Sunday, July 14, 2019 was our first preview for Private Lives. Sunday matinees are their own animal, and our loyal subscription base comes out in full force for previews. The lobby was abuzz with a sold out crowd. There are always familiar faces, and this time was no different.
I talked to a couple of people who had attended our first read through and were excited to see what we’d done with the show. Several people asked after one or the other of my actors. One charming lady said, “We always know we’re in good hands when you direct.” Very re-affirming and comforting to know that some audience members actually do pay attention to who directs and designs a show.
As noted before, our fearless leader, Becky Udden was backstage doing some last minute tweaks to garments she’d pulled when our costumer failed to deliver everything promised. Luckily, her character only appears in Act III, so she had two acts to do whatever needed to be done. But in the end, all actors were appropriately clothed and ready to perform.
And they did just that. The show went very well, and though I took a few notes, most were minor technical concerns.
First preview audiences are our guinea pigs, if you will pardon the expression. Most are long time subscribers who have been drawn to the less expensive ticket prices for our three previews. They know our theater and what we do and are an enthusiastic audience. But they are the litmus test as to whether our timing is on point or if we are missing our laughs for one reason or another. After each preview, I continue to give notes, to try to adjust for laughs we didn’t expect and capture ones that we expected but did not get, or only got a tepid response.
After the show, the buzz in the lobby was full of compliments and shared laughs over favorite moments. It was reassuring to know that this very sympathetic audience was charmed by the performances and Coward’s language. It will build the confidence of my cast and lead to even stronger and more solid performances. We have a week to burnish the gold in this lovely play before our gala opening on Saturday, July 20th.