Have you ever wondered how amazing plays come together for you on opening night?
I had the opportunity to take notes and journalize the behind the scenes process of the latest show at Prairie Theatre Exchange, The Hound of the Baskervilles.
The Hound of the Baskervilles promises to be a hilarious spoof of Sherlock Holmes’ greatest case but don’t get me wrong, this is no easy play. Why? Well, there are only three actors, count ’em, THREE! And oh my gosh are they amazing. Gord, Toby, and Aaron not only play multiple characters, they also have numerous costume changes AND speak in a variety of accents!
Before I gush any further about them, I want to share with you the culmination of talent and hard work to give us a great show!
I went to the theatre on 3 separate occasions over the past few weeks to capture various time periods within the rehearsal process.
PART 1 – Rehearsal Hall
The last time I saw the PTE stage, it was a simulated ice rink for the Theo Fleury Story, so you can imagine my surprise when I entered and saw this:
It’s astonishing considering I know what the set looks like today! The folks who build the sets deserve medals! A ton of hard work is put into making the environment realistic for us as theatre goers, and I fully appreciate them even more.
After I picked up my jaw off of the ground, I headed to the rehearsal hall where I was able to see the actors rehearse their lines. In attendance were the actors, Director, Stage Director and Assistant Stage Director. I was greeted warmly as the friendly blogger in the room, yay me!
It was entertaining and a complete pleasure to listen and watch the actors as they ran through their lines. The play itself is quite humorous, but I really loved when I was incorporated into some of their banter!
The actors were in partial costumes as they rehearsed. They used a variety of props and they were constantly noting what was working, what wasn’t working as well as their own ideas on how to ensure certain props worked seamlessly with their movements.
The actors were noting their placements on the “stage” (also known as blocking) and how to enter and exit the stage. Throughout all of this, the actors were still “on book” (meaning they were referring to their scripts), yet the atmosphere was casual and fun. I didn’t want to leave!
At the time I wasn’t aware of which scene I was watching (nor did I want to know). Ann the Director was efficient and so professional when providing notes to each actor to improve the scene. Although I think she was laughing more than I was at certain points!
At one point the actors were seated at a table where they ran through a scene and promptly afterwards they moved to the “stage” with their placements.
Overall, it was a raw look at the beginnings of what will be a magical show.
PART 2 – Cue to Cue
The Cue to Cue took place on the actual set. This part of the process is typically known as the technical rehearsal where the entire show is done from each cue, whether that’s lighting, sound, prop changes, or movement that affects the flow from scene to scene.
What a drastic difference from the rehearsal hall! This is where everything comes together. The Hound of the Baskervilles is a very heavy tech show, as there are so many different cues. At this rehearsal, I met each individual in charge of lighting, sounds, sound design. They all have very specific roles and I’m still in awe of what they do.
During this rehearsal there was a lot of repetition as the timing of the sound effects is imperative for the transitions to be seamless to the audience.
Throughout this process, the actors are off book and required to constantly go back and forth within each scene. Some cue to cue rehearsals don’t involve the actors at all however, for a show with this much tech, I know they needed to be there.
I’ve heard the lines of one particular scene so many times that I might even be able to recite it from memory! Regardless, no matter how many times I’ve heard it, I still laugh like crazy, it’s THAT funny!
PART 3 – Full Tech Rehearsal
The last part of the process before the true dress rehearsal is the full tech rehearsal. I brought my daughter for this part and she absolutely loved it. We watched the show from beginning to intermission. It was interesting to see how the actors incorporated some of their notes from the rehearsal hall and the cue to cue.
It was a full run through of the show with very minimal starting and stopping for adjustments. I was amazed at the sheer number of costume and set changes that I wasn’t able to see from earlier parts of the process! I cannot tell you enough how talented these actors are.
Following this rehearsal are the Dress Rehearsal and Invited Dress Rehearsal and then finally Opening Night. You can imagine the countless hours everyone commits to when involved with a show like this.
As an audience member who has been a part of the entire process, I am blown away and urge you to support your local arts and theatre communities! Huge thanks to Prairie Theatre Exchange for inviting me to tag along for this amazing ride.
I only stayed until intermission because I did not want to ruin my opening night experience on Thursday April 9, 2015. This is a show you do not want to miss folks! Get your tickets to the Hound of the Baskervilles today!
Stay tuned for my Opening Night review!
Til next time,