Monday, September 12, 2011

The Actor Diaries

Editor's Note: Actor Kelly Knight is a newcomer to Desert Star Playhouse. She'll be playing Elle Woods in our next production: Legally Brunette. We asked Kelly keep a diary of her experience at Desert Star, to give our friends a backstage look at what’s it’s like to work here. Here are Kelly’s second and third entries...

9/10/11 My First Read-Through of Legally Brunnette. Lots of Kooky Laughs!
By Kelly Knight

From the 2005 Production of Legally Brunette
Since I had never seen a show at Desert Star, Mary Williams (Assistant Director) arranged to squeeze my husband and me into a performance of Hunk-cules just to get an idea of what Desert Star is all about. I was excited to see what I had gotten myself into, and I was also pumped to venture into new territory because, believe it or not, I had never been to a dinner theatre before.

My husband gave me the old elbow in the side when we walked in and saw the other patrons; I had made him wear slacks, and I’m glad he fought me on the tie; otherwise we really would have stood out. Wow, one more point for Utah: casual theatre attire. Again, liking this...

I immediately dug the personal vibe of the show--actors talking to us from the stage, and the pianist coaching us on when and how to respond to sound cues. The result was a bunch of unassuming joes (my husband included) laughing their heads off and clapping in participation.

When the show ended, I stopped by the box office and picked up my script for Legally Brunette. I waited till the next morning to sit down and read through it, and I couldn’t stop laughing. It was one joke after the next, made by exaggerated and zany characters whose conviction was as strong and those of soap operas. This was going to be fun! When I finished reading the script, I quickly became eager to start developing my version of Elle Woods; I had forgotten how fun an eternally optimistic character could be. I had seen Legally Blonde a million times, so I had a few ideas to get started with. And, in a line toward the end of the script, Elle describes her own voice as “sucking helium.” This got me going in a direction. With 3 days before my first rehearsal, I was ready to own Elle Woods.

9/12/11. The First Rehearsal for the New Kid on the Block

From the 2005 Production of Legally Brunette
I got to the theater 30 minutes early for the first day of rehearsal because I wanted to make a dazzling first impression with my punctuality. But my grand entrance was ruined. I couldn’t figure out how to get inside! I tried both the front and back door, but with no luck. Did I get the time wrong? Luckily I stumbled upon a random guy in the parking lot who realized I was the new kid, and he informed me that “the theater isn’t open yet. The actors always go in through that stage door over there.”

Other than a very friendly fellow actor who already knew me by name, I was the first person there. As the other actors trickled in, I felt more and more like a newbie. Everyone knew each other by name, and greeted each other the way actors do after about 6+ weeks of cast bonding. I realized I would have a lot of catching up to do on the social scene, seeing as most of these folks had been working together for years.

As soon as rehearsal began, things felt familiar: First was the script read-through. I got a real kick out of hearing the other actors’ interpretations of their characters--especially the funny voices of the court room witnesses. Next was stage blocking. I’m pretty sure the humor of the show doubled as our director, Scott Holman (a very funny guy with a warped brain) coached us on where and how to move throughout the script, adding many of his own funny bits along the way. Not to ruin any show surprises, but my favorite of these moments is a bit where a witness removes an invisible object from my hair and eats it, shortly after being compared to a big ape. :)

In the last hour, we had time for a quick music rehearsal. I had never worked with spoof/satire versions of familiar songs before, so I was having a blast listening to my favorite Broadway classics be converted into comedic musical interpretations. All in all, the first rehearsal was a lot of fun.

We'll have one more rehearsal this week week, and then we've got a 4-day weekend to get off-book; aka, memorized.

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