Wednsday was line-run! For every show, we have a rehearsal where we sit in a circle and speed run the show with no scripts. Today was a success, which is always an important factor in the success of a show.This means that the whole cast is now off book. From here on out we can block and rehearse without holding binders. Scripts are a hassle to hold and prevent us from seeing how a scene is really going to look in the actual show.
-Riley
The last set-build for Flipping Channels took place on Saturday, and we made some really good progress! Although the sky was sunny, it was a very windy, and we decided to take full advantage of the spring and paint the office tables on the sidewalk. There are two tables that we built out of wood in the previous set-build, and we are painting them the color of natural wood to give them a finished look. The table top would be stained. Painting the tables outside on a windy day meant that the drop cloths were flailing around all the time. After two nice coats that dried very quickly thanks to the weather, we were able to finish the tables for The Office. Another group also built the hospital bed for Scrubs with the help from Dom, our technical director.

We are having a pre-line run tomorrow in the De Windt basement to check on everyone's progress on their lines. The show is a week and half a month away!!!

Drink water, get some sleep, and memorize those lines.

Yours truly,
Maggie



4/20
    Monday was mountain day! After a long day of hiking, eating, sleeping, or whatever else people do on mountain day, many of us came back to Allen Theater for our second set build. We spent much of the time sanding and constructing the tables for our set (sitcoms make use of many tables). While most of us left to eat dinner, a select few stayed to paint. While Tuesday was another, run of the mill basement rehearsal, today will mark our first day rehearsing in the Berkshire Hall Atrium. As the atrium is where we will be performing, this is a great opportunity for us to better understand how the show will be broken down and how we will utilize the set. It also showed us how much we need to project and send our voices across the room. We practiced projection and diction and how to make sure we can be heard. Having audiance in the round presents new oppertunities and with that comes new challenges. But as a team we are workig them out together and learning how to rise up.
-Riley
What are we up to?
                                                                               
After a couple weeks of rehearsals we figured you would want to know what we have been doing so far. The Atrium will be broken into four quadrants, one for each show. The stage managers have taped out two of these quadrants in our make-shift basement rehearsal space, one in a back room to allow for simultaneous rehearsals. Still on-book, we have been roughly blocking, trading off shows. To maximize efficiency, Mr. Howard and Annie worked over March Break to create the best system to block four TV shows at once. The result: an A cast and a B cast. As previously mentioned, there are four sitcoms involved in the spring play. Everyone in the show is part of two different sitcoms. For this to work, everyone in Scrubs, for example, is also in The Big Bang Theory. Those people are known as the B cast. The A cast is rehearsing their two shows at the same time. Rehearsals generally start off with meeting as a group and getting a briefing from Mr. Howard before starting our warm ups. Then we split off into our A and B casts with Mr. Howard and Annie switching back and forth. Every so often, to help remain as one team, we have show & tell. Essentially we set time aside for the A cast to show the B cast what they have been working on and vice-versa. May is coming up quickly!
-Riley
Set Build/Tech day
 
Last Saturday we had our first tech day! Half of us worked with Dom outside to do some spring cleaning at the shed. The other half worked with Annie on organizing the props closet.Halfway through we had bagels as a nice surprise treat after some hard work. After we had enjoyed our snack, all of us headed back outside to help finish what we had started in organizing the shed and had some good assembly lines going on to make quick work! In the end, we had a busy afternoon, but everyone’s participation and high spirits made the afternoon go by in a flash. Check back soon to hear from Riley about what we’ve been up to in rehearsal!
-Anna


SITCOMS!!!

Welcome to the Berkshire Theater blog! This spring, we are working on a show called Flipping Channels, which is a collection of classic American sitcoms featuring Friends, Scrubs, The Office, and The Big Bang Theory.

My name is Maggie Zhu, I will be writing for you throughout the production process. If you happen to recall, I am back to the theater from the winter musical, In the Heights, and ready to write more! I am playing Monica in Friends, and Julia, who is actually a female version of Oscar, in The Office. Flipping Channel is the first straight and the third production overall for me. I am very excited to get started again.  
I’m Anna Flaherty, and I’m also one of the writers for the blog this season! I was on blog crew last spring in The Crucible and I’m so excited to be back. I am playing Phoebe in Friends and Phyllis in The Office.
I’m Riley, this is my fourth show at Berkshire. I am playing Sheldon in Big Bang Theory and Todd in Scrubs.

