Wednesday, March 24, 2010

1 in 27 - How do you fit all those cast members into the Griffin rehearsal space?

Jennifer Bettancourt plays Bobbie in our upcoming production of STAGE DOOR. A recent graduate from Notre Dame, Jennifer provides perspective from one who is relatively new to the Chicago scene.

So far, whenever I tell people about Stage Door: the setting, the gist of the plot, and especially the cast size/make-up, nine times out of ten I get, "There are HOW many girls?! Whoa!! Please, you HAVE to tell me about the drama that goes on backstage!" and for those that know The Theatre Building, there's the additional, "Ha, Have fun in those dressing rooms!" As of this point in the rehearsal process, though, I'm pretty happy to say that I'm only seriously concerned about the dressing rooms...

After doing the staged reading last year, I feel really lucky and beyond excited to be able to delve into this script and get to know the characters and their relationships again, and much more fully. When we did the reading, everyone except a few were given multiple characters and, at least for me, it was like a really cool challenge to try and give each one their own distinction while sitting down and without changing costumes. This time around, I'd be lying if I said I didn't keep my eyes and ears open during the first few reads to see how these "new girls" chose to play the parts I'd done and perhaps it's petty of me to admit that I was worried I'd never be able to fully let go of the idea that I'd once said that line differently. As we've gone along though, it was beyond easy because of everyone's enthusiasm for the script and the story (no one more than Robin, and that energy has done wonders, at least personally, to make my excitement just continue to grow with every rehearsal). The ensemble nature of the show has made it essential for each character to know themselves in and out and embrace what everyone else offers.

We're now in my favorite time of the rehearsal process: Books are dropped, blocking is done, and now it's time to string it together and explore and play! I've always been tickled at the idea of playing Bobby but the more we rehearse, the more I discover her and really dig the person we're becoming together (that doesn't sound too strange does it?) For example, despite what I think of myself walking down the street on any given day, when I think of being Bobby I immediately feel lighter, springier, flirtier, more in control of that flirtation, and really oblivious to time. It also works in reverse as I relate onstage the Bobby that is tempered by who I am as an individual. We also, meaning the girls of the Footlights Club (not me and my apparently multiple personalities), have spent enough time together in rehearsals to start becoming familiar with each other and it's exciting to see where different bonds and friendships are forming. It isn't that there are people NOT getting along (or maybe there are and I just am not cool or perceptive enough to know) but the substance of actually knowing and liking the people you're onstage with and why you like them, what it is about them specifically that makes you giggle or wince, is invaluable.

Given the time the girls have had in the last few weeks just to rehearse with one another I don't envy the guys (aside from Chuck...poor chuck, reinforcements are coming soon!) having to come into it and find their way in this nest of women giggling, gossiping, and constantly in various states of dress (actually, maybe they won't mind so much...). It's only gonna get better from here on out and I can't wait to see where we all end up together! While there may develop some drama backstage, I'm sorry at this point to disappoint those that were expecting it by reporting what can only be described as a veritable profession of love, maybe I'll try and start some tonight. You know, to make it up to you. - Jennifer Bettancourt

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