Remember when I said I would love to live at the Metropolitan Opera House and just be a permanent resident of the theater?
Well, I'd like to make an amendment to that: I would LOVE to live at Radio City Music Hall, and I get to do pretty much just that for the next 12 weeks!!! (No, not live there, but spend the majority of my life there, haha)
Yesterday was our first day of tech at the theater, and WOW. I've only been in the house once when I was really young and we came to see the Christmas show on vacation. It looked like I remembered it, but bigger. That place is huge. The Met is big, but Radio City is a lot wider and the audience set back far away from the stage. It's amazing.
When I went to the stage door I saw people putting up the Christmas trees along the Radio City marquee, only to find the exact same image as the backdrop onstage in the theater! It's the background for our New York at Christmas scene, but it was such a classic moment to see it like that ironically.
I signed in and made my way to the house before I actually got to go onstage, so my moment of shock was more entering the audience and looking up rather than when I finally got to step onstage.
At noon we had "safety orientation" for all the new people to the show to teach us about backstage and such. As we filed into the audience to wait for the stage managers to talk, every person who walked in had the same open-mouthed, eye-widening expression as they saw the theater. What a view.
The stage managers spoke to us briefly about the basic safety rules (no running ever, be aware of all the flying set pieces, stay still if the stage elevators move unexpectedly!) and then we went on a full tour of the whole backstage area - the wings, the stage, the quick change spaces, the basements underneath the stage where all the animals stay and where the elevators drop (the stage itself is made of 4 elevators that go 20-something feet below ground to load scenery and 16 or so feet above the stage). Then we got to go to our dressing rooms, which are quite big compared to past dressing rooms I've been in. It's nice because there's plenty of room for everyone, especially when there will only be one cast a time there.
Then we went back into the house to get ready for rehearsal. We were only scheduled to block and space out Nutcracker all afternoon and be finished by 4pm, but Nutcracker went fast! They are way ahead of schedule, and as we were advised earlier, the schedule can change minute by minute, so we ended up staying til 10pm last night!
Staging Nutcracker was fun but tough. I had to get readjusted to the numbers and lines and spacing and everything, even though it was technically set up the same as how we had it at the studio. All the Nutcracker scenery was there for us, too, which added the next layer. The other "ballerina bears" and I come out of this big blue gift box center stage, and we had to practice the actual opening of the box. I'm in the middle and the other 2 girls are on the doors that open, so when it goes it SHAKES a lot. I have to stand strong in b-plus as I shake with the box and then step down and find my center again to actually dance. The first time it was bit like, woah, but I think I'm getting used to it. It'll be even harder with the bear head I'm sure!
Once I got over that first entrance everything was great. I'm dancing Sugar Plum center stage at Radio City Music Hall! It felt so so SO good to be back on a real stage...it's been a while. I'm so at home there.
After Nutcracker we had to wait around until they needed us again, which turned out to be not until after dinner. So we sat and watched the Rockettes tech for a good 2 hours and then had our dinner break. Of course it was pouring rain by that time, so I just ran quickly to grab a salad and ate in the dressing room.
After dinner we moved on to New York at Christmas and stage almost the whole thing. We weren't supposed to do this until Monday, so we are way ahead of schedule. I think this is the first tech situation I've been in that has ever not been behind schedule, nevermind ahead. I guess after 76 years they have it down pat.
The rest of the evening went smoothly with much less sitting around and much more stage time. We got to see the ice skating rink come up on the stage elevator and ice skaters finally do their real routine (very cool) and we got to use our real props (a camera that really flashes, haha).
It was a LONG day (10 hours there) but time kind of stops when you're in the theater. It's dark all day long and you forget that there's real life going on outside, haha. I felt a little bad because I was supposed to go review ABT last night at City Center since we were supposed to end at 4pm, but I suppose I'd rather be onstage myself than watching others (haha). No, seriously. I was dead by the end of the night, but it was so worth it. I love being onstage and the thing is, most of the time in the past when I've been lucky enough to perform at big theaters like that, I've been a background person or a corps member standing on the side or a kid in a minute-long dance. Now, I'm really really dancing. And it feels really really good.