Well, without a doubt, last night was one of the most memorable, exciting nights in my life. I suppose that makes two in a row for me.
I arrived at the theater around 4:30 and was introduced to my new co-star: a beautiful, sleek “Moonlite Breezy Wheelchair”. (Their motto is apparently “Innovate: build for the future”. Well, innovation was certainly the name of the game last night. (Hey, I wonder if they need a spokesperson!! CALL ME!) The game plan when I arrived, was to have a member of the directing team push me through the show (thanks for volunteering, Tom!) But the moment I sat in the chair, I felt oddly at home and found that I was actually rather dexterous on the four wheels – and as a result, HUGELY relieved, because the idea of Rosina being DEPENDENT on someone to push her around was something I couldn’t wrap my head around.
I got 30 minutes on stage to feel my way around, try a few things out, observe the safety barrier the BRILLIANT ROH team installed at the front of the stage – presuming they preferred their lead singer not to also injure her spine!!! – and to devise a general game plan with the directing team of how to play the big moments, and how to adjust to the impossible. For example, under “normal” circumstances, when Rosina believes she has been betrayed, a storm wells up in her and she completely trashes the set. Well, at this point, it’s not only a matter of dramatic choice, but it’s a technical necessity for various bits of action that must happen, so we had to find a solution. Last night, Rosina called in Berta (the maid) and in a show of feminine unity, I “conducted” Berta through the trashing of the set! Innovation at work.
I can’t begin to describe how sorry I am for my “cast mates” to put them in the position of having to improvise on the spot like that, but I can only send out an enormous THANK YOU to each of them, for their support, for their sheer brilliance, and for their willingness to enter into the theatricality of it all. For me, I can only say that I had a ball. Is that insane? The odd thing about this, is that in a big way, being “trapped” in this wheelchair was a quite literal way of demonstrating Rosina’s frustration and HUGE desire to break free. I certainly felt it more last night than I ever have before, and think I found ways to still convey the character and to “act” the part.
As was my intention last night, I hope to continue to perform, but whether it’s vertical and on my feet or seated and on wheels remains to be seen – day by day is the current order of business. Again, I certainly don’t want to compromise the integrity of the show in any way, but I did feel that last night we still told the story and made beautiful music. As long as that continues, I’m game!!!
I’ll probably spend the rest of my life thanking people for their help through this – from the AMAZING fans and supporters, to all my friends and family, to the ridiculously brilliant Opera House Staff, to my manager who has gone WAY above and beyond the call of duty, but most of all to my (sigh) astoundingly wonderful husband. He’s got a million things going on himself in these days, and yet he is still treating me with the most delicate of satin gloves, supporting me beyond measure and continuing to make me laugh. Ah, see? It’s all good!