Organised Chaos: The Wonderful World of Backstage
This week, WICKED’s Chris Scalzo gives us sneak peak backstage at the magnificent Marina Bay Sands Theatre, Singapore. With intense technical rehearsals out of the way, The Australian WICKED Company open this Friday 9 December! Read on to discover what the WICKED cast have been up to…
Well readers…we have arrived in Singapore! The land of hair straightening irons and ponchos! The WICKED company no longer reside in the land abounding of nature’s gifts (although Orchard Rd has a few gift options I’m open to if anyone’s overtaken with a case of generous festive spirit).
After a lovely post-travel day off which saw the cast splitting up and traversing the city for Ikeas, Supermarkets, chemists and cafes, we arrived at the Grand Theater inside the Marina Bay Sands early last week to start our intensive period of technical rehearsals.
Several of us thought it would be a really lovely and clever idea to walk in to the theatre on our first day of tech; just to perhaps get a sense of the area, gauge how far the travel was and generally take in whatever Singapore had to offer. Yeah – no deal.
Let me tell you what Singapore had to offer…steam heat. Thick and lustrous heat. There was one point, when about to cross the Helix Bridge, with the theatres building in sight on the horizon, that we genuinely believed it may actually have been the end for all of us and that we would melt into the concrete before reaching the other side.
Gory details aside, we obviously did indeed manage to arrive at the theatre alive and almost well, and through our perspiration, decided that walking to work in the hottest heat of the day was promptly off the cards and not the best way to start a long day. We have since become best friends with the MRT and many of the city’s taxi drivers.
Technical rehearsals have been in equal parts tiring and exciting. Before the cast arrives each day, the Orchestra rehearses with our Music Director David Young, the technical crew led by our Production Stage Manager Fritha Truscott run maintenance and dry-tech (cast free) segments of the show and the wig and wardrobe departments prepare, repair and maintain like magicians. For all the new company members, coming in to the theatre and getting the chance to walk on the set and see all the costumes together in one place for the first time was hugely thrilling. I got a brief chance to sit in the auditorium yesterday and watch a scene being worked through – and the show looks and sounds magnificent here!
Our technical process is being overseen by the extraordinary expertise of our American Creative Team: Lisa Leguillou (Director), Mark Myars (Dance Supervisor) and Stephen Oremus (Music Supervisor/Arrangements). These guys truly know WICKED like no one else and their insight and direction continue to bring new clarity, inspiration and understanding to even those who have been doing the show for quite some time. The technical process can often be highly stressful with intricate changes made to things like blocking and spacing and little time to lock them in.
There is always a particularly humorous and fiercely whispered coming together of cast and dresser as we begin to learn the highly involved tango required for the (many) quick changes that particularly dominate Act 1. People are simultaneously transforming into rats, monkeys and goats, hopping around on one foot in darkness, changing shoes, wigs, glasses, props, and all the while singing intricate harmony. Moreover, people are jumping on and off rick-shaws, carts, bikes and scooters (I personally have more to do with all the aforementioned then my nerves care to truly recognize at this point). It is slowly and surely becoming the perfectly organized chaos that is the incomparable world of backstage.
Earlier in the week we had our first dress rehearsal and this week is a flurry of shows, press and publicity calls and more rehearsal – all leading up to the Australian Company’s International debut – WICKED Opening Night on Friday December 9th 2011.
Throughout all this, Singapore ushered in it’s first day of Winter – which we welcomed with open arms. It was a frighteningly cold 28 degrees with humidity in the high 90th percentile. Freezing. That explains all the fur coats, boots and beanies on display in the designer shop fronts. Essential. See you at Opening Night!