Way Off Broadway, episode 3: and suddenly the hinges started to unhitch
Last week, cast members found out which roles they would be playing—everyone except for Harvey, the dentist hoping to play the Lion because he’s done it twice before. At the beginning of rehearsal, Sarina tells Harvey that he’ll be playing the Wizard role and, yes, he quietly rages about it—his face doesn’t hide it, nor do his words during confessional. Almost immediately after we see that Harvey is visibly distraught, Sarina, in her typical fashion, launches into a rant about how she “will not react to [their] disappointment.” Gee, we wonder who might take that constructive criticism a little personally—way to go, Sarina. Still, we’re pleased that she actually addresses the issue, even if she doesn’t do so tactfully.
In more important news, the pressure is on for the cast to learn their lines/cues/dance moves: LeeAnne, also known as Dorothy, realizes she’ll need to practice more and learn to work with her entire body (“LeeAnne is a singing head,” says our loving director); Psychiatry resident/student Jon, the Scarecrow, thinks his mind isn’t “limber like it was at 18.” (He’s 27); Michael O’Morrow, the Lion, thinks someone is going to have a meltdown (and soon); the other Michael is the only one rehearsing barefoot and thus looks like some liberal arts indie pop-folk singer (we love him); and Jodi is still thrilled to be a low-key supporting character, and we dig her honesty, especially since she’s always willing to participate (unlike Taz).
Our favourite part of each episode, though, is turning out to be the home visits and candid, back story moments. Sean, the tall Tinman, runs lines with his buddy and reminds us that, yes, he’s definitely 19 (“oil my pelvic region,” he says). Wicked Witch Sandra works on her performance while hunting (or doing something involving guns), and then proceeds to remind us of Tina Fey as Sarah Palin. In fact, Sandra pretty much nails it across the board during the first serious rehearsal: although she takes her sweet time “getting into character”—so much so that everyone stands around with a what-the-heck-is-taking-so-long look plastered on their faces—she is literally the best thing to happen to this production. Our faithful narrator says, “others find their roles don’t come so easy,” which comes as no surprise to us because we explained why some people may not be so keen last week. Nevertheless, the show must go on and other issues need to be addressed, like where are the munchkins, and who will play Toto? Sarina asks children from her junior class to help, and one young girl has a total nervous breakdown about the thought of going on stage. That’s one out of the way, but our money’s on musical director Shelia throwing the next tantrum, since it seems like she could slap someone any episode now. There’s also this odd web forming: Sarina teaches Rick’s children who will most likely appear in the show, and she also directed Sean as a child in his Oz play.
After this grueling week of actual work, we empathize with the cast a little more. Think of how challenging it can be to loosen up in front of strangers, and then imagine doing that in front of other strangers carrying video cameras that will then broadcast this to an entire country of strangers. Only seven weeks until curtain—hopefully they pull it off.
Sandra, the Wicked Witch of the West. Rick (last week’s sweetheart) is so convinced by her Queen of Mean that he says, “I’m not sure I’d want to be her kid.” She doesn’t only have heart, she’s got soul. Can’t wait to see her in action.
Harvey, the dentist-slash-Wizard. He spends a little too much time being bitter, discussing how “in the many shows I’ve done, usually it’s three rehearsals a week (not two), and we go for seven months.” Have faith! Only when Sarina gives him a song to sing (so that he’ll play nice), he starts to, well, play nice.
Harvey’s wife. She snaps him out of his funk with real talk: “You’re playing the Wizard in The Wizard of Oz—with a song. There wouldn’t be a show without the Wizard.” She makes a damn good point. Dorothy who?
Taz. We know, we’re a little shocked too, but she’s still showing up and that’s a brave feat when you have a silly/terrible attitude. She somehow steps up her game, showing up with lines memorized, which impresses everyone during the first read-through. “I got to channel her inner bitch,” she says of her role. She’s starting to open up—that is, until she goes to Sarina’s house asking for permission to quit the show.