Under the Hood

Under the Hood, Volume 4

by Katie Woodzick

Saturday:

Hour 1: We are called to the theatre at 1:30 PM. When actors arrive, the director and crew are running tests on pyrotechnic events and we're not allowed onstage. The cast goes to our assigned dressing rooms, putting on rehearsal skirts and shoes and reviewing our lines, lyrics and blocking.

Hour 2: Programming and Production Director (and our producer) Deana Duncan introduces us to the crew: in addition to our stage manager, Rich, we have two assistant stage managers on headset who are stationed on either side of the stage, and light and sound board operators who sit in the booth on either side of Rich. WICA's Technical Director, Tyler Raymond, is also in the booth, adjusting sound cues as needed.

Hour 3: We're finally ready to start the cue to cue rehearsal! We begin running the show from the top, jumping to spots in the script where lighting, sound, fog and pyrotechnic cues occur. This rehearsal is for the tech crew to refine their process and we actors are not in costume. 

Hour 4: Our director, Rob, sits in the house, next to our Assistant Director and Lighting Designer Annie Deacon. By the end of tech weekend, his yellow legal pad will be full of notes on editing sound and light cues.

Hour 5: We're roughly halfway through Act I at this point. There's no way to predict how long tech rehearsals will go. Normally, both the cue to cue rehearsal and first full tech rehearsal happen in the same day. Since Into the Woods is such a complex show, we've been scheduled for two days of tech. At the beginning of the day, we thought we would get through both Act I and Act II cue to cue rehearsal. Now, it's looking like we'll need to either run late tonight or come in early on Sunday.

Hour 6: Dinner break! Cast members have all brought items for a potluck, which we share in Zech Hall. Deana and Rob let the cast know that the plan is to finish the Act I cue to cue rehearsal after dinner and that our call time is moved from 11:30 AM to 10 AM on Sunday, when we'll continue with the Act II cue to cue.

Hour 7: Back to work! We resume the Act I cue to cue. A climbing wall has been built onto the stage left box boom to represent Jack's beanstalk. Rob talks the actors who climb up and down the wall through a safety check list,

Hour 8: We're about to start the Act I finale! Members of the cast are released between 8:45 and 9:30, and that's the end of day one of tech!

 

Sunday:  

Hour 9: We return to the theatre at 10:00 on Sunday. Rob gives the cast notes before we begin the cue to cue rehearsal for Act II, which we're hoping will run roughly two and a half hours.

Hour 10: Several "holds" are called during cue to cue rehearsals. The stage manager calls holds from the booth over a "god mic," which can be heard throughout the entire theatre. Holds can be called for safety purposes, or ask actors to go back to an earlier part of the script refine the placement of cues.

Hour 11: Our accompanist, Kathy Fox, has her keyboard set up in the stage right box, next to the sound and lighting booth. This is also where Morgan Bondelid plays her scenes as the Giant's Wife, watching the actors onstage and interacting with them on a microphone that's fed into the sound system.

Hour 12: Some of the most complicated cues in the show happen during the song "The Last Midnight." There are sound, lighting, fog and pyrotechnic cues, meaning that at certain points during the song, the stage manager is giving four simultaneous "go" cues to four different crew members. We go over this sequence several times, which...

... triggers the fire alarm. All cast and crew leave the building until we're cleared to go back inside. We finish up the Act II cue to cue and break for lunch.

Hour 13: Time for hair, make up and costumes! Each character has a unique makeup and hair design, which the individual actors are responsible for executing for themselves, or finding fellow cast members to help them. Stage makeup needs to be able to withstand the heat of stage lighting--Ben Nye and Max Factor are the most common types of thick foundation that actors use. It can take between 20 and 45 minutes to apply stage make up, depending on how complicated the design is.

Hour 14: Everyone's in costume and ready to go! We're 15 minutes away from starting the first full tech run through--all the lights, costumes--everything! 

Hour 15: The first tech rehearsal takes longer than a normal show does, as the actors are getting used to moving in their costumes, doing quick changes, and the stage manager can still call holds.

Hour 16: We take a 15 minute break for intermission. I've brought a knitting project to help pass the time--Morgan Bondelid and Nancy Pfeiffer can also be seen knitting away at various times during the weekend. 

Hours 17 & 18: We finish Act II! We change out of our costumes and head into the house to receive acting notes from Rob and hair, makeup and costume notes from Mira. We leave the theatre around 7:30 PM. Whew! Tech weekend is over! Only four more full runs and then we get to share the show with YOU, the audience! 

In the words of Little Red Riding Hood, "I'm excited!"


