This morning we said "bon voyage" to the River Falls community. This was a week of obstacles. We started off our time in River Falls by grabbing lunch with another tour team before they headed out to their own residency week. After checking into our hotel, we discovered that our reservation had been messed up, and we had to contact our sponsor to make other plans for later on in the week.
At Monday's auditions we found that we had a very talkative group. Monday's are usually a bit of a struggle for the kids because they have to wait to be cast, and some weeks it takes longer than others. This week took quite a while due to having to call them back to attention over and over again. We had one boy in particular that was very disruptive, and we were constantly quieting him down. We finally got everything squared away, but barely had time to teach them the prologue to the show. This is a first for us. Usually we get through the prologue, and sometimes even more. After rehearsal our sponsor informed us that the school district was holding a seminar the next day. Originally they were supposed to have it that Tuesday morning and be done by the time our rehearsals began; but she had just been informed that they would also need it from 2-5pm. This left us with the space for our first teach group. We left rehearsal wondering where we would be able to teach our other two teaches because all the other spaces were also going to be used for the seminar.
Tuesday we walked into the theatre to find that there was no way we were going to be able to use the space at all due to the equipment setup on stage. So, I started scouring the school, and with the help of one of our moms, we were able to snag a small gym floor for at least one of us to use. Joseph used that space to teach all of his kids the show, and I found some hallway space to teach my kids. The kids were better behaved, and with the exception of the rehearsal space issue, things were much better than the day before.
Wednesday is our tech rehearsal day. As the kids arrived our sponsor informed us that the man who would be running our tech wouldn't be at rehearsal today, but would be in for Thursday's rehearsal. This left us with using a boom box, and calling light cues to the kids. Although it was a struggle, we made it work. It was a small blessing in disguise because it gave us extra time to respace everything since it was the first rehearsal in the theatre for the kids.
Thursday our tech guy arrived thirty minutes into rehearsal, and we had to take some time to let him set something's up. Up until his arrival, Joseph had been up in the booth working the sound and lights, which meant he couldn't be on stage for part of his scenes. The kids did very well with keeping things moving and acting as if he was still on stage while I did his lines and sang his songs. Once we found our groove, the kids made it through the show. We took time to really work the trouble spots, and they really took the notes we had given and ran with them. They did so well with taking our notes, and corrections, that they had time to participate in the Double-Time-Over-Do-It run through. It was nice to end on a good note. After rehearsal, we had dinner with a patron of the arts. We enjoyed an evening full of good conversation and a lovely home cooked meal.
Friday we arrived at the theatre to find that our set and props had been moved around and there were now large rolling carts in our backstage area. We found new homes for the rolling carts, and set things right. When the kids arrived we got them all fitted for costumes. It was during this time that two of our boys had a bit of a spat, and one ended up punching the other in the eye. As Joseph handled the problem in the hall, I finished up costumes. We had our final dress rehearsal, and they did very well. We knew they would be giving a solid performance that night. We had a lot of parent and family volunteers help with makeup. Seven o'clock was show time, and just as anticipated, they were solid. After the show, we were invited to dinner with some of the board members. It was nice to learn a little more about them and the role they play in the arts for the community.
Saturday we kicked things off with checking out of our hotel. We headed over to the school for their final show, and they nailed it one more time. These kids had a lot of random obstacles thrown their way throughout the week, and they took it all in stride and just did what they were asked to do. I was very proud of how they handled this week. After loading up the van, we headed to our new hotel and got all checked in for the night. We celebrated the end of the week by heading to Hufson, WI, for a double feature night at the movies.
Although this was a very challenging, and frustrating week at times, we had some bright shining moments. Many parents and patrons who have been to numerous Prairie Fire shows, said that this was their favorite show they've seen. We got a lot of thank you's and hugs from our kids and their parents. Even the ones I had to constantly reprimand said they had a great time. Some memorable moments from this week were one of our little Cadets from Featherville coming up with the idea that he should fall down when the cadets mess up their salutes to the Turkey. Our Toucan was absolutely fantastic. She was sassy, and such fun to watch on stage. Our Owl, though only given one line to use over and over, was one of the most memorable roles this week. Every time one of the other birds pushed her out of the way, she sold it with a fall or stumble that we haven't found in other owls on tour. Our Horn of Plenty went crazy with his kazoo, chasing and charging at the ringmaster when he joins the carnival. We love when kids think of things that are completely different from any other week and that have never crossed our minds. This week we had quite a few of those moments. My favorite part of this week was meeting a little boy named Rhett who played our horn of plenty. Not only was this kid the cutest little seven year old you have ever met, and very well behaved; but he was named after a character from "Gone With the Wind." Now, for those unfamiliar, I am also named after a character from "Gone With the Wind." The excitement I felt was ridiculous. After meeting his mom, I asked if I could snag a picture with him to commemorate this moment. She gladly agreed. I've found my Rhett Butler in life, folks.
And so ends our most challenging week thus far. Now we head to Dodgeville, WI, for our final residency week. Come back next week to find out how my tour with Prairie Fire Children's Theatre will end.