All set up in my littler corner of Helfaer for the last night of rehearsal for "The Foreigner." I even brought dinner tonight. Can I just say the stage looks absolutely gorgeous? I'm so in awe of what the crew is capable of in just about a month. I'm pretty sure I have only been at Foreigner rehearsals for two weeks, although it feels like I have been here for the whole process, and the stage has changed so much since I first got here. The wood floor looks nicer than the floor in my house. They've made the windows look like it is raining outside. Such a talented crew. 

Hour One
Tonight is a five-hour dress rehearsal. It is now six minutes into the first hour, and I have not seen any sign of the cast. It seems like the very beginning part is more so for the crew. The stage manager and other members of the crew have been going over sound and light checks. The crew keeps talking to some mysterious guy who is hidden from my view about catwalks and throwing in certain numbers. Needless to say, I don't understand any of it. I just hope my tuna isn't stinking up the house too much. 

Tonight I do not plan on doing too much filming. I just need to film any key pieces of dialogue that I think I have missed, and try to get a few more closeup shots of the actors. The most important part of my night is probably my interview with Director Todd Denning after rehearsal. My story is about the cast, so I wanted to get Todd's input on the cast, as well. As I may have mentioned before, Todd stepped in about a month ago as director of the show. So, Todd did not cast the actors and actresses in their roles. I think that's a really interesting aspect of this show, so I definitely wanted to learn about that. So, since I will not be filming the majority of rehearsal, I will actually be doing homework during part of the night. Oh, right...I have homework and classes....this isn't all I do. I forget that, sometimes.

The cast just came out in full costume. So tempted to take a picture to include in this blog, but I will save that as a surprise when you go see the show (which you will, right?!). But some of the costumes are absolutely hysterical. The actor who plays the character of Owen has a mullet wig, the actor who plays Froggy wears a mustache, and the actress who plays Betty has been transformed into an old woman. It's awesome. 

I am currently sitting in the dark, except for the lights from the stage and my laptop. Since tonight is a dress rehearsal, there is a very good chance I will be in the dark for a lot of the night. That means I may not be able to set up my tripod (without killing myself). Filming may be handheld tonight. "Jump" by Van Halen is being played as pre-show music right now, which I think means that the run will be starting any minute. 

Hour Two
7 pm on the dot, Todd walked in singing along to the music playing on the speakers. Not so much singing, but imitating the Led Zeppelin falsetto happening. He's awesome. The man is just full of energy. I'm sure the original director would have been wonderful, but I think the cast really got lucky with Todd as their director. And now he just noticed me laughing at his conversation about Snickers and Starbursts. 

So, it turns out the run will begin at 7:30 tonight. That means I have a solid 20 minutes to work on homework right now. Yay? The lights are back up now, so at least I do not have to do homework in the dark. 

The townspeople just walked onto the stage. They are in the middle of what I assume is their pre-show spiel. It includes teaching the audience a song. Too funny. About three minutes until the rest of the cast starts the run.  

7:30. The run begins. 

We are about 15 minutes into the run. The show begins with a scene between Froggy (played by Ben) and Charlie (played by Chris). The first scene of the show was the very first scene I saw the cast work on, just about two weeks ago. Watching Ben and Chris on stage completely brought me back to my first night with the cast. The first time I saw that scene performed, Todd would stop Chris and Ben every few lines to give them direction. Now, Ben and Chris have taken all of Todd's notes to heart and, with the cast in full costume, it is almost like watching a different show. 

Hour Three
Time for my homework break. So excited. You can probably hear the sarcasm in my voice as I type this. The show's been great so far. I don't think I will every get over Armando's mullet, Ben's mustache or Katie's transformation into an old woman. Even after seeing this show about four times, it still manages to make me laugh. There are a couple of a new faces in the audience tonight, so it is great to hear their reactions to seeing the show for the first time.

All this is about the fourth time I have seen the play, this is my first time seeing certain technical elements of the show. It's really exciting to see it in person, instead of imagining what they will look like. Oh wait...my favorite scene in the show is about to come up. Looks like my break for homework will have to wait. Such a shame. 

Oh my goodness. That scene changes and gets funnier every time I see it. Except for I am pretty sure that Chris came close to falling off stage twice during his exuberant, improvised dance within the scene. Well, that would be quite a way to open the show, with a bruised-up lead actor. But I am happy to report that he caught himself both times and there have been no injuries in the show, as of now. 

The show has now reached the end of Act I. The first half of the show runs about an hour twenty minutes. In the psuedo-intermission, the townspeople are back singing to the audience. This time, they are equipped with pots and pans. During the intermission, I also correctly guessed the answer to Todd's random trivia: Who comes out and dances during Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the USA video"? I pride myself on my knowledge of random trivia.

Hour Four
We are about halfway through the fourth hour of rehearsal right now. Nothing out of the ordinary happening. I just keep getting distracted from my homework assignment... which, ironically, is a blog post. In case you are wondering, this blog post is far more fun to write. Just don't tell my professor that. 

Hour Five
The show is getting close to wrapping up. I expect then that Todd will give the group notes before the night ends. After the rehearsal wraps up, I will have a quick interview with Todd to add to my video. 

The last line of the play has been spoken and the lights have been cut. The cast is now taking their bow. The show opens in less then 24 hours. I've only been here about two weeks, but I am still so unbelievably proud and amazed of all the work this cast and crew has done. I absolutely cannot wait for this show to open tomorrow and I cannot wait to see this show with a full house. This has been a long and slightly strange process, by and far. But due to the circumstances I have worked with, I imagine this is pretty darn close to what journalism in the real world is like. This project has been a lot of fun and a huge learning experience. Expect to see my full video next week!

And, if anyone was wondering, Courtney Cox was the dancer in the "Born in the USA" video. 

Alice Harlow Ronconi
09/28/2012 7:56am

Thank you for your fantastic coverage of The Foreigner. Armando is my son. His father and I are thrilled at his pursuit of a career in theater and so appreciated your "behind the scenes" blogs. When he was in Las Vegas, we were able to personally experience the evolution of a show from its audition process to rehearsals to opening night to closing night. We are looking forward to seeing the show Oct. 5, but are also looking forward to your video blog replete with cast interviews, clips, etc.


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