Auditions for THE VERONA PROJECT occurred sometime in February. Then the callback list came out. And then callbacks actually took place about a month later—a whole month during which I could stress out practicing guitar (or stress out because I was watching Friends instead of practicing the guitar).
Callbacks happened. The cast list came out. And then: the real wait. This past summer I stayed in Evanston and worked at a restaurant almost every day for hours upon hours… upon hours. I didn’t think it was possible for a human to eat so many tacos and not die of overexposure to Mexican food before I worked there. (It’s actually a great restaurant. It’s called Taco Diablo. I work Monday lunches. Stop by.)
ANYWAY. I was bored. I was doing nothing even remotely artistic, and I was getting antsy for rehearsals to start, but September seemed impossibly far away. So when I got the first email about the Broadway In Chicago Summer Concert I was so excited! The concert was coming up. two weeks away, and I couldn’t wait.
Our rehearsal took place the night before the concert via Skype with Amanda Dehnert, the writer and director of THE VERONA PROJECT. Our second, and final, rehearsal took place the next morning before the concert. Not the most extensive preparation, but we were all pumped and full of good energy before the concert. And it was SO much fun. Backstage we got to meet a lot of really nice, talented people who represented shows as diverse as WAR HORSEand KINKY BOOTS. Side-note: I’m obsessed with WAR HORSE, and especially the puppetry (in a pretty embarrassingly nerdy way), and I got to meet Joey, the main horse, so yeah, that would have been enough for me. I might have teared up a bit. But then the actual performance was awesome - just awe-some. I generally get really, really nervous for those kinds of gigs, but for some reason I felt totally calm as I walked on stage in front of over 20,000 people. Ok, to be fair, I wasn’t charged with belting out a billion high Fs or whatever amazing thing it was that Lillie did, but still. We sang. We danced a little bit. We conquered? Yeah, we conquered.
And then the wait resumed. But finally, rehearsals started—and by started, I mean we jumped into rehearsals 6 days a week for 8 hours each day. Really, my whole life for about a month was band rehearsals, and it was SO FUN. But we had a couple gigs to break up the days and days spent in the Louis theatre—12 or so people, about 25 instruments.
First, we were invited to perform a set on Deering Field on the Northwestern campus as part of a festival to welcome incoming freshmen called Deering Days. It was our first experience playing to a crowd of strangers since starting rehearsals. And it went really well! More than anything, it was a great way of reminding us that we’re creating something to share with people. It’s easy for me to forget that we’re not just working and reworking the music for ourselves and Amanda sometimes.
The next gig was a smaller affair, for residents of Evanston—we performed a couple songs for Backstage Evanston in the Barber Theater, but it was a also a great experience because any practice in front of a crowd is good practice. Seriously, it really is so different jamming out in front of people than being in the on the Louis stage by ourselves.
Now we’re about to enter our final weekend of performances. THE VERONA PROJECT truly is something beautiful, and we’ve all worked really, really hard on it. Because it’s a new work and we’ve been lucky enough to not only be rehearsing but also creating it, there’s a special kind of joy and love in the room. And I think audiences will feel that when they see it. So get your tickets for our last weekend!