Ok. So I made it... just barely. Sleepy Hollow was one heck of vocal load for one little Jo Jo who doesn't do stuff like that every day. It should been training for a marathon like Derek Dyer, and instead I just started sprinting without having time to stretch. But - we got through it. And I'll tell you about it... But first... Ok. So - Sleepy Hollow came together in a whirlwind of last minute-ness. It wasn't that we had put anything off - it just kept evolving and we only nailed down the right solution for it very late in the game. And that meant that as Rich and Janice were SLAMMED figuring out the insanity of the brand new in-house food situtation, I had the laptop duct-taped to my face desperately writing the 273 sound cues that we ended up with. By the last run-through I had most of them done... about 20 new ones by the invited final dress rehearsal, and then about 10 fresh new surprises for Rich on opening night. And there's nothing he loves more than new cues on opening night. :)
One of our biggest challenges was that Rich was such an integral part OF the show... with him being torn in seventy different directions as always, and all the kitchen craziness, and set-up etc. it was all that much more for him to deal with. But, like a trooper, while I was upstairs churning out fifty different horse hoof sounds (like seriously!... so many of them ended up being my clicking my tongue because I had to have so many variations...) he wrote most of the light cues on the fly and then we put the whole thing together. While we were draped in Slankets...cuz it was chilly.
Andrew, our S.M. did great working really quickly - and we pretty much teched the whole thing over two days, going through each sound cue at a time... and then we managed to have time to run it twice through. My biggest problem was that the punctuation was so freakin' bizarreeee... I had to score the thing and underline and put breath marks everywhere because the sentences go on forever AND the run-on sentences can just confuse the crap out of ya.
And as all this was going on... we were getting ready for the FOOD. One of the trickiest things was that the chef we wanted to hire, Sarah, wasn't available for every night of this run...she can do the whole Christmas show. So we needed to co-ordinate between her and a relief pitcher as well. Plus the person she wanted as her helper, her sister, also couldn't do every night. Which meant that sometimes we would need someone to cover plating duties etc. All of this had to be figured out at the same time we were figuring out how to do it in the first place.
Rich and Janice basically spent the week running around Fort Wayne price and quality comparing lettuce in sixty different stores... carrots... and pork...and ground beef...etc etc. And they had to figure out where it was all going to be STORED. The original refrigerator in the kitchen went downstairs....replaced by a large commercial refrigerator only unit. And in the basement below the kitchen there are two fridges and a freezer. If the Maytag repairman had a BatCave...it would look like this basement.
Another fun little monkey wrench was the dessert that Janice and Rich planned, Janice's awesome chocolate trifle, was being served in martini glasses. And had to be refrigerated. 70 martini glasses. Which take up...y'know SPACE. So two fridges, each day, were instantly packed with the desserts...plus Janice and Rich were having to get up and make them every morning.
So - in the middle of all this craziness, we had committed ourself to doing an invited dress rehearsal for free for the Children's Library. And - the night before... after finally getting over this evil death flu... my voice suddenly disappeared. I mean it was rough... I didn't know what the heck I was gonna do. I just started gargling with salt water every hour an hoped I'd make it through.
The kids were supposed to come in costume... eighty of them... and then have a sundae, and then see the show. The kids were supposed to be pre-teens... which I think is an easier crowd to impress. We ended up with a gigantic hoard of fourteen, fifteen year olds...and it was kind of a rough night. It was fine... but teenagers can be a tough crowd. I had specifically asked that we make sure all the styrofoam cups etc. were put in the trash before the show started... but somehow that didn't happen, and so a few very helpful younguns decided to accompany the show with active spoon/cup percussion. But - considering the horror stories I've heard from folks about teenage audiences (Hamlet beginning 'To Be...' and the entire audience screaming back "Or not to Be!" for instance...) we coped pretty well.
We knew everything was going to taste good...all the recipes had been tested out and figured. Come opening night Rich and Janice hadn't really slept for three days because they were so stressed out about how it was all going to come together. Sarah came in at 11:00 and started work and everything seemed to be working just dandy. But then, as the hour approached, she realized that there were a few logistical things that they hadn't accounted for... and it all started to get a little nutty. The problem wasn't getting the food cooked. It was where it would go ONCE it was cooked. They had planned out how and when everything would go in the ovens...but once things came out there was no longer ANY room to plate the seventy dishes for each course. And so... at around 6:30 (when salads are normally flying out of the kitchen) there were only twenty plated and ready to go. They looked gorgeous...and tasted great...but there were only twenty of them. And, then it kind of snowballed. And snowballed. The food was going out hot... and looking and tasting just dandy... but it was not a quick process. They had no assembly line planned out, AND there just wasn't any where to lay the dishes down if there WAS an assembly line. The kitchen had been large enough to cook the food...but not to get the food TO the person eating it!! Blerg. It was so nutty that I even got recruited to help in the bar...
