Day 37 - Opening Night
It was a lovely day for a hurricane. The theater director called me at 10:00 am to ask me to cancel the show. The night before, the New York Times had sent a photographer to shoot the dress rehearsal, and Jack Anderson was coming tonight. I couldn’t take the risk he couldn’t re-schedule. At Jeff’s suggestion, I called New York City Opera to see what they were doing and they were going ahead with performances, so I felt I could also. Elizabeth Zimmer of the Voice had called and left a message saying that if there were a way to get there, she would be there. The dancer that concerned me most was Morgan, as she lived an hour away in New Jersey. After a rumor that the subways were shutting down was dispelled, I was able to make the decision that we would definitely go. Jeff left Westchester at 12:00 for a 3:00 call and I called the dancers and told them to leave now and left a message on the Dance as Ever voicemail that there would be a performance tonight.
At 1:00 p.m., when I left for the theater, there were no problems with the subways. I arrived at the theater without almost any delay (nor almost any rain) and ran to the supermarket to buy ice for the dancers, and some extra yogurt, bread and bananas for myself and anyone else who couldn’t get out of the theater to eat. Everyone arrives in time for the spacing rehearsal, except Morgan, but there is a garbled message on my machine that she is in the city. Working around her absence, we walk through Aubade first and then Horizon. By this time, a box office attendant tells me that a female dancer had called saying something about a fire in the subway and “her nerves sounded pretty frayed.” That’s my Morgan. I gave the attendant a message to tell Morgan to get into a cab and I would pay for it, and I continued with rehearsal.
Morgan arrived about 30 minutes later, and a cab had been unnecessary, the transformer fire at Times Square had been cleared. Abraham had visited an acupuncturist (at my expense) and was able to dance, but with his lower back taped (visible in the Armature costume, but not distracting.) and certain lifts we felt might be too jarring or dangerous were changed to promenades or other non-weight bearing steps. We walked through all the ballet and we all ran upstairs to change; the dancers into their costume and I changed into a sport jacket and pants. I would have worn a suit for opening night, but I felt it was inhospitable to look that formally and carefully dressed when the audience had to brave a hurricane and would be feeling wet and bedraggled.
A crowd of about 20 people wound up seeing the opening night performance, mostly press, hardy friends and one or two stalwart audience members who had reserved or purchased tickets in advance. I made a speech before the curtain to thank them for their fortitude, and we began.
Scherzo looked marvelous. Matt had blown in about 5 p.m. and hurriedly added extra wood and gold trim dripping off the frames to bring the backdrop to the proper amplitude. As is his nature, it was finished at the very last minute, but it was also very effective. The dancers looked wonderful in the ballet, David had brought in their costumes yesterday, but he also had obviously been working overnight, they had all been secured and hemmed and fitted so they flattered each dancer. This night’s run may have been the ballet’s best. Aubade also went well, and the audience clapped loudly enough to seem like a real crowd. There was a certain festive intimacy to the occasion; press, friends and audience members all braved the storm together.
Armature was more nerve wracking. It was danced well, but Jeff had never called the ballet from the stage right wing, rather he called cues for the lighting and sound operators from out in the audience on dress rehearsal. Armature, with its silences and erasures in the sound track, and similar and repeated steps was treacherous from a technical standpoint. There were some miscalls of sound and light, but the ballet was fragmented enough in structure that such things, unnerving as they were to the dancers, Jeff and myself, would not be taken as abnormal by the audience.
Horizon also had an unintended silence in it, but was danced solidly by the cast. After calming down a frayed nerve or so (and occasionally putting my foot down, telling one dancer that there was a rehearsal tomorrow and she would be there) we plan to use the scheduled rehearsal time for tomorrow to go over the cues in Armature. It’s been a soggy, long day, but we opened, and all told, did a good performance. There may have been 20 people in the house, but among them were the New York Times, the Village Voice and WQXR. And the show went on.