To be honest, the past year is a bit of a blur. It’s all flashes of blue fabric, Irish step dancing, and Seth’s hairdo. In order to make it all make sense, the three of us sat down together and reached out to the cast, crew, band, and design team of On the Eve to share some moments with us that we may have missed.
The process of taking On the Eve from the reading we did last November to this year’s full-scale production started in earnest in January of 2012. We convinced ourselves that with more than 10 months before the first rehearsal, it would be nothing but smooth sailing. It turns out, we’re not very bright. It’s not that things ever turned ugly, it’s just that we might have underestimated all of the little obstacles that can pop up no matter how much prep time you give yourself.
Midyear, we felt good enough about where we were with the show to all take on other projects. This proved to be a great way for us to step away for a while and gain some perspective on On the Eve. Seth rocked the mic in Pinkalicious at the Dallas Children’s Theater, Michael donned skinny jeans for Becky Shaw at Kitchen Dog, and Shawn started playing with Luna Matto. When we regrouped, we were just weeks away from starting On the Eve, and we still felt like everything was going as planned. Then, about a week before rehearsals kicked off, we had to recast a role, rethink our production schedule, and rewrite the climax of the play. This could easily have sent us (or at least Michael) into a hair-pulling, expletive-hurling descent into madness. However, everything was fine, because of the incredible group of people we were lucky enough to have involved with this show.
When we had our first shoot for press photos, the three of us kind of just stood around and looked at the director (Jeffrey Schmidt), cast, crew, musicians, and design team and wondered what kind deeds we must have done in a former life to get all of these people together for one project. Their talent was matched only by their insane level of commitment. Within a short time, all of the pre-rehearsal concerns just disappeared, and it became clear that this group could deal with anything that came their way.
During the rehearsal process, it was amazing to watch everyone take ownership of the show’s creation. “Collaboration” really doesn’t even cover it. People took on extra responsibilities, showed up when they weren’t called just to work or help out with props and costumes, battled injuries and flat tires, and provided insight into the script and the music that helped us reshape the play as we moved along. That’s not to say there weren’t moments when we all felt like things were utterly collapsing, but that’s the beauty of it, because those moments just seemed to bring everyone closer together.
There were two events during the course of the run that gave us a glimpse into how close this group had become. One night, the final balloon effect almost fell apart completely (sorry, Jeffrey), and without seemingly even acknowledging what was going on, the entire cast just kept singing and dancing while somehow making it all work out. In a way, it ended up being the best that moment had ever been. The other came during the closing party when people gathered under the balloon, danced and talked, and then without warning started to sing through the show (with some creative role switching going on). The show had become as much their creation as it was ours, and it was kind of beautiful to see.
Between the three of us, we have lived and worked in a number of cities including New York, Chicago, and Austin, and we all know there are some great theater/music towns out there, but as far as we’re concerned, the group of artists living and working in Dallas can’t be beat. We don’t know yet what’s up for 2013 (other than a trip to the tattoo parlor with some of the cast), but no matter what we do, we want to keep working with as many of the On the Eve team as we possibly can. 2012 truly was a life-changing year for us simply due to the people we got to work with every night at the theater.
◊ Michael Federico wrote the book for the rock musical On the Eve, which had music and lyrics by Shawn and Seth Magill (their band Home by Hovercraft also performed in the show; Shawn played keyboards and music directed; and Seth played the role of Chase Spacegrove). The show recently ended an acclaimed run at the Magnolia Lounge, in conjunction with Nouveau 47 Theatre. Look for it to be mentioned a few more times before the year is out. Here's our preview of the show.
◊ From now through the end of the year, look for essays from playwright and dramaturg Vicki Caroline Cheatwood, actor/dancer/choreographer Jeremy Dumont, Jonathan Fielding of Amphibian Stage Productions, director Michael Serrecchia and others. If you'd like to contribute an essay, email Mark Lowry at firstname.lastname@example.org. So far, the essays in the series are from:
- Raphael Parry, artistic director of Shakespeare Dallas and Project X: Theatre
- Actress Amber Nicole Guest, who had a breakout year at Lyric Stage
- Jerry Russell, founder of Stage West
- Katie Puder of Avant Chamber Ballet
- Jonathan Pell, Artistic Director of The Dallas Opera