We have finally begun rehearsing Ira Levin’s Deathtrap! This diabolical show was originally slated to open on October 2 but because of the extensions of Always…Patsy Cline we moved it to a January 15, 2016 opening. It is my great good fortune that the cast and designers have all stayed with me through the various postponements – and after the first two weeks of rehearsals, I can say with certainty that you are in for a real treat. This is a dynamite cast and we are having a ball figuring out how to murdereach other (in the show!) and plotting just how much blood we’ll use!
Acting is pretending. All of us in the theater were probably once those kids with hyper-active imaginations who jumped at the chance to play cops & robbers, pirates or superheroes, or to re-enact our favorite TV shows. So to get to work on a show where part of the consideration is how to hold a crossbow so it looks most menacing, or how to believably die on the hearth rug, or exactly when to scare the audience is just so much fun.
And for me it is such a pleasure (and relief) to be back in the rehearsal room. It’s been a year since I last directed and I’ve really missed it. Bringing life onto the stage is always a challenge – you have to balance making the characters real enough for the audience to recognize them but also theatrical enough to tell the story. As a director I have to make sure that the story is being told and that the plot points are clear (and in a thriller that is even more important) – I think of that as making the dominoes fall. You remember that thing we did with dominoes when we were kids? arranging them to watch as a pattern was made when the first one caused the next to fall – that’s what I do in the rehearsal room. One of the things you think about is the audience being able to follow the action around the room – for example, if an actor reacts immediately to something another actor says or does the audience won’t see it. So you have to build in little delays for the audience to turn from one actor to another. That way they will see both the thrust and the parry. It all gets very technical and specific and is why it takes so long to rehearse a show.
I am thrilled too that we’ve already begun selling tickets! We haven’t done a non-musical play since The Odd Couple last spring and haven’t done a thriller in years – and clearly there is pent up anticipation. I’ll let you know how things are coming along – but I hope you’ll join us for Deathtrap.