Ready Or Not...

Tonight, the cast of "Miracle on 34th Street" steps before its first official audience. It's been gratifying to me, and to them, I think, to have the few spectators who have wandered through tech week actually laughing at the jokes and appreciating the moments we have worked so hard to create. For those of you who don't know, "tech week" is extremely difficult for everyone. The designers and technicians are doing a lot of tough work in an extremely limited amount of time. The crews are adjusting to corrections being thrown at them constantly. The stage manager is removed from his seat right up front and put in a dark, lonely booth, connected only by a head set to the rest of the action.

And the actors. Poor things. They're trying to remember everything we've worked so hard on for the last four or five weeks, plus seeing lights, hearing sound effects, moving furniture pieces, and wearing costumes for the first time. Every time I direct a show, I marvel at how well everyone adjusts to tech week. I always secretly wonder if I do as good a job when I'm acting as the people I'm seeing in front of me. I doubt it.

The nights have been late, the tensions have been high, and the challenges have been escalating.

All those things only make me admire the thirty-two people you're going to see in "Miracle on 34th Street." They're telling this rich, warm story in a spare style that emphasizes the humanity and simple charm. They're working so hard and making it look so easy.

So I hope tonight's audience really likes the show. But even if they don't, I do.

Miracle on 34th Street: Patience

This is the part of the process in which I remind myself to be patient with myself, and in which I marvel at the patience of others. Many of the actors in the play have most their lines memorized (two weeks ahead of schedule) and are gallantly struggling to be "off book" as much as they can be. This means they have to be patient with themselves, but their fellows need to be patient with them, as well. Almost no one is word-perfect at this stage.

At this point, we're doing longer sections of the play, moving from small scenes into large group combinations, spending less time on some small moves that used to take us a while. Things seem to fly together--sometimes seamlessly, sometimes nonsensically--and we have to remind ourselves that while this might not be exactly the way it will look to the audience, we're moving toward that goal with greater speed and proficiency.

The designers and staff have been working behind the scenes, independently, and have come up with plans, lists, products, and all manner of fun things for me to look at and approve of. I'm able to see how things in the show will look to the audience. I'm always amazed by how frequently this meets or exceeds the visions I had in my head.

We're all spending longer periods of time together. It's getting darker earlier. We're getting tired from work and school and longer rehearsals. We're spending less time with our families. We're beginning to see what being with these people for twenty performances over the course of four weeks will feel like. And we're adjusting.

One of the themes of "Miracle on 34th Street" is having patience in the belief that your dreams and wishes will come true--if not right now, then eventually. And one of the things I'm enjoying most about directing "Miracle on 34th Street" is watching patience pay off for myself and for all the talented people involved in this production.

Now I'm impatient for all of you to see it!