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What I Did For Pecs

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Published 5 years ago
In July there were sixteen dance work shops scheduled. I was able to attend fifteen. Actually, none were obligatory for the cast of A Chorus Line. But it was fun to take part in them and be part of it all.

Each session would last for about one hour and thirty minutes. For the first forty-five minutes we were led by our choreographer in an exercise set to get us into shape for a show that is famous for being about strong and memorable dance routines. It was always a good workout. And I was happy to be able to keep up. Then in the second part of the session we began learning some of the choreography for A Chorus Line. 

During this period there were a few cast changes. Some people had to drop out, for various reasons. Others were added. When we were ready to begin the actual rehearsals in August we had almost a full cast. But not quite. That was the director's headache. I was just certain that it would be happening. It was now on the fall schedule for our community theater.

When rehearsing began I really learned for the first time what my role would actually encompass. I would be onstage for the beginning of the show for about eleven minutes as we created an audition session in a theater in New York in the 1970s. We would start with some twenty-two hopeful dancers and five of them would be eliminated during the first round of rejections by the choreographer/director. In the play itself, you understand.

I would be singing along with the others during this part of the play. The song here was "I Hope I Get It." And then, when rejected, I would leave the stage and begin singing along backstage as part of the unseen chorus. It would be our job to supplement the onstage dancers to make some of their songs more robust and, hopefully, memorable.

For the final dancing portion of the show we learned that all of the cast would be appearing while the song "One (Singular Sensation)" was sung. This was good news for the few initial rejects because we would normally never be seen again by the audience. This time we would be a small part of the rousing finale of the show dressing up in white tuxedo costumes with gold trimmings.

So we would have a total of thirty-four rehearsals over August and part of September. And as the rehearsals began the final casting was completed. We had twenty-four actors taking part and all were also dancers and singers. What is nowadays called being a triple threat. In the 1970s dancers were seldom actually actors and singers. This show was a showcase for those kinds of performers.

As we proceeded with the rehearsals we also were working on the costuming. My wife was part of that. She's been volunteering in the costume department for almost three years now. In fact, this year she had the second highest number of volunteer hours at the theatre. She has also often worked in other capacities, helping in the box office for example.

A lot of us were able to provide our own costumes for the show. We were, after all, representing ourselves as a group of dancers actually auditioning for the chorus line of a Broadway show. So many of us had dance wear to use. Others were presented with other options by the costumer that would reflect the types of clothes worn during the period of the play.

It was nearing the time for us to present our show as opening night approached. Some had doubts it would all come together, but the performers were confident that it would be a great show.

During dry tech I helped out with the crew creating the lighting and sound for the show. I often did this with shows I was part of. I would move about the stage allowing the technical crew to see how the lighting would work with an actual performer on stage. It always lasted for a few hours. This time it was a short dry tech of only three hours. The mirrors that form such an integral part of this play had been installed. It would look stunning.

That was on a Saturday and was the start of tech week. The next day, Sunday, all of the other performers took part in the long tech day where we ran through the play twice. Once working with the new lighting established by the crew and director and then running it with all of the costumes for the first time.

Tech week ended with the final dress rehearsal on Thursday and opening night was on Friday.

We had a hit. There are a lot of people in this town who are either part of or follow closely the local arts scene. And as the performances proceeded day by day we got personal feedback that our show was appreciated by people. And each night was a better show. It was great fun.

I was proud and privileged to be a part of such a wonderful show. I've made friends and created memories for for whatever lifetime I have left. My favorite song from the show is "What I Did For Love" because it is such a strong anthem for the dancing gypsies of the theater scene.

By the way, I am in an adult ballet class now and I will be beginning rehearsals for The Nutcracker: A Kansas Ballet next week. Tell me to break a leg one more time.

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