There is something about the second week of a run that makes it feel like the show has finally left the starting gate. In the flurry leading up to opening, everyone--actors, crew, designers, and production staff--works furiously to put all the elements in place for the production. This was especially true for Candide. With the large number of props and costume pieces not to mention the mops, chalk, boxes and rigging, I felt like I was constantly playing catch-up. I told the crew numerous times, "We'll find our groove and it will run like clock work." But I didn't believe myself.
Then the show opened (to great reviews by the way), and we had our first five-show weekend (one on Friday night, and two each on Saturday and Sunday). It was as if the grown-ups had left the building and all hell broke loose. In the push to get the production to a performance level some smaller issues had been put on the back burner. And it wasn't until the weekend, when the entire production staff was enjoying a much needed break, that these little problems came to light. Unfortunately, on a production as big as Candide, the little problems add up. So I still felt behind this past weekend as I searched for shoe pads for an actress whose shoes had stretched too much or worked on a wobbly box for an actor who didn't feel safe. In addition, the crew and I had to work out how to do laundry on two show days and what to do about lamps that suddenly weren't working among other things.
And then we had a day off. On Tuesday evening, I arrived at the theater and the crew and I started set-up. We were done, without glitches, in under an hour. The actors arrived fresh from an almost 48 hour break and settled in as if Candide had been open for over a month. The production staff at the Arden, like little elves in the night, had fixed all the little problems that had cropped up over the weekend.
The shows this week have been fantastic. The actors, secure now in the knowledge not only of their characters but in also how the costume changes, props, and box moves work, are discovering new aspects to the myriad of characters they play. There are fumbles of course--a missed line, wrong notes in a song, and little maintenance things--sewing buttons, finding wig pins. But this show that I thought was too big for me to handle (a few times I thought I'd be discovered as a fraud and 'hung from the highest gibbet') has become manageable. It's almost, dare I say it, easy.
I guess it was all a matter of finding the right groove.