Katie Woodzick is an actor, director, writer and feminist who lives on Whidbey Island. By day, she can be found working for Hedgebrook as an External Relations Manager. By night, she can be found rehearsing at local theatres, writing for Whidbey Life Magazine and singing karaoke. Learn more at katiewoodzick.squarespace.com and woodzickwrites.wordpress.com

Into the Woods by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine is directed by Robert W. Prosch. It runs October 10-25. Visit the event page for more information.

Under the Hood, Volume 3

Ligeia R. Lester (Cinderella) during Into the Woods rehearsal, by Kathryn Lynn Morgen

An interview with Ligeia R. Lester by Katie Woodzick

You're a new face on the WICA stage! Where did you come from? I grew up in Missoula Montana and did about a dozen shows with Missoula Children's Theater. My dad and I would do a show together every year, and it's one of my fondest memories of growing up in MT. I didn't care for the mountains or the weather or the horses, but I loved the theater! This is my first show on Whidbey Island, though over been here for almost ten years.

We hear that theatre runs in the family! Will we be seeing your kiddos on the WICA stage anytime soon? Yes! Both of my children will be in "A Christmas Story" directed by Deana Duncan. And who knows? Maybe we'll wind up doing a show a year and start a new family tradition!

What has been the most rewarding aspect of this production? Meeting so many talented and amazing actors!  I've seen several shows here on Whidbey Island and I'm just thrilled to finally be a part of one of them.

The Slipper as Pure as Gold by cos1163 on deviantart

Cinderella is such an iconic role. What has been your process of getting into character? Well, Cinderella is just NICE. She's the kind of girl I would like to be.  I'm not really that nice, but I think if I draw on the sweetest parts of myself and repress the rest, I can get pretty close to how nice Cinderella is.

I've also spent a lot of time thinking about why she is so nice.  What kind of parents must she have had to raise such a sweet, forgiving little lamb?  What kind of upbringing fosters such genuine goodness?

I'm looking into that part of the character to see if I can get it for my own life. But I also have to remember that this is a fairy tale.  No one in real life is actually that good or sweet, and no parent in real life is perfect. So as much as I want to be the perfect mother, perfect daughter, perfect wife, I have to settle for just playing perfect on stage.

What do you want audience members to know about the show? The music is ridiculously difficult. Sondheim is a genius and a bastard. (Can I say that out loud?!)

And, in the spirit of Bernard Pivot and James Lipton (of Inside the Actor's Studio fame):

What is your favorite word? Peanut. And boogle. That's a tough choice.

What is your least favorite word? But-

What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally? A challenge.

What turns you off? Unreliable people. 

What is your favorite curse word? SONOFA....

What sound or noise do you love? Rain on a tin roof. What sound or noise do you hate? Can I say noisy children? I feel like that's a really mean thing to say, but it's the truth right now. 

What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? I wanna be a rock star! 

What profession would you not like to do? House keeping. OMG I hate house work. The only thing worse than cleaning my dirty house is cleaning someone else's! 

If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? I want to hear Him sing "Ligeia! Ligeia, Ligeia, Ligeia!" To the tune of "Maria" from West Side Story.


Katie Woodzick is an actor, director, writer and feminist who lives on Whidbey Island. By day, she can be found working for Hedgebrook as an External Relations Manager. By night, she can be found rehearsing at local theatres, writing for Whidbey Life Magazine and singing karaoke. Learn more at katiewoodzick.squarespace.com and woodzickwrites.wordpress.com

Into the Woods by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine is directed by Robert W. Prosch. It runs October 10-25. Visit the event page for more information.

Under the Hood, Volume 2

by Katie Woodzick

What is the first image that comes into your head when you think about Little Red Riding Hood? Most likely the cape, followed perhaps by the basket, the woods and the wolf.

For me, creating character starts with visual elements. In our musical, Little Red Riding Hood’s crimson cape is one of four items that the Baker and the Baker’s Wife must collect in order to reverse a spell that The Witch has cast upon them years ago.

This week, we started the process of costume fittings. Our costumer, Mira Steinbrecher, has pulled pieces for each character. There are three racks filled with potential costumes, sorted by large plastic tags. These tags are used for each production, and have painters tape on each side: the front-facing side has the character name, and the back side has the actor name.

Costume pieces are pulled, borrowed, or built. Pieces that are “pulled” come from WICA’s costume loft, which holds hundreds, if not thousands of pieces, organized by clothing type, color and time period. Pieces that are borrowed (or rented) come from local theatres. Pieces that are built are constructed using fabric or taking apart existing costumes and repurposing them.

The costumer looks at the costume plot, often provided in the script of a given play. A costume plot details how many costumes each character has over the course of the play.

