Hello from Bigfork, everyone!
I can’t believe it’s already August — it seems that summer has just started here! We have kept up such a busy pace of rehearsals, performances, and workshops that we are just now starting to have some free days on our hands, and we are relishing every moment in this beautiful place.
After feverishly rehearsing for seven straight weeks, we successfully opened four fantastic productions that are currently playing to full houses and frequent standing-room only audiences. The reception within the community has been incredibly warm and enthusiastic, and the company has been wonderfully cohesive and supportive of one another. This tight family bond has made all four shows true ensemble pieces that are joys to perform every night.
It’s hard to recap everything that has happened thus far, so I will dedicate these first few blog posts to brief summaries of each production process and devote the next few to some highlights of Montana fun:
MAN OF LAMANCHA
The season kicked off strongly with the classic Man of LaMancha helmed by dynamic collaborators Matthew Wolfe and Jessica Low and meticulously music directed by the amazing Ian LeRoy. The preliminary scenework and character analysis of Mancha provided a strong foundation for our unification as an ensemble that has carried through the entire season. The same goes for the vocal groundwork established early on, which focused on finding a balance and a blend of our very different voices. My appreciation for the guidance of the Mancha creative team has continued to grow as I realize how much their initial work has served the company throughout the season and the other shows.
The staging of this particular production requires us all to be onstage for virtually the entire show, watching and engaging with the action as it unfolds in front of the audience. It is a physical and emotional marathon of a show, usually ending with a lot of tears that will be especially poignant come closing night. I begin the show as a prisoner and emerge as Don Quixote’s niece, Antonia, for a scene in each act. Antonia has been a challenging character to play, as she is often perceived as a fairly one-dimensional, self-serving individual primarily concerned for her own interests instead of her uncle’s well-being. While that is true to an extent, I have based her actions in an initial place of sincerity and genuine love for her family, but those feelings are ultimately overshadowed by her concerns about public perception and its effects upon her future. It has been a highly focused process of discerning those beats and shifts in intent throughout the story, and I continue to enjoy exploring new moments onstage with my fellow company members.
Man of LaMancha, a sometimes forgotten classic, retains its powerful message through a hauntingly beautiful score and several gems of inspiration peppered throughout its script. In an increasingly chaotic world where events seem increasingly out of our control, and we must forge our own unique paths to achieve our definitions of personal happiness, dreaming the impossible dream has never seemed more appropriate:
When life itself seems lunatic, who knows where madness lies? Too much sanity may be madness. To seek treasure where there is only trash. Perhaps to be practical is madness. And maddest of all, to see life as it is and not as it ought to be. (Don Quixote, Man of LaMancha)
This show has reawakened my capacity to dream. And, as a certain wise person relayed to us on opening night, to give, to love, and to play. My gratitude for these heartfelt reminders is eternal, and I cherish the journey that this show has provided every night. It is a journey I feel we have only just begun, and I can’t wait to see where the future leads.