Our official pics were recently finished by Dancing Lemur, and the new movie has been out for a bit, so no better Friday than today to tesser and flash it back to Little Theatre of Winston-Salem’s A Wrinkle in Time this fall.
To be perfectly honest, I had no intention of auditioning for this show. I felt pretty certain that I would be doing one of my more traditional obnoxiously belty blonde in skimpy clothing roles this fall. But when that director preferred a different — younger — take on the character, I spontaneously went to these auditions a few nights later because “well, if one of the roles is the mother of a teenager, they can’t cast her with a teenager, can they??”
The lobby was packed for the auditions. They ran things a bit differently than usual, making cuts and sending people home quickly, narrowing the group down to the final cast and sending them home with scripts. As there were many, many more teenage girls than anyone else, I ended up sticking around much longer than planned. Pro Tip: always pack a book. Or two. At the final reads, the “actor #2” role (Mrs. Murry, Mrs. Who, Camazotz Woman, and Aunt Beast) was down to me and one other very talented — but very tiny — woman. As I had just lost a role to someone much smaller than I, I was prepared to do the same again, but, when it all shook out, my height was an asset, I suppose.
While I love big ol’ musicals, there is always something special about a small cast show. In this case, the adults got to have extra fun playing multiple characters. My first character was Mrs. Murry, scientist mother to the heroine, Meg. Fun fact: Mrs. Murry’s first name isn’t even mentioned in the original book, but it does mention that she has flaming red hair. Knowing that no one would care about this point but me, and knowing that there would be some crazy costume changes and no time for a wig, I logically asked if I could dye my hair. Once upon a time, when I lived 1.3 miles from my bff hair stylist and worked at a theatre with no budget for wigs, I used to change my hair color for every role, so it was fun to harken back to those constantly evolving days. I always need a reason to go red since, not-so-fun fact, it fades more quickly than any other color.
I spent the entire show with my Mrs. Murry dress on under everything else. My fastest costume change was from the first Mrs. Who scene back into Mrs. Murry. I would literally sprint down the backstage hallway from one side of the stage to the other, leaving costume pieces in my wake — the first of many shoutouts to our awesome dressing crew! One night, I forgot to take off Mrs. Who’s glasses and had to hide them under the tray I was holding. Ah, live theatre (:
Mrs. Who’s costume was spectacular. Jeanette took a wonderful vintage gown and turned into the most amazing overcoat that I am not so secretly hoping is in the next costume sale. And can we talk about the ghost costume — with glasses?? Love it.
Aunt Beast was… a beast. Fantasy costumes are always a challenge for community theatre budgets. This one went through several variations, and I am very grateful for the construction and dressing help! I may or may not have almost walked offstage one night early in the process when I literally could not see. I figured someone would yell before I got too close. They did (: My favorite part of this costume was that I wore a set of the guys’ platform shoes from Mamma Mia. There was felt on the bottom so I could glide which a – looked cool, and b – kept me from stepping on any of the hanging fabric. Plus, the extra height enabled me to do a proper sitting squat when Aunt Beast is to hold Meg and to keep the position without my legs giving out. Aunt Beast spent a large part of a scene off to one side, and I had to something to make her alive without drawing focus from the action. In the end, I would move my fingers – which had “tentacles” attached – with my breath, a subtle movement that several people remarked on as interesting and a good choice.
And that was a fun thing about this show – choices. There were so many to make between four different characters! While I had planned on doing the norm this fall, I ended up showcasing the fact that I am more than just a dumb blonde with a big voice and great legs…. she says matteroffactly. We actors have to know our strengths (:
I could not have asked for a better cast and crew. Everyone was so dedicated and so hardworking. And these kids…. there are quite a few adults in the theatre world who could take lessons on professionalism from these young ones. They could be goofing around and talking and then immediately snap into place and character when called upon. They knew when to be quiet, when and how to ask questions, were offbook early, and always prepared, always focused. This doesn’t apply just to my castmates, but to the kids helping backstage, as well.
There was a lot of tech for this show — though definitely not as big a budget as the new Disney movie (; — and it all went off super smoothly thanks to the dedication of the whole group. And speaking of tech — it’s totally rad that two of my favorite people, the Bobby Pins and Shakespeare gals who keep me sane on regular basis, did set, sound, and lighting design. Technical theatre is definitely an old boys’ club, but these ladies know what they’re doing — be on the look out for their all female tech company coming soon!
A very fun part of this production was that my two eldest nephews got to come down from PA to see the show. OK, the littlest nephew, one set of nephew parents, and my folks came along, too, but everyone but the nephews has seen me on stage before. We had a fun visit, checking out Kaleideum North and giving them a special backstage tour.
Despite my wonderful experience with this show, it did make me realize I was ready for a break. I’m glad that if this is my last community show for a while, it was such a good one with such great people and such a timeless story. Here’s to all the awkward, bespectacled nerds with crazy hair. Megs unite.
All Dancing Lemur photos by Thao Nguyen — since Jenny was busy running sound for the show!