Welcome back to The Artist’s Journey with Side Show castmember Lauren Elder! We hope you’ve been enjoying the inside scoop she’s been providing from behind-the-scenes of this exciting production. Last week, Lauren shared how the cast was preparing for their various roles through table work and character development. In this week’s installment, she focuses on what’s been going on in “tech” by explaining what that is, the challenges and adjustments involved as the company moves into the theatre, as well as what her fellow actors do in their downtime. Read on and enjoy!
By Lauren Elder
Last week we were in tech for Side Show. What this means is that we moved from our rehearsal space into the theatre. We started working on stage with lights, costumes and sets for the first time. It’s a very exciting period but also a long, grueling process. Tech consists of a series of long rehearsals, usually 10 to 12 hours each day. On our first day of tech, we made it through the opening number, and that’s it!
What took so long? A lot of things. Lighting is one of them. We have the multiple Tony-award winning lighting designer, Jules Fisher, lighting us, and he is making sure that whenever we are doing anything on stage, that we are bathed in beautiful light. But positioning the lights, finding the right hues and the right timing to bring them up takes time. All of this is computer-operated now, but just imagine how long it took before, when designers had to climb up to position the lights manually!
Moving onto the actual set takes time as well. Up until now, we have been rehearsing in a studio space with the outline of the set taped out on the floor. Now we’re in the theatre with a full two-story moving set, which poses a new batch of challenges. We have had to adjust some of our staging to make sure the sight-lines are good, or allow the set to move around us, or figure out how to get up to or down from the top level, sometimes in a matter of seconds and while singing.
Another obstacle to overcome was the number of quick changes we have in this show. There are multiple costume, make-up and wig changes, many of which have to be done in less than a minute! It’s like an explosion of costumes backstage. The first time through in rehearsal, we missed a lot of entrances, but the more we do our changes, the faster they get.
Tech can also mean a lot of waiting around off-stage when other cast members are working on scenes you’re not in. What do we do to kill time? Read books, play games (many people got addicted to Candy Crush, and Keala Settle, who plays the Fortune Teller, got us all hooked on Rummikub), make music (Robert Joy, who plays Sir, and Nicholas Mongiardo-Cooper, who plays one of the sideshow Roustabouts, would play the guitar and we’d all sit around singing) and watch movies (we all sat around in our freak costumes, watching the Tod Browning movie “Freaks,” which featured the real Daisy and Violet Hilton).
As tech comes to an end, we are exhausted, yet excited. All of the elements of this amazing show have come together, and it is truly magical! Now we’ll start doing preview performances in front of audiences, but we’ll still be rehearsing during the day. Parts of the show can still get adjusted during previews, depending on what does or does not work in front of an audience. Once we officially open on November 17, the show will be set and no longer change. Many people like seeing this evolution, so they come to preview performances and then come back again after the official opening to see what’s different!
What are you waiting for? Get your Side Show tickets and “come look at the freaks!”
Lauren Elder has performed in Hair (Broadway, West End, Shakespeare in the Park/NY Public Theater) and As You Like It (Kingsmen Shakespeare Festival), and has also appeared in HBO’sBoardwalk Empire. She performs regularly in nightclubs around New York City, including Joe’s Pub, Birdland, 54 Below and Jazz at Lincoln Center. She recently recorded her debut album of original music. Hear it and learn more at www.lauren-elder.com.