Well, here we are. Two weeks left until “Funny Girl” opens, and my anxiety is intensifying. I lay awake at night, thinking, “What could I have done better?” Could I have analyzed my script, cover to cover? Probably. Could I have perfected my Yiddish accent? Not unlikely. Could I have hitch-hiked to Fanny Brice’s childhood home and lived there without modern appliances to get an authentic feel of life in 1914? Soft yes.
But in all seriousness, the show that had once been my fantasy is slowly becoming a reality. We have transitioned from rehearsing in the Blackbox theater to run-throughs on the main stage.
“Opening the door” is no longer a pantomime of twisting an invisible knob. “Sitting at the table” is no longer an act of pure imagination. Now, the only thing missing is an audience, an exuberant amount of hair products, and inevitable panic.
The panic comes in bouts-usually at random and often unfortunate times. I will be studying, minding my own cerebral business, when all of a sudden I remember-“two weeks.” I’ve found that it is very difficult to learn about Theodore Roosevelt while experiencing heart palpitations. Nervousness is not the only aspect of my hysteria -it’s a combination of fear, excitement, anxiety, and passion-basically the synopsis of Funny Girl. I am currently sitting in the “house” of the theater-which is just a fancy way of saying “audience”-watching my counterpart Lily do her run-through. We have the full orchestra now, which is pretty magical. Just having a real cornet playing in “Cornet Man” has already improved the show by about 40%. (I’m not really sure what the numerical value of a musical is.)
The added technical aspects have given the production a new kind of life- proving my theory that techies will one day rule the world. (Side note: we finally got our sweaters! They are soft and warm and wonderfully purple. I’ve been wearing mine for 32 hours straight. That is all.)
During the first run-through, my stress was definitely apparent. I was not only overwhelmed by the new technical elements, but I had just come to the realization that life doesn’t stop for musical theater. I am a junior, and if you have ever been through high school, you are currently feeling sorry for me. (I’m glad, because as an actor, I crave sympathy.) 11th grade is the most difficult year of high school (SATs, AP Classes, trying not to fall asleep in a Starbucks) and according to the rumors of other frantic 16-year-olds, colleges weigh your success during this year more carefully than any other in the K-12 spectrum.
In addition to the long hours onstage and extra practice at home, I also have to complete a huge research paper, study for various tests, and read Amy Poehler’s new book. (OK, the last one was optional.)
Despite my unreasonable anxiety, stress dreams about falling into the orchestra pit, and unprovoked shifts into my Fanny inflection, I am absolutely ecstatic about this upcoming performance, and honored to be playing such an iconic role. I will never forget this experience for as long as I live, and like Fanny, I won’t let a little bit of fear “rain on my parade.”