Some thoughts from Director Louis Butelli
As I write this, the cast and crew of CYCLOPS: A Rock Opera are just beginning a break-neck sprint to the finish line – Opening Night at the 2011 New York Musical Theatre Festival.
We open on Thursday, September 29 at 8pm. There is a sick afterparty later that night. Let me tell you a little about what our day leading up to that party will be like.
7:30am – Full Company meets at Starbucks, 47th Street and 8th Avenue. We drink coffee and tea and coconut water, and generally fuel ourselves for the day ahead.
8:00am – We arrive at the 47th Street Theatre to start a day of utter madness. We load in all of our instruments, amps, cables, our scrim, our costumes, props, assorted bins of extra bits and pieces, lots of gaffer tape – all of the necessaries.
We hang the scrim, we get the stage set-up organized, then we cable, patch, and test the 12 vocal mics, the four guitar amps, the two mics for the drum kit, etc. Meanwhile, front of house team starts assembling the programs for that evening’s patrons, the cast find their costume pieces and set their props, stage management and LX department fire up the light board and start to run through the preliminary cues the designer has programmed.
9:00am – Tech begins. We work our way through the show to finalize all of the looks for the lighting design. This can be tedious and long. The cast hit all of their marks so that the final design can make them look their absolute best. We’re also adding a follow spot, and the operator needs to know where everyone moves so they can catch them with the light. Basically, we do this for every single look in the show. We’re a rock show – so we have a lot of looks.
1:00pm – Having moved technically through the show, we now re-set to the top of the show, fix any glitches, work out any spacing issues (obviously, the dimensions of the stage are different from the dimensions in the rehearsal hall – so some things will have to change), and run any complicated sequences for human traffic patterns.Then, we sound check. Sound is the number one component of our show. The lifeblood of CYCLOPS is the music, and the spirit of CYCLOPS is in the Sound. We absolutely MUST get this right. Our TD (and lead guitarist) Ben Sherman and a number of staffers from our team and the 47th Street Theatre will go to work to be certain that the monitor mix on stage is perfect for each musician, that the vocals are crisp and clean, that the tones of each guitar are correct and in harmony with each other, that this vital “additional character” in the show, the Sound, is perfect.
We do it all again! Only, this time, it is a Dress Rehearsal – performances at full show levels, all of the lights and sound as they will be in performance, essentially, it’s a run with every element in place…except for the audience. This is pretty much the last chance we get to perform the show before inviting people to come and watch it. Adrenaline levels will be high.
Between the Tech, the Sound check, and the Final Dress, we’re probably at around 5:30pm by now.
At this time, we’ve got one hour for anybody in any department to address any major issue they’ve got left to fix.
At 6:30pm, the cast takes a dinner break for an hour, and the director, the producers, technicians, and front of house staff have a meeting – we’ve got to be sure all of the technical components are completely flawless and ready to go, we’ve got to be sure box office count and guest list are in place, and we’ve got to set the tone for an amazing evening. We get an hour to do this.
At 7:30pm, the cast returns for their half hour call. We go backstage to get into costume and makeup, perhaps to say a few prayers. At 7:55pm, “places” is called. We get in a circle, we stand shoulder to shoulder, we take a few deep breaths, we bleat like goats and stamp our feet and then…
…well, what happens next is up to you. Hopefully, you get swept up, transported, moved, made to laugh, to smile, to think, and, it’s not a stretch to say that, by the end of the night, you might sing along.
As the Executive Director of Psittacus Productions, the producing entity of CYCLOPS, and one of the people who commissioned and assembled this amazing team, as the Director of CYCLOPS, and, most preciously, as a fellow performer in this amazing evening of music and theater, it has been my great honor to watch this project grow and evolve.
This extraordinary group of artists has been working on CYCLOPS for just over a year. It’s been amazing to watch them grow and evolve as well.
There are performers in CYCLOPS who have never been in a piece of theater before. There are people who have been asked to step far outside of their comfort zones, in some cases to transform into Goat Men, in others to become spectral Demon Women, and in three very unique cases, to embody the God of Wine, the hero Odysseus, and the complex and intriguing Polyphemus, the Cyclops himself.
I have been astonished regularly by the bravery shown by these performers. With their hard work, their passion, their dedication, and their immense talent, they will work magic at the 47th Street Theatre…and beyond. To say that I am proud of them would be an enormous understatement. To tell you of my love and respect for each and every one of them would not be enough. They are family.
Come and see our show…
You’ll be dazzled by the sexy Maenads, Nicole Flannigan, Madeleine Hamer, and Lauren Augarten.
You will fall in love with the nerdy and endearing, yet strong, savage, and rocking Satyrs Benjamin Sherman, Paul Corning, Jim Bertini, and Chris St. Hilaire.
You will fall through the looking glass, and share with Odysseus, Chas LiBretto, an immense sense of wonder at this strange new world.
Your face might melt off hearing the voice of Our Lord Dionysus, Korie Blossey.
Finally, don’t be surprised if you shed a tear at the fate of Polyphemus, Jayson Landon Marcus, who is also the show's Composer and Musical Director. He loves, he rages, he loses, he strives, he fails, he is duped, he is blinded, and, finally, he just accepts himself. It is the hardest thing to do, be you man or monster.
“He’s a Cyclops, baby. Isn’t he a bit like you?”
8:00pm – House lights dim and go out. The sound of water flowing through a cave swells. We notice shadowy figures on the stage, and then, “it’s time.” We begin. Come and join us.
Thank you to my Satyr Family, the entire cast and crew of CYCLOPS: A Rock Opera. I love you guys. Be brave. Be bold. Be confident.Happy Opening.