I Was Mr. Schuester

All photographs by (and appear courtesy of) Shaq Melamed.

Production meetings, auditions, table read, rehearsals, blocking, stumble-throughs, run-throughs, tech, dress, final dress, show, cast party, strike.

While the order may be tweaked a little (especially with music rehearsals and band rehearsals and the spitzprobe, which is German for ‘They’re not really gonna play this loud, right?!’), it’s odd how the rituals of a show are the same.  And then, just like that, it’s over.

For me, this was the summer of a lot of things–  the restaurant and the gym and the Mets falling out of contention as ever, but really it was the summer of meeting at the Garden Room at 6 pm to rehearse.  Of working our way through, of figuring out how to make moments work.  Of microwaving my nightly cup of tea on break, of taping down the stage, of helping to construct the risers that dominated the stage and papering them in sheet music, of the Mexican fundraiser and cast-bonding trips to see friend play in the city, or Inception;  of late-night tech rehearsals focusing lights and layering in the band–  stuff I hadn’t helped do in, well, years.  (And the eerie ritualistic aspect of theater–  especially of day-in, day-out rehearsals– as how you recall all the shows you’ve done past, as an actor or director or producer or stage manager or prop runner or whatever–  where they were, and who they were with.)

And of course how you bond with a cast so intensely– especially one this tremendous– and then, poof, strike, it’s over, everyone scatters their separate ways–  in this case, to colleges and the Island and schools and surely, some of us, to the real world.

It’s not all some nostalgic vision of Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland, ‘Hey,-let’s-put-on-a-show!’ showbiz, of course;  even at the last minute there are moments that you wished you had changed, or won the fight on, or even fought on;  artistic temperaments that flare up all too indulgently.  But for the most part, on a show that works (and I think, quibbles aside, scenes and moments and relationships work or don’t), it’s a good feeling that just ends.

I read something Neil LaBute wrote about theater just after September 11th;  something I’ve been trying to relocate and recall ever since then, but I’ll have to paraphrase:  “It’s ephemeral…  you leave with nothing but a few memories and a faded program.”  And that’s both why I love making it–  and don’t.

The title of this post is due to a close friend who got me into Glee while directing the musical, and oh what an apropos program it was to watch.  And as another friend remarked, “Well, if you’re gonna be Mr. Schuester, you’ve got the wardrobe.”

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2 Responses to “I Was Mr. Schuester”

  1. Rachel Crawford Says:

    Hey…what a way to spend the day…

    great show

    great pics

    great blogging….

    somehow I let myself get caught up in it all again in just one week…it never leaves you….

  2. Angie Says:

    Wish I could have been there to see it, I’m sure it was fantastic. How about a west coast tour? Also, while you may have Schuester’s hair, you should really be aspiring to Sue Sylvester.

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