As Berkshire Dance takes over the theater in the spring season, we have moved to a spacey basement near the student health center to rehearse. It is a new environment for us, but we still try to do everything in the same positive and inclusive way. The show itself will take place in Berkshire Hall atrium in mid-May, and we hope to see many of you there!

Best Regards,
Blog Crew.

Load-In-- It's Crunch Time

Today we finished up the Finale of In the Heights. With opening night exactly one week away, nothing else makes me feel more like the show is really happening! So far we have finished all the major dance numbers and blocking, with only a handful of small scenes left. Rehearsals have been very productive and exhausting at the same time recently. Mr. Howard broke the numbers into sections, for example, Carnaval del Barrio had 16 of them, and progressed through them in order and strung up a complete scene.

From 6 to 8 pm tonight, we started what is called "load-in", which consisted of setting up backstage, props, costumes, hanging up posters, taping chords, safety procedures, etc. One crew arranged the hair products and posters in Daniella's salon, while the other set up the merchandise in the bodega. Some people cleaned up the green room and organized all the costumes. Headshots printed out everyone's portraits that they have taken.

Dom Sayler, our technical director, is the low-key mastermind of the backstage. He directed everyone to do their assigned crew work and made sure everything ran smoothly. Meanwhile, Mr. Howard and the stage managers have been writing light cues for the production relentlessly.

The cast and crew had our first team dinner tonight: it was a quality bonding time for the ensemble to feel more like a close group and be show-ready.

Yours Truly, from on average 6 hours a day of theater,
Maggie

Dom Sayler

Load-in meeting

Team Dinner

Friday's rehearsal was special-- we did not do any blocking, choreography, or music, but it is probably the most important thing we’ve done, even more important than the musical itself.
With opening night less than three weeks away, we are quite excited and nervous and working really hard! Watching the documentary before rehersal Wednesday on the broadway production of “In the Heights” really got everyone pumped up for some fine theater. We got to see the real actors themselves, the places they came from, and their own life stories.  More important than the musical itself is the people who are a part of it. Today, we gathered around the “neighborhood” in the set and shared our life stories to each other, circling around race, ethnicity and cultural backgrounds. I sat down with Annie, our assistant director in front of the “neighborhood salon” and chatted with her. She told me she grew up in a circus, and lived in both New York City and Southern Connecticut. As for me, my life story is very different from hers because I grew up in China and think myself as a foreigner to the United States. It was interesting to shar about our culture and the differences and similarities to the show. However, both of us connect to “In the Heights” in such a way that we all come together through a great process of a Berkshire Theater production. At the end, we all sat in a circle to share our interesting stories-- important parts that our castmates may not know yet they construct who we are. It may seem like a surprise to some that a bunch of high school kids like us would take such a deeply personal activity seriously, but we not only did it, we also are infinitely grateful for the diversity we have and the impact we will have on the Berkshire community especially through this show.


Yours truly from Rosario's fire-escape,
Maggie





Inline image 3






¡Hola amigos!

We are less than month away from opening night! Today was a busy but fun rehearsal. We pieced together the music, blocking, and choreography for 96,000, a.k.a. Mr. Howard's favorite number in the show. 96,000 is the centerpiece in the first act: Usnavi from the bodega announces to the neighborhood that someone won a lottery ticket worth 96,000 dollars. The people all started fantasizing what they would do with that much money and started rapping, singing, and dancing in the neighborhood. As much as the music very upbeat, it contains a bittersweet layer of reality's heavy burden mixed with the faraway hopes and dreams. "I find it very hard to get through the song without crying," Someone said during rehearsal. The cast try very hard to portray the situation and feel what the characters and feeling, and put the music and the ideas into their body, in their expressions.

We also started to design hair and makeup for the show today! Liz Wheeler, a local makeup artist who has done many shows with Berkshire Theater, came to help. Each one of the actors were called in to try on foundations and discuss their characters. Annie and Liz made a customized makeup kit for everyone, which consists of foundation, lip colors, blush, a pencil and a sponge. 

