After I saw the last Women in Theatre production in Jerusalem, Our Town, I said to my friend Ninoska,
Next time you are putting on a production, let me come and take a sneak peek behind the scenes. I want to get a feel for how much work is going into turning out shows this polished.
So last week, she called me up and gave me the address of a synagogue hall in Modiin, where the Women in Theatre actors would be meeting for the first full run-through of their latest offering, called Stages. According to the playbill:
“STAGES explores the relationship of three lifelong friends – Melanie (RED), Nina (BLUE), and Sandy (BEIGE). In every stage of these characters’ lives, the relationships strengthen and are challenged, but ultimately, love prevails.
“There are 6 different actresses who play each of the friends (18 in total) – one for each stage of their lives. The Stages are: Child, Teen, College, Young Adult, Adult and Mature Adult. “
With a cast approaching 60 people, I was told that Stages is the biggest production Women in Theatre have done to date.
And there are so many more people working behind the scenes. I sat next to someone who has literally been spending hours a day painstakingly painting the scenery. “I have bruises on my hips from lying on the floor, painting things,” she told me.
Someone else has been scouring the thrift shops for weeks, trying to find the right outfits to tell the stories of these three friends in red, blue and beige.
And yet another person had a sheaf of papers an inch thick, which contained all the instructions for what prop was required where, and when.
Ooo, this is some serious work, I thought to myself, as I settled into my chair, to watch as the cast began to practice some of their numbers.
As Stages tells its story via song, and with virtually no dialogue, the music is key to the show hanging together.
So it was, Miri the person responsible for the music, rehearsed some of the numbers three times over, with the full cast and band, until every syncopated beat had been properly noted and set in its right place.
Oooo, there is really some serious work going into this, I thought again.
And the real rehearsal hadn’t even really begun yet.
Suddenly, the makeshift ‘stage’ was full of performers ranging from 8 years all the way up, as Pnina the director went around gently moving people into the right place, telling others to keep their eyes open when they sang, and picking up on a whole bunch of other minute details that would never have even crossed my radar.
When you go to see these shows, and you can actually see every member of the ensemble as they’re singing, or sitting on their chairs, or standing on a platform, it doesn’t even cross your mind that that was a detail that had to be choreographed, arranged, and carefully practiced.
Wow, there is a lot of really serious work going into this production.
There’s a Talmudic saying that someone who reviews their learning 101 times can’t even begin to be compared to someone who reviews their learning just 100 times, and the glimpse I got into the preparation that’s going into Stages really brought that to mind.
When Women in Theatre got started 11 years ago, they had a vision to create a company that would enable so many of the talented women out there perform for other women.
If that’s all they managed, dayenu. I’ve heard stories of so many women who were thrilled to have found a kosher avenue for their need for creative self-expression via the Women in Theatre productions. But the truly amazing thing, at least for me, is just how professional the WIT shows really are. The actors are line perfect, the props are professionally put together, and all their shows just have that ‘zing’ that you usually only find on Broadway.
Women in Theatre have managed to bring some of the magic of Broadway productions to Jerusalem, Modiin and Ranaana, and it looks like Stages is set to be another entertaining and uplifting [something in the something].
But let me tell you: it doesn’t come easy, but with hours and hours and hours of rehearsal, careful attention to detail, and a commitment to not just put out any old show, but the very best performance possible.
- To book tickets for Stages, showing in Jerusalem on March 14th, 2019, Modiin on March 17th, 2019, and Ranaana on March 7th, 2019, please visit the Women in Theatre website at: https://www.womenintheater.com/.