Last week, one of our actors from The Olinda Story took some time to share her rehearsal journal with us.
Meet your backstage guide, Jennifer Siglin
Jennifer is a proud Brea resident and is excited to be appearing in The Olinda Story alongside her son, Owen. She has appeared in several local area productions including multiple productions of It’s a Wonderful Life, a Live Radio Play and The Twilight Zone, plus the premiere of Fledgling, a new play by local writer Colleen McCandless, all at STAGESTheatre in Fullerton; as well as War of the Worlds and Bye Bye Birdie here at the Curtis Theatre. She is the proud mother of three children (all of whom have been bitten by the acting bug). In her day job, Jennifer is a graphic designer at Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa. She is also a calligrapher and sometime artist; you can see her work on instagram as @laughingbeagle.
Monday, October 16
We spent the first half of tonight’s rehearsal working through the second of our two choral music selections for the show, a brief cut of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.” I think most of us in the show are not trained musicians, though a handful of us (myself included) can read music. Even so, the level of dedication that these awesome fellow actors are showing to this, to stepping outside their comfort level to try and learn harmonies together, is impressive. I’ve never been super comfortable singing in front of other people (though goodness knows I sing enough in my car and in my house to more than make up for this deficiency), but already this group of people feels like a welcoming, supportive family—I don’t think anyone feels like they’re being judged, and everyone is just incredibly supportive of one another. There’s a lot of joy and laughter here, and I think our music director, Anthony, can see the potential in us. We’re going to get this, I just know it, and it’s going to sound awesome.
Or, if not, as Anthony tells us, if we’re going to fail, fail spectacularly. In other words, own it.
The second half of rehearsal was blocking a few final scenes in act two. As a minor ensemble actor, I don’t have many lines in this production, but I still get to do some other fun things onstage throughout the show, and tonight was no different. The thing that strikes me the most is how much fun we all seem to be having. In particular, I think what’s most exciting about this show is that we have so many actors of so many age groups—the young kids are bright-eyed and eager to learn (and quite professional little actors, to boot!), and there’s a really nice sense of camaraderie building here, among everyone, even though we perhaps still don’t know each other ALL that well yet. That’s the beauty of spending time together putting on a production like this; in a very short space of time it begins to feel like its own little community… kind of how I imagine those original inhabitants of the tiny town of Olinda must have felt. Already it feels like we are all rooting for each other.
Tuesday, October 17
Tonight we did our first full run-through of Act 2. It’s fun to see this piece coming together as we go along. Because until now we’ve been blocking scenes sporadically and out of sequence, it’s been difficult to wrap my head around the order of things. Seeing the second act come together this evening was a bit like watching the dust settle. The pieces are in place; now it’s about finessing them.
This is the first time I’ve performed on stage with my son, Owen, and I have to say it’s so much fun to watch him play his parts with gusto and enthusiasm. As for myself, having been bitten by the acting bug fairly late in life, I love watching Owen and all these other young people do their thing with such an amazing amount of confidence—something I certainly didn’t have at their age!
Wednesday, October 18
Tonight was our first full run-through of the entire show! There are so many different scenes in this play, with such a large number of actors, that up until now we’ve been working with smaller groups of people in their individual scenes. It was fun to see the entire thing come together, even with the hiccups one expects from a full run-through. And since this was the first time we’ve run the entire show in order, we extras were all in the wings scanning the scenes to figure out when and where we need to position ourselves for our next scene. It’s a kind of beautiful, chaotic mess (if I’m allowed to use that term for a show that I have no doubt is going to be fantastic when all is said and done), and it seems like everyone is having a lot of fun.
Jesse, our director, is wonderfully fluid and willing to let us as actors make choices about our characters and our placement onstage and try things out.
I will say, our first go at singing the two songs onstage—cold, with no accompaniment or pitch pipe to start us off— was rough. Good thing tomorrow night is music night!
That’s the beauty of spending time together putting on a production like this; in a very short space of time it begins to feel like its own little community… kind of how I imagine those original inhabitants of the tiny town of Olinda must have felt.
Thursday, October 19
Music night. While Jesse worked with a couple of actors onstage for a particular scene, the rest of us spent the first hour or so of rehearsal in the theater lobby standing around an old upright piano under the gently guiding hands of Anthony, our fearless music director. He seems to have the patience of a saint, as there’s lots of chatter and singing from each of the different music sections as we work with each other on our harmonies and parts. Our first song onstage will have a guitar accompaniment, and we worked the song that way, and it’s starting to come together well. Fingers crossed for us!
Tales from the Canyon: The Olinda Story performs Nov 3-12, 2017. Fridays & Saturdays at 8PM, Sundays at 3PM. Tickets are on sale now. Visit our website or call the Box Office at 714-990-7722 Tues-Fri 12PM-3PM. Have questions? Contact us!