We’ve got a few weeks of vocal rehearsals and dance rehearsals completed. Now it’s time to add in the acting (or blocking). Cast members walk through scenes, reading from their scripts, and try to find not only their voice, but the appropriate actions that should go with their lines.
Here is where our director Emily comes to the forefront. Although she’s responsible for directing the entire show, she is ably assisted by music director Nicola and choreographer Katrina. But Emily brings her own plans, thoughts, and wishes to the overall show. She’s clearly prepared in advance - from sketching out the set, to determining costumes, to researching the history of the play. It’s her vision that will be brought to life by the actors, musicians and crew.
The time spent on blocking is extremely important, as it’s key that the actors don’t accidentally upstage each other, speak over each other, enunciate clearly (while still using an Oklahoma accent) or even forget their cues. With up to 29 actors on the stage at once, it’s a carefully choreographed set of moves everyone needs to make, all while making sure the focus is on the people it should be. Every time that we do a scene, someone brings out one more little quirk, phrasing, or physical action that just adds to the play.
Each actor in the play has been tasked to think about their character. What brought them to Oklahoma? What kind of work do they do? What family or other relationships do they have with those on stage? How do they move? What do they think about other characters? All of these sorts of things and more go into determining the kind of character actors are portraying.
So spare a few moments to watch the background actors as well when you’re at the show. They’ve all been working on their characters to make them unique.