Out of Line: The Beginning of a Rehearsal Diary
Andi Denny on the challenges of rehearsing for A CHORUS LINE...
Rehearsal date: Sunday 25th November 2012
Coffees consumed (personally): Three. Very large.
Coffees consumed (company-wide): More than enough for usual bin-overflow.
Hours spanned by rehearsal: Ten.
Musical/dance numbers involved: Seven.
Injuries: Zero (but oh how we’ll cramp up tomorrow…).
Gold/silver glittery hats worn: Approximately twenty-seven.
At the risk of sounding like a total teacher’s pet, I was really looking forward to Sunday’s rehearsal. I mean really, really looking forward to it. Before the usual 2pm start, we were called in to the studios at Dance Glasgow in groups at various points of the day to pick apart the dancing in the opening number, with choreographer Maz’s watchful eye picking us up on even the smallest mistakes. I was called in at 11.30am, the first group, and it was exactly what I wanted.
First coffee. Venti soy gingerbread latte. Name on cup: Andy.
The opening number looks in pretty good knick. For anyone who has never seen it, A Chorus Line opens on a dance audition in progress. There are twenty-four dancers on an otherwise empty Broadway stage in the mid-1970s, and, with the director/choreographer and his assistant in front of them, they are dancing to make it through the next cut. Their necks are on the line. And so are ours.
The dancing has to be of such a high standard that there’s no sacrificing hard moves when we don’t get them straight away. The choreography is just as tough as you’d find in any revival (there are some YouTube videos of the last Broadway revival cast that I wouldn’t hesitate to say it was more impressive than), so the level of performance has to really be up to snuff. We’re not entirely there yet, but we’re certainly rocketing in that direction, and with smaller sessions like these extra ones before the rehearsal-proper starts, we’re definitely going to get there before time.
Anyway, it was exactly what I wanted, to spend that much of my Sunday dancing. Dancing isn’t something I ever enjoyed when I was growing up (attempts at ballet and tap were very short-lived when I realised I couldn’t actually do either of them), but it’s moved up the list of things I love to do so fast you’d think Britney’s first marriage took a long time to end. They could make a Pixar short about how fast my love for dance grew. My love for dance should rename itself ‘Usain’. I’m here all week! Try the veal!
Second coffee. Venti sugar-free vanilla soy latte. Name on cup: Andi
Guy behind counter: Total flirt to me. Totally ignored female friend.
Full cast in and we attempted to make our way through various pieces of the 20-minute-long behemoth that is ‘Montage’. An all-singing, all-dancing number that you’ll see just before the interval (I am, of course, assuming you’re coming to see the show, right? Oh, I knew I could count on you.), ‘Montage’ is a four-part collection of choral numbers, dance breaks, and individual character solos, including ‘Four-foot-ten’, ‘Nothing’, ‘Mother’s Prayer’ and ‘Hello Twelve, Hello Thirteen, Hello Love’. There’s even some chat about STIs, a stripper named Lola Latores, teenage girls ditching Robert Goulet for Steve McQueen, and my own line about Troy Donahue – a name that still makes me want to break into a performance of ‘Look At Me, I’m Sandra Dee’ every time I sing it.
Then came the terrifying prospect of running all four parts of Montage together for the first time. Hopeful (but absolutely sure we’d mess it up), the 17 dancing principals got in line, and we started. Part one…done. Not bad. Part two…done. There’s only one of us in part two, but when do we come back on? Part three…done. We’re actually going to make it through this! Part four… Part four… Part four… YES! Completed. The crowd goes wild!
Gee, that was like the Hunger Games or something in there. Except none of us died. Wait… Where’s Kelly…?
Third coffee. Venti sugar-free vanilla soy latte. Name on cup: Andi. Guy behind counter: Total flirt to me. Much bigger flirt to my boyfriend.
A dinner break. Dinner breaks at Dance Glasgow are usually made up of three parts.
Part One: Where is everyone going for dinner?
Part Two: Everyone ignores where everyone else is going for dinner and goes to get dinner wherever they would’ve gone anyway, thus rendering Part One pointless.
Part Three: Most come back to the Dance Glasgow foyer with their food. Eating between bouts of laughter, terrible jokes, injury complaints and explaining the terrible joke/injury complaints we are laughing about whenever someone else joins the group.
There are so many smells in the foyer during a dinner break, that it’s almost alien sitting out there without being able to smell vinegar or coffee or salsa. For a group of fit and healthy people who spend their free time doing high-impact cardio, we eat like pigs. And then we regret it… Dancing on a full stomach is bad enough (I never eat a lot at dinner time for this very reason), but also we tend to carb-load because of how hungry the afternoon session has made us, so the evening session is heavy and sleepy for some. Of course, some people stayed to do extra work on their solos during the dinner break, so they’re still energised… and hungry…
This evening: singing through two new numbers we haven’t done before, one of which was the finale. The finale (‘One’) is maybe the most famous song from this show. Every time I hear it I think of The Simpsons Halloween episode where a fog turns them inside-out and they break into a parody of it. Totally ridiculous/brilliant. Anyway, the singing goes down a treat once we’ve gotten the bat-s&*t-crazy harmonies out of the way, and we move onto the dancing. As the only number in the show with every cast member dancing, you can imagine how many crashes we had. We’re co-ordinated, we swear, but sometimes you just end up crashing into people. We get the whole first half of the number, including choreographed bows, into our heads, and then attempt it a few times.
It would be a lie to say we got it. But for a first rehearsal, at that time of night, after getting through so much…
We’ve still got a LOT of work to do, a lot of coffee to consume, but… at the risk of sounding like a teacher’s pet yet again…
I think we’ve got this.