Photo Credit: Eric Chad
This is, in part, a letter of apology to my friends, who must be wondering whether I still exist. The truth is a solid “kind-of”. As in I kind-of live in the theatre until the end of January.
Kiss of the Spider Woman: the musical journey that started when I auditioned in September, is now finally, actually opening.
The show was the 1993 Tony Award winner for Best Musical, and it’s being put on by the McGill Arts Undergraduate Theatre Society. Kiss of the Spider Woman is set in a Latin American prison, where Valentin, a Marxist revolutionary, is put in the same cell as Molina, a homosexual imprisoned for allegedly corrupting a minor. Molina escapes the real world of the jail cell by imagining movies starring his favourite actress, Aurora, who Molina loves in all roles except when she is the Spider Woman, whose kiss kills. The show is about how Molina and Valentin change the course of each other’s lives, leading towards the inevitability of the Spider Woman’s kiss.
My life since the beginning of January has centred around this show, as we’ve had 4-hour to 8-hour rehearsals every day, and we rapidly evolved from just rehearsing in our sweat pants in a fitness room to working in the beautiful Moyse Theatre, figuring out lighting cues, trying not to lean on (i.e., break) our mic packs, learning to put on mascara (I really just needed an excuse to learn…=P), discovering how short a time we have to change costumes between scenes, and tonight we are doing our press preview before we open for the public on Thursday!
All of that happened in the span of about two weeks, and I’ve had the privilege of getting a taste what it’s like to do musical theatre full time. And you know what? It’s exhausting. I get home every night and all I can mentally afford to do is sit and watch old Chinese tv dramas. I’m too energized from the show to sleep and too drained from it to do anything productive. And then I sleep later than normal so that I can wake up later so that by the time the show starts I can try to be in peak condition. I force myself to eat better and more regularly so that I hopefully time it right to have the perfect amount of energy for the show without taking in so many carbs that I feel bloated or sleepy during the show. Some of the cast is sick and we have to balance between putting our all into the rehearsals and holding back our voices to save it for the performances. I’ve been prioritizing sleep and exercise above all else so as to hold sickness at bay (and also to try to look the best I can!). On top of that, there are notes (i.e., feedback and changes about the show) every night, and every day there are new cues to remember and new scenes to tweak, and I constantly worry that I’ll forget something that we changed yesterday.
And let’s not forget the fact that the show is supposed to be extracurricular, as in in addition to school (and not instead of =P), of which I have a midterm for next Monday, in between the two sets of three shows that we do. There are nights when I freak out because I don’t know how I’m going to find the time to actually study for this exam.
All of that, though, just to say that I’m having the freaking time of my life and I wouldn’t have changed the experience for the world.
The cast is such a joy to work with, and we really rely on each other as a team. I’m inspired by them every day. The production team is absolutely ridiculous, and I cannot wait to talk to my friends who come to the show about whether they noticed some of the nuances of the set, the costuming, the lighting, the choreography, the music, and the direction that are absolutely beautiful, in my very biased opinion.
As I sit back to think about it, I cannot believe how fortunate I am to be able to be part of such a big and serious production, on top of being able to follow my dream of becoming a doctor. It gives me hope that I can balance both of my passions in the future as well. The craziness that is school is completely different from the intensity of doing a show, and I think I need both in my life.
The show is finally opening, and I’m so excited for people to see it, and to find out what you think! I’m so very proud of the work that we all did together, and I’m so very thankful for the personal emotional and mental journey that I took with the serious themes in this musical, as well as the fun and intellectual one that I took with my amazing colleagues.
So, as the beautiful Aurora sings in our show:
“There’s going to be good times…Nothing but good times…”
So don’t miss out!
P.S. Check out the clip below of a class presentation we did! We are prisoners who have been tortured for days, so Valentin tries to find his escape by thinking about his beloved Marta.