An Actor’s Take: ‘Sister Act’ Rehearsal Journal

One of the cast members of Sister Act took some time to share their rehearsal journal (and some backstage secrets) with us. 

Meet your backstage guide, Terry Dopson

Terry is a Brea resident and he has been having a blast in his first Southgate Production. Terry DopsonHowever, Terry is no stranger to the Curtis Theatre as he has performed in over 10 productions at the Curtis. Most recently, he played The Company Man in Tales from the Canyon: The Olinda Story. Terry holds a BA in Music from the University of La Verne where he was heavily involved in choral music, barbershop singing, and musical theatre. Some of Terry’s favorite roles include Albert Peterson in Bye Bye Birdie, Antipholus of Syracuse in The Boys From Syracuse, and Fagin in Oliver!. In addition to his theatrical and musical pursuits, Terry works as the Coordinator of Finance Administration and University Business Travel at the University of La Verne.

Wednesday, February 7th

Tonight was our first dress rehearsal with all of the lighting, audio, projections, costumes, make-up, wigs, set pieces, and props.

Something that I have loved about working with Southgate is the high level of production value. All of the technical elements are visually stunning. However, it makes things very busy backstage.

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Above is our scene change chart for the show. If we are not performing on stage or changing costumes, then we are moving the set pieces. There is not much time to “hang out” backstage. Even if you have the luxury to “hang out” in between scenes, Jonathan Infante, our director, urged the cast to help everyone out as much as possible. He said, “If you have nothing to do, go over choreography with your cast members, help someone with a quick change, ask Stage Management if there is something you can do.”

Fortunately, I think that sentiment paid off. Tonight’s rehearsal went smoothly. However, we still have a few details that need to be polished. Southgate Productions has a reputation for putting on high-quality shows. Therefore, the hard work comes with the territory. We wouldn’t have it any other way.

Thursday, February 8th

Last night we were told that we would have a small audience for our invited dress rehearsal. However, it turned out we would have an audience of 70 people for our dress rehearsal. Everything became a lot more real after that announcement. Fortunately, it was an amazing run of the show. Having the audience gave us an extra boost of energy that we needed. 

I have to admit that backstage there was not much to report on. But for good reason; everyone in the cast and crew was really focused on doing their job. As I mentioned earlier, everyone has a lot of responsibilities on and off the stage. We like to chat and hang out while getting ready for the show. However, once places are called, everyone is “in the zone.” 

My favorite part about Sister Act is the energy of the show. It feels like one big dance party from start to finish, with some really tender and funny moments weaved throughout. I can’t help but have the biggest smile on my face.

Performing this show is a blast…and I think the audience is going to have a blast too!

Opening Weekend: Friday, February 9th – Sunday, February 11th

I consider myself a very lucky actor. I have performed in many shows and I have had many memorable experiences on stage. However, opening weekend of Sister Act was one of the best show weekends I have ever experienced.

On Friday night, all of the cast, crew, and creative team got together in the green room just a few minutes before places. The creative team gave a heartfelt thank you to everyone involved. I definitely felt the love and camaraderie in the room. Jonathan once again reminded everyone to make sure we do everything in our power to help one another.

 

It feels like one big dance party from start to finish, with some really tender and funny moments weaved throughout.

All of our shows this weekend were sold out and the audience was super responsive. Offstage we were buzzing with excitement because the audience was so engaged with the story. Not only did we love what we were doing, but also we got the message that we were doing it right.

The last 3 weeks of rehearsal went by in a flash. It is fulfilling to know that we put together a challenging show in a short amount of time. This would not have been possible if it were not for the level of professionalism that the cast, crew, creative team, and theater staff have exhibited. 

Thank you so much to the Curtis Theatre staff for letting me share my perspective on production week for Sister Act. If you attended our opening weekend, thank you so much for your support. We still have two more weekends of shows. “Boogie” on down to the Curtis Theatre before we sell out for the rest of the run!

 

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You can catch up with Terry and see what else he’s writing on his own blog.


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Sister Act: the Musical performs February 10-25, 2018. 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! 

An Actor’s Take: ‘Olinda’ Rehearsal Journal

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

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‘Olinda Story’ actor 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.

Rehearsal Journal:
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.

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‘Olinda Story’ actors working on music during rehearsal

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.

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Jennifer with her son & fellow actor, Owen

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

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Jennifer sneaks a photo from the wings of the cast blocking a scene.

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 wellFingers crossed for us!


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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!