WHEN LIFE GIVES YOU LEMONS...
Updated: Aug 10, 2019
"...Make Lemonade." I was approached by Jaye Jackson in the summer of 2018. The two of us attended a Musical Theater Intensive summer camp at Kent State University, in conjunction with the Porthouse Theatre in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio. I expressed my love for the production aspect of theatre with the class and how I wanted to support shows with heavy messages. Jaye, in the crowd, heard this and proposed to me the idea. Lemonade.
After a long submission process and many production meetings, the show began. Rehearsals were by no means slow. 6 p.m.- 10 p.m. every weeknight for 5 weeks. We got right into it, choreographing from the beginning of the show. We danced for hours, only stopping for mandatory breaks and to talk over things. With Stage Manager, Zach Sentney, we had a semi-smooth run, with a few blunders for confusion and miscommunication.
Rehearsals normally began with a warm-up or centering exercise, and would then move straight into dance. Jaye would demonstrate or teach a set of moves and the group would replicate. We would stop for spacing purposes and Zach and I would write down the staging and blocking. I also worked closely with the set, lighting, costume, and other designers. We would often have a visit from at least one of the designers every rehearsal. After dancing for about two hours, with breaks in between, we'd break off and sit down to talk about the show. We wanted to talk about the mood and story we were trying to portray through our dance and musical performance.
After a long tech week, where I helped hang and focus lights, it was time for the show. I put on a headset and took up position backstage left. This gave me the ability to be in the wing to move set pieces and converse with Zach, Alary (The Master Electrician) and Tiffany (The Sound Operator) in the tech booth, while also being able to help with quick changes and costume distribution. It was very much gorilla theater, but in a more clean, collected manor. Though I was unable to watch the show, I could hear everything. The tech booth were my eyes and ears. If anything were to go wrong on stage at any time, it would be my job to fix it quickly and cleanly. Luckily, the only mishap that happened in the show at all was a slight costume malfunction with a wedding dress that was easily hidden by the long hair in the main actor's (Jaye's) wig.
The story was one that grabbed my attention immediately. Lemonade: The Visual Album, by Béyonce, is a beautiful story about love, betrayal, revenge, pride, forgiveness, and once again, love. There were a few elements that we wanted to portray through more than just words. In the beginning of the show, we learn that our main character has been cheated on by their significant other. This is shattering and disgusting and so the theme was a dark green with lots of shadows to feel the condescending nature. Another one of my favorite
moments was in the song "Ring The Alarm", where our main character is vowing to get revenge for what had happened and so the whole stage was lit red with quick, almost stabbing dance moves to replicate the attack. We ensured that no faces could be seen because the anger is too much to even express. Finally, in the climax of the show, there is a scene where Jaye is in a wedding dress. After forgiving her significant other, they essentially have a remarriage. This calls for having a brighter light with flower pedals falling around and much more fluid movement in the danacers, close to calming waves in the ocean.
We really tried our best to pass our message along. With the show, we sold a total of 250 tickets for a theatre that only holds 120 people. We oversold the show 200%. This was an amazing feat to be achieved by a freshman, and one of my proudest. Being that this was the first show I have ever AD'd for, it was beyond amazing. We sold the most tickets of any show in the blackbox for the fall semester. We hope to be submitted for student theatre fest in the spring and were even invited to perform at a drag competition during the run. We were one of three acts and set up an amazing dance display that was enjoyed by almost 1000 people.