"Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming, swimming, swimming."
(attributed to Dora from Finding Nemo; commonly quoted by one of my director/choreographer. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, go rent the movie.)
This was our motto for the summer. At the bare minimum, at least once every 2 weeks (during tech), we were just trying to keep our heads above water. With Full Monty, however, it's been pretty much since day 1. It's turned out to be a great show - hooting, screaming and standing ovations every night - but it's been such an ordeal. Here are a few highlights:
1) We got the Monty stripping costumes 2 days late. 2 days may not seem very long, but this is summer stock and we only have 7 days to rehearse before we tech. We asked for the costumes early so the guys could practice and get accustomed to the costumes. It may be the last 5 minutes of the show, but if the guys are freaking out over the last 5 minutes, it could kill the entire show.
2) Props. This has been thorn in the side of every production. Why? Because the props master is lazy, unprofessional and has no business being in the business.
3) Sets. I got no less than 4 versions of the ground plans of the set throughout the rehearsal week and the version I was working off of when we moved up to the stage (apparently) was 1 or 2 versions old. The set designer failed to give me the updated version. Didn't really matter since we changed the set before we started tech and during tech. And no one was giving me any information.
4) AFM (American Federation of Musicians) - we have to use union musicians in our orchestra pit. I have nothing against unions. I'm in a union. AFM says that after 3 hours (on a performance day), they go into overtime. We've been coming down about 1 or 2 minutes over 3 hours. It's just one musician in the pit who's raising a stink about it. I wouldn't care except I have the producers breathing down my back, calling me every morning to see what I've done to get us under the 3 hour mark. I don't need an alarm clock, my producer's morning calls takes its place.
5) My assistant, or rather, ex-assistant. Useless & lazy. She had been an ongoing problem all summer, but since I was on the other stage management team, she was not our problem. Until they moved me up. Then she was my problem. At the opening night cast party (hosted by a local pub), she was caught drinking (yeah, she's underage). Did I mention she's not exactly the brightest bulb in the bunch? This turned out to be a good thing. My producers called me in for a meeting the following morning and they told me that since it was the last week, they would just put her on probation - which is very generous since company policy is that underage drinking is grounds for immediate dismissal. I told them about the complaints from the crew, her laziness and how she single-handedly delayed the start of tech by almost an hour and I said it would be best for the show, cast and crew if she was just fired. So they fired her. Her replacement came in with less than 30 minutes to go over her show assignments (which is quite a bit) and pulled it off better than she who was with the show from the very beginning.
I know this is a big rant, but it's not all doom and gloom. The cast has been great, my crew has been phenomenal and it's a fun show with a rockin' soundtrack. If you get a chance, go see it. If you're in WV or in the Pittsburgh area, come see ours.