A Remarkable Week
This was one of those magical weeks that make the challenges of this job all worthwhile.
It started with Sunday's final run-through of the show, where everything came together (as it always does), and I saw what a lovely piece of theatre my director, cast and crew had created. I went home truly excited to share the show with an audience.
On Monday, the first wave of reactions to our change in programming for Looking Over the President's Shoulder arrived, and I was deeply gratified (and relieved) to see that the response was overwhelmingly supportive. A few folks wanted refunds, but many folks wrote in with messages of encouragement, including this from subscriber Sarah Chamberlain:
"This is a creative solution to an unfortunate problem and we are very much looking forward to being at this staged reading. Vermont Stage is important enough to me and my husband that we will cut spending in another area in order to make a donation to you."
With support like that, I know we're going to be fine.
On Tuesday, we showed I Have Before Me a Remarkable Document Given To Me By a Young Lady From Rwanda to an audience for the first time at our final dress rehearsal. The actors were flawless and the modest audience of 30 or so folks was extremely appreciative. I knew we were ready for opening.
On Wednesday morning, we had over 90 reservations, enough for very nearly a full house, which is just what you hope for on opening night with the critics coming. We also had a major snowstorm on the way.
By 4 pm, we had 60 reservations, what with cancellations and exchanges. Still a perfectly respectable number in the intimate setting of FlynnSpace.
At 7 pm, the first snowblown audience members started to arrive. By 7:20, there were 16 people in the audience, and by curtain time we had a grand total of 22 intrepid souls, including the reviewer from the Free Press. These were not ideal conditions under which to open a show, especially with a critic in the audience - it usually takes a certain number of bodies to reach a critical mass and give the actors the energy they need to fuel their performance.
But the actors were unfazed. They gave lovely performances, the audience was warmly receptive, and given the circumstances it went as well as I could have hoped.
Actually, better. The next day, the Free Press called the production "one of Vermont Stage's best shows in year." I was thrilled.
Thursday night was sold out. As was Friday. So was the Saturday matinee. And the Saturday evening show. And at the Sunday matinee, people were asking for standing room tickets, which we gladly provided.
And at every performance, the audience response became more and more enthusiastic. More laughter. More tears. Standing ovations. It was as if people had heard this was a good show, and they came primed ready to fully engage, and they did. And on Sunday, the audience rose to their feet as one, and called the actors back for a second curtain call, and started cheering and whooping in a way I've never heard at a Vermont Stage show.
It was electrifying.
On Monday, I decided to do something we're never done before. I added a performance on the final Sunday evening. Enough people had told me that they were going to tell their friends about the show that I figured we would have a lot of demand by the end of the run. I would have added a full week, but since we rent from the Flynn and they keep the theatre pretty fully booked, we had to be out by Monday. So Sunday evening it is, at 6:00 pm. It's a wonderful way to end a fantastic experience.