Growing up in Pickering, I was a part of a community theatre group. I was only 10, and dying to get on stage! BUT I had to settle for spot light operator or stage crew until I was 18. I would go to rehearsals in the church basement with my Mum & learn all the songs and choreography! I wasn’t the only groupie-kid that found a love for theatre early on. We had a little crew of youngsters who would watch our Mums rehearse wishing we were ‘big’!
Rehearsals: Where the cast and crew meet, repeat song after song, go over step after step, stay late with weary eyes, foggy brains and sore muscles, so the show will go off without a hitch. Sounds tiring and repetitive and monotonous, doesn’t it? …. But wait, it’s also where you find yourself spending time with some of your favourite people and forming life-long relationships! I have realized over the years that it’s the people, and theatre family, which inevitably develops, that I am missing the most. Having experienced this connection when I was young, I have to say the Northumberland Players rehearsals are the best and most missed memory for me!
I came to the Players after being cast in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. This cast was solid! A seasoned production team, long-time friends eager to do another show together, and a few Mums, Dads and kids all cast together as a family too! Adorable! Then in comes the ‘new girl’ … Me. Gulp. I sat down next to a friendly fellow alto who said “Hi I’m Meaghan, and this is Heather” … Instantly their warm smiles made me feel welcome! That old familiar feeling of family and belonging that rehearsal moments create once again warmed my heart.
The next show we rehearsed the following year was Sister Act. Talk about bonding! We had many laughs and happy moments while we sang and danced our way around the Firehall Theatre rehearsing in our wimples and habits.
The Drowsy Chaperone was our next big production. I recall a very profound moment when my character Trix moved from the imagination of ‘Man in Chair’, played by Grant Coward, into his reality. We were rehearsing on stage at the Capitol; it must have been tech week. I walked from ‘imagination’ to ‘real-life’ and placed my hand on Man in Chair’s shoulder. We’d rehearsed it probably one hundred times but that one time was different. The theatre was silent, the characters were still, Man in Chair’s reaction to all of his favourite characters was heart-warming. I tried not to tear up. I felt so proud in that moment of all the hard work the entire cast and crew had put into making this show remarkable.
Chicago was next. The Players had been trying to gain the rights to this production for many years and now, we had it! We took dance lessons all summer in anticipation for the jazz audition. Some of us were in boot camp trying to become stronger to keep up with what we knew would be 6 months of high intensity rehearsals. Cast members even cut their hair to better suit the era! It was amazing! This was a cast of purely dedicated actors, singers, and musicians, as well as our entire production team.
Every rehearsal has brought a challenge, but that’s why we were all there, isn’t it? To slip into the reality of the show and out of the reality of our day-to-day lives. To engage with our friends who feel like family. To sing and dance and laugh. Sure, we all feel a bit drained and worn out at times, but I feel that rehearsals are the heart and soul of each show I have been a part of.
One day the marquee will light up again, and all of us who are in it for the love of theatre will be back to entertain you.