Yesterday was bump in, dress rehearsal, opening night, and closing night, all rolled into one. (And at a salary! Well... no, not quite.) Instead of having a week of preparation, we had twelve hours. The first sight we got of the theatre (other than seeing previous shows) was at 9AM, and then by about 11PM we were all done, finished, gone.
Bump in was fairly straightforward. We didn't have a huge amount of scenery, and everything was stored nearby (in Melbourne we use a trailer to get everything from scenery store to theatre, but here we just took it all by hand). The Festival Ruddigore (which I'm going to be seeing tonight) was in rehearsal in the Octagon, where we'd left all our gear; so we had to come barging in to collect things. I hope it wasn't too distracting to them!
Robert got a chance to do some work on the stage before the orchestra arrived; this mainly involved the men (sticky tape markers on the stage, and sort out the dragoon formations). Then we broke for lunch, after which the entire company gathered for the dress rehearsal. There is only one - one chance to sort everything out. It's the MD's only chance to arrange things with the orchestra, which is important - but it's also our only chance to run the show on the stage. There were a few things that couldn't be rendered perfectly, but there was a little bit of time after the orchestra call in which things like that could be sorted out.
And then, 7:30, we perform. Never before have I seen an audience so large at one of our shows... the theatre seats about 900 people, and it was full - even some standees, I'm told! The applause was tremendous, undoubtedly helping to lift the quality of the production. There were a few problems - a few lines that got muffed, some "phasing issues" in the double choruses (that's just a more polite way of saying the choruses got totally out of time with each other and with the orchestra), and such, but the energy and enthusiasm carried through.
At the end, after the curtain calls, the orchestra struck up Advance Australia Fair. Even some of our non-Australian guests joined in singing our national anthem - I noticed Rachel Middle singing enthusiastically, and afterward she mentioned to me that the (Australian) person standing next to her got the words wrong somewhere, but she - Rachel - had studied it and knew the words perfectly :)
The adjudicator (Gillian Humphreys) was astoundingly positive about the show. She admired the show - I may say she loved it. Too mild.... adored! All her comments are recorded on the DVD of the show. She gushed enthusiasm, commended us for one thing after another, and only had a few criticisms - she noted the timing/phasing problems, and such.
After packing up the show, we all repaired to the Festival Club for the cabaret. I wasn't greatly involved, partly as I was meeting friends (Graeblyn and Elei from Threshold), and partly because I was always busy during rehearsals, and couldn't skedaddle to rehearse the cabaret; so my involvement basically was a subordinate role of talking to the lighting people - there was one point where the lights had to come down for the beginning of a song, and up again part way through, so I cued that from the back of the audience. Oh, and there was one song all about chocolate, for which I supplied props - some empty chocolate wrappers... who'da thunk it!
All in all, a very full-on day - and fully repaid in audience enthusiasm. I've had a number of people today tell me how much they loved the show; several have said that they expect we'll win some sort of prize in the competition. I don't know if we will or not; really, though, it doesn't matter - the show stands or falls on its own merits, as reflected in the general applause of the audience, and when it comes down to it, the adjudicator is only one person. But it's still encouraging to hear a positive review :)