Backstage at CCPA is our behind-the-scenes blog. Contributors are students, faculty, and members of our community.
Joscelyne Tamburri tells us about her experiences as a Year II student, from the classroom to the stage.
We are just a little over a week away from previews and opening night and everything is coming together, but it does feel like the calm before the storm. We are still only rehearsing 4 days a week which means we still have a little bit of time to have fun. And what do a vivacious group of actors and dancers like to do to blow off steam? Why, Karaoke nights of course. Put a karaoke bar anywhere Canada and I’ll bet you on any given night the theatre peeps will be in the crowd. It’s like bees to a flower, we just can’t get enough. I even bumped into a number of CCPA Alumni in the crowd, they are everywhere too!
Tech and Q2Q are next week and then the pressure will really be on. We are in the final stages of cleaning and tightening timelines and most of all, keeping healthy! A raging bug is making its way through the company and its so bad they’ve called for a full sterilization of all surfaces in the theatre. Sleep, supplements and lots of tea are essential to an active performer. We have to sustain ourselves for a 2-month run; luckily we have a day off in between shows to rest. I can’t imagine what it is like to do 8 shows a week like my idols on Broadway?!?
It’s not fun when you are feeling under the weather, but the show must go on. Right now, since we are still in rehearsals, we can make exceptions but a girl can only hold an air squat for so long and if I don’t have my partner, my lifts just don’t get off the ground (even though I have tried). We have 2 primary adult understudies; one for all the male parts and one for the female characters. They really know every aspect of the show inside and out and step in when they can. I love them, but we all hope they are not needed during our run.
As we dive deeper into the characters to put on this wonderfully multifaceted show, we learn a bit more about the history. Many people on this side of the pond do not know that Mary Poppins is actually a series of eight children’s books. Written by P. L. Travers and published over the period 1934 to 1988, the books were a favourite of Walt Disney, who tried for almost 20 years to get Ms. Travers to sell him the rights to make them into a movie. Happily, in 1964 the Disney classic film hit the theatres. It took another 40 years before she allowed a stage musical to be produced, which is a fusion of various elements from the books and the movie. In 2004 Mary Poppins premiered in London’s West End, earning two Olivier Awards; followed 2 years later with its debut on Broadway, receiving seven Tony Award nominations.
As the pieces come together, costumes are finished, set pieces are painted and props are added we get a better understanding of the director’s vision. Each production puts their own spin on things to personalize it, but at the heart of things the story and the magic are always is the same.
Today we added the kite props for the first time. The oversized colour-blocked kites can’t help but make you smile, and we are all practicing miming flying kites. My acting coaches back at school would approve.
Here’s another “Did you know”…The song, “Let’s Go Fly a Kite” was inspired by the Disney lyricists (the Sherman brothers) father, who made kites for neighborhood kids as a weekend hobby. In the film, the broken kite represents the broken family. When Mr. Banks mends the kite and the four pieces are taped back together, the four members of the family are also reunited. By transforming her “suffragette ribbon” into the kite’s tail (in the movie), Mrs. Banks also commits herself to being there more for her family. In our show we do things a little differently but the underlying meaning is still the same.
The magic and the meaning of this show brings a little something to everyone who sees it. So until next time friends, stay classy and sassy.