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Monday, September 01, 2008

Looking Through The Kaleidoscope #2: Who's The New Kid?


As I mentioned previously, my first shows with Kaleidoscope Theatre were Dial M for Matrimony and Snow White. The dinner show came first and I thought it was something that was right up my alley. What I didn't realize, however, was how fast this company moved. By the time I found out I was in the dinner show, it was about five minutes to call.

OK, it didn't happen that fast, but it felt like it could have. We only had a few rehearsals and if I remember correctly I wasn't able to be at every one of them. I know I made at least two, but that was it. Thankfully my part did not have a lot of lines. For those of you unfamiliar with Dial M for Matrimony, the part of Pasqualie/Peccarino requires mainly two things: when you play Pasqualie you're old and when you play Peccarino you're annoying. Younger, but annoying. But I already had in my head how to do these characters. The most intimidating part was probably the fact that everyone else knew what they were doing, or at least they were extremely talented actors who made it look like they knew what they were doing.

But fast-paced takes on a new meaning at Kaleidoscope and I think it is especially apparent anytime the company does something other than the fairy tale musicals. While the musicals are perhaps the backbone of the company, the actors and actresses can change over a course of a short time. This has nothing to do with the talent of these actors and actresses, but rather the fact that the shows require very young people in some instances and as much as we might want these kids to stay young forever they do in fact grow. Throw in a couple of years and you might find that "Doc" is a little too tall to be a dwarf now. But we always have such wonderful young talent and I know that the company works very hard to keep as much of these kids as possible. So it wouldn't be fair to call Kaleidoscope the "Menudo" of the theatre world.

With the dinner shows, it can be like "getting the band back together". Here we have a wide range of performers, most of which have been with the company for quite some time. It's a lot of the people that have seen the company grow over the course of thirty years and now we've put these people in a room and told them to have fun. That is where the "fast-paced" comes in. Doing the show is like getting back on a bike for most of the performers. Just give them a minute and every line and movement will come flooding back. This is no longer a rehearsal, it is a jam session. Chaos usually ensues pretty quickly. But its a good kind of chaos. And its a chaos that one can actually step into and not get hurt because this regime is in fact a family. Kaleidoscope isn't a company made up of employees or volunteers but members of a family. You can see it very quickly when you step into the performance space and go over your part for the first time while most of the others have done their respective part many times before. And despite the fact that they know what they are doing, they are very willing to see what you bring to the table.

For those of you reading, I ask you to consider this: going out into the acting world may not always be welcoming. You might run into a group that are only concerned about reputation, fame, and money when it comes to theatre. Those people may only choose to work with you on a strictly professional level. In other words, it will never be about the goofs during rehearsal, or the long tech nights, or get-togethers after a show. Not that the whole theatre world is that grim, but parts of it can be. But once in a while, you find a place like Kaleidoscope and you can be a part of a greater thing. Something that surpasses the standing ovations and autograph lines. It is the ability to become a family and the ability to keep people in your heart for years to come. For those of you fortunate enough to become a member of this family, no matter what happens, remember that you can come home anytime.

Next time, Snow White and seven kids that will climb on you like a jungle gym, all the while singing songs of you and your significant other showing public displays of affection in a nearby red maple (aka "Jamie and Ryan sittin' in a tree...").

In the words of Garrison Keillor, "be well, do good work, and keep in touch."

1 comment:

Carol Cullen Smith said...

Doing the show is like getting back on a bike for most of the performers. Just give them a minute and every line and movement will come flooding back. This is no longer a rehearsal, it is a jam session. Chaos usually ensues pretty quickly. But its a good kind of chaos. And its a chaos that one can actually step into and not get hurt because this regime is in fact a family.

This is the best description of working with Kaleidoscope I've ever seen. I joined them when I was 17 and although it's been a couple of years since I worked with them...and I live across the ocean now....I still feel part of the KaleidoFamily. When you come back, it feels like you never left!

What's your favorite fairytale?