An Awfully Big Adventure: Rehearsal Week 3, NYC; “Before Shipping Out”

Joey deBettencourt

Joey deBettencourt“3,2,1 Go!”

Written by Joey deBettencourt

“3,2,1 – Go!”

Club music is pumping. It is 10:45 in the morning.  Sixteen actors have now rotated into position and begin moving.  Everyone is dressed to move, everyone is sweating and we’ve only been at rehearsal for 45 minutes. Most importantly I am still only half way through the squat/thrust portion of our morning circuits.

“30 seconds!” yells Patrick, our movement coach.

The rehearsal room growls in response as we push ourselves through the circuit.  This isn’t just a warm-up it’s a work out, this isn’t just a rehearsal, it’s boot camp.  That’s because this isn’t just a show, it’s a theatrical decathlon.

In the circle of straining bodies around the room there are actors from varied backgrounds, with a huge assortment of skills; the creative team behind the table is going to use all of them.  The rehearsal schedule laid out for us is intense; there is a lot to be done in the 3 weeks before we leave for Denver.

“One minute, switch!” Patrick yells above the thumping bass.

We move on to tricep pushups.

I had never seen Peter and the Starcatcher before I was cast in this production and so the first week of blocking was a crash course in just how amazing, inventive and precise this show is.  Most nights of week one I was too tired for anything more than collapsing on the couch with a highlighter and my script.

The whole cast is onstage almost the entire show, meaning that even if you aren’t one of the characters in the scene, you are still there helping make it come alive.  There is barely a minute in the show that isn’t carefully choreographed.

“30 seconds!” Patrick calls, I switch to the other arm.

Going from a group of strangers to a well-oiled machine takes work and we are getting there.  This is a talented group and we have been working hard. If I can say so, I think our first run (stumble) through of the show was not too shabby. Our NYC cast members also have the added burden of getting ready to leave town on the 4th, we in the Chicago contingent are fortunate enough to have dealt with all of that two weeks back.  There is a photo of our set going up in Denver that is encouraging us from the sidelines.  I’m looking forward to putting my feet on our set soon.

“One minute, switch!” I move to burpees, which I never should have left for last.

The air is thinner in Denver. Our spacious rehearsal room on 42nd street is dwarfed in size by the Ellie Caulkins Opera House. The amount of people watching us will grow with tech and then explode into previews.  The pressure will be growing too.  Needless to say there is a lot that we need to be prepared for: openings, reviews, publicity are all things lurking in the background. For now though I am feeling lucky that I am just worrying about making it through this set of burpees.

“30 seconds!”  This is the final push, here we go.

I am excited to get on the road with this group.  I don’t exactly know what the road is going to be like but even after only two run-throughs I’m getting that feeling you get when you are working on a really great piece of theatre.

This may be a corny thing to say here but: It’s going to be one awfully big adventure.

“2,1 And Done!”

“Take 5 everyone, then places for top of Act One!”

Joey deBettencourt is a Chicago based actor currently playing the role of Boy in the national tour of Peter and the Starcatcher. He is also a company member of Griffin Theatre (Chicago) where he was recently seen in the U.S. Premiere of Punk Rock for which he received a Jeff Award. @Joey_deB 

About Samantha S.

"I found the theatre and I found my home.” ― Audra McDonald

Comments are closed.