In live theater it’s called “opening night” and it is when the action just begins with its run of the show.
“Post Haste” had a splendid opening night at the Hedgerow, followed by a festive gathering of audience members, management, cast and crew. In my opinion both Penelope Reed and Brock Vickers delivered the message of their respective characters, Emily Post and Edwin Post, Jr., with complete believability and amusement.
As author and director this result was quite satisfactory, to say the very least!
The “buzz” during intermission and after the performance was exciting, filled with the sound of people being pleased, entertained, and that’s a good thing.
That evening and the next day’s matinee concluded my month stay at the Hedgerow, in beautiful Rose Valley. During this time the weather was beautiful until the last few days when the heat and humidity hung over us like a wet blanket, but failed to daunt our spirits.
I lived in a small room at the Little School House, or “dorm” if you will, with seven young, talented, energetic actors in training, along and Hedgerow’s legendary actress cum “house mother”, Susan Wefel, with whom I would often share a glass of wine and good show biz talk at days end. For me the entire experience provided an atmosphere of comfort and support, a memory that will long live with me as I travel onward.
My main concern was not one of the work I was at the Hedgerow to provide or the weather, accommodations, etc., but of what I was going to eat in order to survive my month long stay. Wonderful lead-in to the ever popular Trader Joe’s and their endless supply of frozen delights, French Roast coffee, which I purchased for the house for my own pleasure and can only assume shared by my roommates. Oh, don’t forget the raisin-pecan bread! The next issue was when to eat in order to keep my energy level from dropping to the floor and that was a matter of strategy which I eventually became very adept at conquering.
The daily routine consisted of hours of rehearsal with the actors, re-crafting sections of the script, resulting in many revisions and subsequent rehearsals. For me the work was rarely over after rehearsal, regardless of the time of day or night, as I would most likely find myself at the round table in the kitchen looking for new ways to streamline the flow of my play and new approaches to directing the actors. As I’ve said in previous blogs being the writer and the director often found me in conflict with myself, not wanting to cut dialogue but at the same time knowing it will fly better on the stage. Eventually this process became second nature to me as the rehearsals progressed and I could see what was needed to make a scene work more effectively.
A month without seeing any television, reading a national newspaper, tapping into AOL, listening to a radio (except for an occasional ride in Brock Vickers classy new auto) and guess what; never missed any of it!
When ever time permitted I would either walk into town, attempt to catch the 118 bus or secure a ride from Susan or Ally, and go into town (Media not Philly) and explore the restaurant scene, usually with great satisfaction and some local conversation. However, there would be the issue of getting back to the house or theatre and that often presented a dilemma for me.
My first time out I walked down State Street expecting to “hail” a taxi and when none was evident I asked a bartender to call one for me and then proceeded to wait, and wait until I finally decided to take matters into my own hands and simply approached a friendly face and asked if they were going in the direction of Rose Valley Road, a method I used at least a half dozen times thereafter, for almost everyone knew of the venerable Hedgerow Theatre, and, furthermore, when I told them I was the playwright and director of “Post Haste”, the theatre’s next offering, well let me just say I was “golden”. I actually believe that I became so popular in my quest that kind drivers would look for this lost soul wondering around town seeking transportation!
Well, I think this is a “wrap” for me but not for “Post Haste” and the cast and crew at the Hedgerow where my play will continue to run until June 28. I and my wife, Sharon, are en route to our home in Portland, Maine, via Amtrak, after my bittersweet adieus yesterday with my new found family at the Hedgerow.
Until another time,
Frank E. Reilly