In our show, Little Red has one base costume, on top of which two different capes get placed. Our production has a traditional aesthetic, in that each of the fairy tales is costumed from the era in which it originally takes place. Little Red’s inspiration was pulled from the era of Heidi, with an Alpine flair. The base costume is a navy blue dirndl with red embroidered flowers, a vintage piece borrowed from Studio East in Kirkland.

The first cape is the iconic red one with a hood. Mira pulled a beautiful vintage wool cape donated to WICA that was originally from Saks 5th Avenue. Costumes must be adjusted for function as well as their visual appeal. In our show, the Baker temporarily steals Little Red’s cape off her shoulders, so Mira will modify it to have a front clasp that easily comes apart.

The second cape is made from the skin of the wolf. Little Red proudly proclaims to Jack: “My granny made it for me from a wolf that attacked us. And I got to skin the animal—and best of all, she gave me this beautiful knife for protection.” Mira is crafting the wolf cape from a piece originally used in Gaielle Remembering.

In addition to the dirndl and the capes, Mira has built a red and white mop hat with red lace trim, for comedic effect as well as to age down the appearance of a 29 year old actress playing a 14 year old character.

Mira then secures pins to create new hems for petticoats and mark spots to later place fasteners, etc. In the five weeks between now and production, Mira and her crew of volunteers will finish costumes for the other 24 actors in the production.

Mira reminds me to let my readers know that there is always room for volunteer stitchers and wardrobe/dresser folks for the run of the show! If you’d like to be part of the magic, you can email Mira: MiraJean@whidbey.com.


Katie Woodzick is an actor, director, writer and feminist who lives on Whidbey Island. By day, she can be found working for Hedgebrook as an External Relations Manager. By night, she can be found rehearsing at local theatres, writing for Whidbey Life Magazine and singing karaoke. Learn more at katiewoodzick.squarespace.com and woodzickwrites.wordpress.com

Into the Woods by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine is directed by Robert W. Prosch. It runs October 10-25. Visit the event page for more information.

Under the Hood, Volume 1

by Katie Woodzick

I was introduced to musicals from an early age. We didn’t have a television in our apartment in the suburbs of Madison, but we would borrow my father’s TV/VCR combo from neighboring Milwaukee whenever I was sick.

My mother picked out a handful of VHS tapes to entertain me while I stayed home from school with the chicken pox when I was seven. I started grabbing for the Disney movies, but she stopped me. 

“Why don’t you try this one first?” She held up a copy of Yankee Doodle Dandy, staring James Cagney. 

“Aw, Mom, it’s in black and white. It’s gonna be SO boring!” I whined. 

“How about this: just try watching the first ten minutes. If you don’t like it, you can pick another movie.”

I begrudgingly agreed to the bargain, and a life-long love of musicals was born.

I would go over to my neighbor’s house after school and spread Cheez Whiz on Ritz Crackers and watch Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Gene Kelly and Cyd Charisse sing and dance their way across her television screen.

I first experienced the work of Stephen Sondheim through the film of musical West Side Story. I would watch it on a seemingly endless loop when I visited my grandparent’s house. I danced through the olive green tiled kitchen snapping my fingers and singing, “When you’re a Jet, you’re a Jet all the way!”

The first time I saw Into the Woods, I was twelve years old. I was mesmerized by the music and the storyline. I was amazed that a musical could transition so quickly from being hilarious to heart-wrenching.

I was (and still am) big fan of Weird Al Yankovic, and was struck by the similarities between the way he would take a song that everybody knew and alter it to make it more entertaining. Into the Woods takes fairy tales that everyone knows, such as Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, and Jack and the Beanstalk, and tells them in a different manner, making them intersect.

Act One follows the characters through the arc of the story with which people are familiar. Jack slays the giant, Cinderella gets her prince, etc…But Act Two goes further in imagining what happens after each of the characters respective “Happily ever afters.”

Currently, we are in our fifth week of rehearsal. Our director, Rob Prosch, is teaching us our music with the assistance of Jess Monett, our accompanist. The score has over sixty-five musical numbers. 

Many of us participate in community theatre because it feels like family, like home. The rehearsal room is a place where it is safe to try and fail: a place to be held by castmates, the stage manager and the director. And, finally, after weeks of putting it all together, it’s ready to share with you, the audience. 

We’re so glad you’re part of our theatrical family as well.


Katie Woodzick is an actor, director, writer and feminist who lives on Whidbey Island. By day, she can be found working for Hedgebrook as an External Relations Manager. By night, she can be found rehearsing at local theatres, writing for Whidbey Life Magazine and singing karaoke. Learn more at katiewoodzick.squarespace.com and woodzickwrites.wordpress.com

Into the Woods by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine is directed by Robert W. Prosch. It runs October 10-25. Visit the event page for more information.