Lastly, please take a sneak peak of the video of the first band rehearsal from last week!

Video credit: Rafael Arredondo.

Yours truly,
Maggie​

Dancing continues!


Tomorrow marks one month until opening and we are already working 24/7.  Organized rehearsals run from Monday-Saturday, but we also participate in a dance review each Sunday. While many of my friends are surprised that theater is so hardcore, I enjoy meeting on Sunday for the opportunity to review and get some exercise. 
Our dance Captain, Michelle, walked us through each of the dance numbers we have learned.  First we reviewed without music and in half-time, then we danced with increased speed, and finally we reviewed in full speed adding music.  
At this point we have learned dances for three out of six dance numbers. In my view the most thrilling and the most difficult of these numbers is “The Club Scene”- when the main characters spend a night out on the town. The dance is a mixture of hip-hop and Latin moves including jumping, spinning, sambaing, and a little merengue. Because there are many variations of the same moves, Sunday dance review is extremely important for cementing the steps so that we execute them properly on opening night. Besides Dance rehersals we also have music rehersals and lots of blocking rehersals. 


Hi theater-lovers, this is Maggie showing you a little sneak-peak of In the Heights! This Thursday was a set-build day: in addition to the basic platforms we built last time, we constructed more elaborate pieces that are specific to the show. One crew painted a giant load of foam bricks to decorate the backdrop, which featured a latte-brown shade that set the color tone for the neighborhood. The backdrop is made of big boards of wood, painted in the same color as the foam bricks. We used cutters to cut out the windows, which will all be found in the background. In the picture below, you can see a group of students working on a few pieces of planks painted white-- we were assembling the counter for Daniela's salon, which required some drilling and sanding of the surface. Along with the counter, the sign for the bodega was built and painted in bright blue, and a shelf for the bodega was also assembled. You can see in the second photo that most of the basic features of the neighborhood are already outlined. On the farthest stage right, you will find the Rosario's dispatch window. Immediately to the left is Abuela Claudia's stoop. The platforms in the middle are for singing and dancing, and to the left is Usnavi's bodega, from where everyone buys coffee and groceries. On the farthest stage left is Daniela's salon. The cast and crew are doing a great job, and the spirits are high. On Friday night, the band and the singers met for the first time to rehearse the music, and it is getting us all pumped up for the show in February!

Thanks,
Maggie



Dance Rehersal

"In The Heights” contains fast pace music and dance numbers to accompany
the intense scenes. Recently we have just started choreographing for the song “96,000”; a number in which most of the cast is on stage dancing to a rapid tempo with a very significant
message in the play. Nicole, our choreographer came in last week to teach us
choreography to this song is much faster than the songs we had been working on so far, so the cast was very focused and determined to execute the moves correctly.
As always,we started with our active warmup to prepare our muscles for the dancing. Nicole starts by showing us a brief combination then breaking down each step.Once every could
nail that, she will continue to add on.As one can imagine, as we start to connect more and more
combinations in a proper order, it becomes more difficult. However, this cast was productive and maintained a positive mind set to continue trying. By the end of the rehearsal we were able to execute the dance thanks to everyones encouragement and Nicole’s incredible patience and
skill. This week we will continue to learn the rest of the choreography for this song along with continuing to practice the moves to other dances.


Introducing Michelle-interview

Hey all! Andrea from the Bio's crew here:

Just wanted to share my interview of Michelle, an awesome new member to our group and this shows Dance captain!


This is Michelle…

What is your role in “In the Heights?”
I am a member of the ensemble and the dance captain.

Can you tell me about your role as the dance captain?
Basically, I observe when people have troubles with the movement and I help them when they have struggles. I am looking forward to holding individual rehearsals. Also, I have to memorize everyone’s choreography and when Nicole (Choreographer) isn’t present, I might have to come up with something on the spot.

Is this your first time doing a Berkshire Theater production?
Yep, my first time and it is pretty exciting.

