving. Well, I felt like I was reaching into my Fisher-Price toy toolset when we started rehearsals!
What exactly do I mean when I say 'show shape? Mostly it's my ability to rely on impulse, and intuition to navigate scenes, moment to moment. In the case of a musical, it's my ability to dance, sing, and act without missing a beat. Am I there? Sort of. I weighed myself just before we started rehearsals in October and I've lost thirteen (13) lbs and while my knees are buggin', I am starting to feel that transformation from lethargic to lithe.
Some self-care practices immediately fell into place out of necessity which hadn't been there before. On top of pre and post-show stretches came slathering IcyHot on some muscles that needed relief, the occasional Epson salt bath soak which I credit my partner for introducing me to, and some quality time on foam rollers. None of these were even a thing before the show--my brain ticked them off as superfluous to my daily routines. I'm grateful to have a support system both in and out of the show that really helps me get back to aligning myself to being show-ready. Theatre, after all, is a team sport.