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From Emma – The Crunch Crunchiest Time of the Year

November 29, 2011

The view from Crunch Time '09

It’s the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, which means that we’re waist-deep into crunch time!

I like to think that Follies crunch time is unique for a number of reasons. For starters, the week before opening any theatrical show is typically a stressful time (affectionately called “Hell Week” by some). Costumes are being fitted; technical cues being programmed; and the last pieces of set are being bought, borrowed, or built. There are plenty of details to be tweaked during production week, and that’s a crunch at almost any theatre in the world.

On top of that, Follies is an original play every year, which means that not only are the cast actors– they’re also writers, directors, and collaborators, all working together to make the show into something artistically cohesive. It’s new material, material that we in the cast and crew all love, but of course we aren’t yet sure that the audience (and you can join that audience, speaking of, by clicking HERE and buying your tickets) will feel the same. There’s a lot of guessing and second-guessing as we do last-minute tweaks. Even the nature of the scenes– many of them built out of improv games and group writing exercises– is to change, adapt to the big picture of the show that only comes together at the end.

And it’s made all the crunchier because at Touchstone, of course, none of us is just doing one job. The Artistic Director and director of the show is also editing sound cues, assembling set elements, designing the program. The Managing Director, in between meetings and emails, is buying and returning props, hot-gluing and stitching costumes, viewing and deciding. The cast, when they’re not onstage, are painting giant presents, assembling matching shoes, climbing ladders to adjust lights, or even just decorating the theatre to make things look a little more Christmas-y.

I have a love-hate relationship with crunch time.

Setting up for Crunch Time '08

There’s a very palpable mania about this week. On the one hand, it’s stressful (as you might have guessed, with the crunching and all) – there will be a lot of fretting and fingernail-biting and nerves fraying, because we want to make this a successful Follies. We want to be new and innovative but traditional and lovable. We want to remember our choreography, get a laugh from the audience, keep the show moving and engaging, be consistent but not predictable, and it takes a lot of stress and strain to make that happen

But it does happen. It’s impossible, and it’s wonderful.

So, that’s where I am: contentedly frazzled in crunch time. Two nights from now, we open. We can’t wait to show you what this year’s crunch has yielded.

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