What inspired you to join, especially this season being the musical?
In musicals, there are both dancing and singing, which I love. I have a lot of friends who do theater and encouraged me to try out. It is a good opportunity for me to get outside of my comfort zone because I have been doing dance forever.

What has it been like transitioning from dance to theater? Similarities/Differences?
It feels really different because theater, especially the musical, there are many people. I feel like I get to know more people. In addition, the warm-up from theater is very different from dance. I think the warm-up is really interesting and it gets me into the mindset for rehearsal; I feel prepared and ready to go--it’s fun. I am also learning new terminology some we made up like “blockeography” (a term we use for a rehearsal involving blocking and choreography) and more traditional terms such as “blocking” and how to write it on my script. (Including abbreviations for notating blocking for directions like upstage, downstage, ect.)

What has been a challenge in the process so far?
Combining singing and acting at the same time.


Intro to Bios


Hello everyone! This is Andrea, Ana, and Loso.
And we are the tech crew of Bio's!!!!!!

Our role in the production is to interview other members of the cast in order to give insight to the greater community and to add another element to the blog this show. In addition, closer to the production time, we ask the cast/crew questions about themselves and their experience in "In the Heights." The bios are then displayed in the lobby where the audience can read a biography of the cast/crew during intermission or at the end of the show.

Let us introduce ourselves:

Hi I'm Ana!  I'm a Junior here at Berkshire and I am playing Vanessa in In the Heights, (and more importantly, a member of the bios tech crew).  I'm so stoked to be spending the winter season in the theatre with so many cool people.  Come out and see the show in February!

My name is Andrea and I am a Junior. I will be playing Nina Rosario, daughter of Kevin & Camila Rosario, freshman at Stanford University. This is my 6th production in Berkshire Theater and I am thrilled to be a part of "In the Heights!" 

Hi my name is Losseni and I play an artist named Graffiti Pete in the play "In The Heights." I am really enjoying this experience of being in such a remarkable and important musical to many people. I think that this will be a great and new play to present to Berkshire community. I am confident that this cast will do an amazing job.

Stay tuned to more from us and from the great Blog crew!!

ITH Line-run


What’s My Line?

How good is your memory? Do remember all your passwords? Can you remember what you wore last week? If someone asked you to recall every item you bought during a recent trip to the grocery store, could you do it?

Now consider the brainpower involved in memorizing an entire script for a play, especially a musical — and retaining it for months.
Learning lines is a basic part of our job as actors in In the Heights, a job that is largely reserved for winter break. Over the two weeks of winter holiday each member of the cast took time to memorize lines, cues, lyrics,choreography, and blocking. 

Yet, experience and a number of tricks make memorizing lines much easier than it looks.  Here are some of the basic tricks I’ve learned….

1.    Cues are just as important as lines. For those that don’t know, a cue is the technical term for the line directly before yours. A lot of people make the mistake of thinking that actors only have to memorize their own lines, however without a cue it’s impossible to know when to say your lines. (It really doesn't matter much if you know your lines if you don't know when to say them.)

2.   It’s easier to memorize lyrics than lines. The structure of reciting lines to rhythm actually makes them easier to recite than if you freely memorize lines.

3.   Technology is your friend. There are so many ways that technology can help someone who needs to memorize lines. Over the break each member of the cast Skyped/Facetimed with a line buddy, the person who they’re in the most scenes with.  Many cast members chose to use extra technological help by using the recording apps pre-downloaded on most phones. It’s helpful because you can record all of your cues and then recite your lines as if you're practicing with someone else. (Dr. Wu and Dr. Davis also post recordings of the piano to the songs so we can learn our parts.)

In the end though, no matter what method you use to memorize your lines every member of the cast of  In the Heights is expected to have their parts down cold by the time we return to break.  

On the first day we return to rehearsal the whole cast gathers up on stage to run through the entire musical. There is a special type of pressure and self awareness that only this first line-run can provide. Not only is it the final test of your lines but is also a mildly menacing indicator that our show is coming together and won’t be long till we open house. The head stage manager says "Go" and we all go from beginning to end through the entire show, songs and all. 


Current countdown… 7 weeks!



Fortunately this line run went great! Lots more work to do to make the show ready but we are right where we should be. 


-Noah