Rich started doing his fabulous job of going round to each table and being terribly charming... explaining it was our first day cooking the food in-house, and that things were taking longer than we would like. I was in the bar having a nervous breakdown.
LOOKING LIKE THIS GUY... So - the show went up an hour past the normal time. I was freakin'. Luckily the food was hot, and everyone liked it... and people had yummy bread and the new two kinds of whipped butter to snack on. ALSO luckily the show was a short one. Sleepy Hollow only ran 55 minutes without an intermission... so our audience, used to a 2 hour show, didn't have any baby sitter problems to contend with. (I'm always very concerned about people's baby sitter schedule - which is pretty ironic considering that most of our patrons' children are over 40).
Anyway - by the time we got the show up and running we were all pretty much wound tighter than a Swiss Clock...but it went well. The audience laughed a lot more than I expected (which is a good thing)... and my voice, which had been very, very shaky for the past two days, managed to hold out.
After the show, Rich in his infinite wisdom, got on the mic and told the audience that because of the delay, and because it was our first night and things were a little rocky, that we wanted to pick up everyone's bar tab. He also, immediately added "ding ding ding... bar's closed". People really appreciated the gesture...and if there were any feathers ruffled earlier in the night - it seemed like everyone was now, quite delighted. And several people said it wasn't even neccessary - but we felt it was.
Of course, a few days later we heard that a rumor was going around that the opening night had been such a nightmare that we had refunded everyone their ticket prices back. Yeah...nope. Ah... gossip.
That night we sat after the show and trouble shooted the whole process. Originally Sarah and Rich both thought we weren't going to need warming trays - because we had the oven space... but that turned out to be a major key in why we didn't have any way of plating. There was nowhere to get the stuff put once it came out of the oven to plate it. So - Fix-it solution number one... get five warming trays. The whole geography of the room was sorted out so that we knew exactly where each thing would be placed at what point in the night... Janice and Rich went the next morning and got two really long folding tables which could be used for plating plus a bunch of rolling metal shelf units where pots and pans etc. (the other nightmare) could be gotten out of the way.
And the next night the show started only fifteen minutes past the 'ideal' curtain time. A HUMONGOUS improvement. It was such a relief. And by mid week, even with Sarah out of commission for two days, they had a game plan and Nathan and Eva were able to do a great job filling in. The food was good. The portions were large. The rolls were hot. All was well.
The greatest thing about the whole week was how many people came in costume... it was kind of amazing. We expected some folks on Halloween night itself...but they came ALLLL week...
My poor little voice made it through by the hair of it's chinny chin chin. The real culprit was the last section - the scary chase sequence - which is just really intense...and it's tough to even get a single breath at any point. By the end of the week, I was soooo glad to be able to rest. It's a much more intense thing to do that the Christmas Carol for some reason - AND I only did the Christmas Carol one time last year. But by Saturday, doing the matinee and the evening show, I was toast. The day after that we had a literary dinner where I was supposed to do 10 minutes of A Christmas Carol and ten minutes of Sleepy Hollow (yes, I thought it was as odd of a request as you do. Kind of like, "And now, here is two pages of Moby Dick, followed by Danielle Steels Scruples". What?????". But by then I just had kind of stopped talking to anyone and hoping I'd be ok when the time came to stand and deliver.
Amongst the rest of the hilarity, a certain weiner dog managed to locate an entire BAG of Brach's marshmellow Halloween Pumpkins. And eat the entire bag. It was right in the middle of the shows, and that night Po acted like she had...well...eaten an entire bag of sugar. There is absolutely no reason why MELLOW should be in the name of this food item. They shoud be called Marshcrazies. She was NUTS. Plus she started throwing up bright red marshmellow goo - which is NOT fun to clean up at 4:00am. And the next morning she started to pee bright orange for two days.
Great. Rich didn't sleep all night for more than five minutes at a time because of it.
Post marshmellow she is now just dandy. In fact I managed to take some really cute pictures of her and the pack leader - so here ya go.
ANDDDD on Halloween day - we did the matinee... THEN before the evening show we had the Po's annual Huntington Theatre Dog Costume Contest... We serve cider and dog treats - this year we upgraded to Pupperoni. Last year the only dog who would eat the milk bones was (three guesses) Po. And we bought them at Sams Club... she still snacks on them.
Love, Jo Jo.