Ireland Tour Blog: Opening Night (from the Booth)

by Nikki Hoffpauir

The big night has finally arrived. Thursday: show day. The set is up. Light cues are done and firing.

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Sound is programmed and levels adjusted, key since Judge Randolph’s lines were pre-recorded by our Bill Aiken. Mike, the guy who helped set us up here at Town Hall, gave the final approval that everything was up and running appropriately and ran me through the Town Hall procedure about waiting for clearance, and calling down to the bar with 5 minutes until intermission so they could get drinks pre-poured. Finally, 13 actors are in costume and waiting anxiously in the green room for final words from the director. After a brief pep talk from Jeremy, we gave actors 30 and started final preparations. Then it was time for our other Stage Manager Rae to call places.

I’ll be honest…my hands were shaking so much, I was afraid I was going to hit a cue early just from the fingers accidentally hitting my go bar. I got the clearance from the house managers and at a few minutes passed 8, I fired cue 105 to get this thing started.

2014-08-22 21.43.51The pace of this show is incredibly fast….partly because that’s how Aaron Sorkin wrote it. It’s his quintessential rapid fire dialogue, so Maboud (our Kaffee) drives a lot of it. The staging helps too as your focus moves quickly around the stage with scenes flowing from one into the next, sometimes even overlapping. Big scene changes are filled with marine cadences, so there’s no downtime at all really.

Act one is FILLED with quick costume changes, so I breathed a sigh of relief when we made it safely from navy khakis into naval whites back into naval khakis. And then there’s that last scene of Act 1, which is also a massive change…Brianna, Colin and Josh all have to quickly get into their Class A dress uniforms. Brianna and Colin are part of the scene change that happens during the last cadence and Josh has to get ready to help with the final change once Maboud and Ian finish their scene. In less than about 40 seconds, Ian and Maboud have to go from fatigues and navy khakis respectively into their Class A uniforms for the arraignment—very stressful back there but they always manage to pull it off, with a lot of hands helping out. Usually it’s all downhill from there.

2014-08-23 22.42.51Act 2 is heavy on sound cues because of all the judge lines, so it keeps me a bit on my toes. The actors have to focus a lot too because of the rapid courtroom dialogue. Keeping objections straight, tracking files of evidence from scene to scene, and using legal vernacular that doesn’t just roll off your tongue isn’t particularly easy. But they get through it. As always, the Jessup courtroom scene is a big apex with the crowd loving the well-known “YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH!” line and following monologue. The lovely Galway crowd showed their appreciation with a standing ovation that the cast well earned.

Everything just fell beautifully in place. The actors were really on and the show went magnificently. A few little things here and there, but nothing disastrous and very little that could be seen from the audience standpoint. And nothing that isn’t expected for a show that just got on its feet yesterday really. I’m so proud of these folks I’m traveling with. I honestly couldn’t imagine anything different.

2014-08-23 00.36.23After we cleaned ourselves up, we popped down to the bar in Town Hall for a pint or two, a few shots of Jameson, and some wine—no, not all for me . The lovely Fiona took great care of us, and it was nice to finally have a moment to breathe and enjoy all of it. It’s amazing how far we came in just a few days and all by our own hands. There’s an extra level of pride in that. WE put on the show in every way. Now we  can enjoy it. And Galway. At least for a couple of days. For yes, in 2 more days we’re going to strike
the set and pack it up for our move on to Cork. Incredible.