Back in the Saddle Again

Ann Michels, Ordway 8/8/16

Maybe a better title would have been “Back In Seattle Again!” Seattle is a fantastic city! Let’s just start there. What a treat to be able to spend the week here as we prepare to bring Paint Your Wagon to the Ordway. Having recently been here to watch the show during its 5th Avenue Theatre run I was totally jazzed to come back to the city, and even more jazzed to FINALLY, ACTUALLY work on this incredible show. It’s time for the rubber to hit the road!!!

After performing my very last Babette in Beauty and the Beast at Chanhassen Dinner Theatres on Sunday night (and being sent off in grand style by my cast mates), I was on a plane and flying west by 7:00am Monday morning. Thanks to the quasi time-travel mechanics of time zones, I arrived in Seattle by 9:30am, which gave me a whole day to settle into my new digs, get some fresh seafood in Pike’s Place Market, breathe in the fresh air of the Puget Sound, hike to the space needle, and get a hot shower before face-planting into my pillow for a good night’s sleep.

First Day of Rehearsal

All the hypotheticals in my mind as to how rehearsals were going to go-how it would feel to work with actual people rather than tripping and twirling around my living room and imagining everyone around me, would become realities. All of the excitement and anxiety about the unknown would transform to the work of being integrated into the show. It was all finally happening!

Rehearsals were held at ACT Theatre, a short walk from our hotel. It started with a truncated table read with director David Armstrong, and several of the principal players. We went over all the changes to the script since the 5th Avenue Theatre run and now (a total of 30 edited pages to the script!), paying special attention to the scenes that I’m in so they can hear my voice in the role, and I can hear theirs before we get up on our feet.

Next I walked a few blocks over to the 5th Avenue Theatre’s Costume Shop for a fitting. As soon as I was done, they’d be loaded up for shipment to Saint Paul! The costumes are beautiful and they did a fabulous job of making them fit just right!

Next I headed back to ACT for a short music rehearsal with the uber-talented actors Justin Gregory Lopez and Kirsten deLohr Helland, and conductor Kat Sherrell. It was held in a big open room with great acoustics and wall-to-wall windows with the sun shining through.

Last on the list for Monday was working on Cayla’s big dance number with all the men in “Whoop-ti-ay!” I was so very excited to finally meet Josh Rhodes, the brilliant choreographer for Paint Your Wagon – I mean, he’s INCREDIBLE. I can’t wait for you to see his work. Everyone was so friendly, accommodating, and supportive –both emotionally and physically as we worked through this exciting number. Almost every show I do I find myself upside-down at some point, and this show is no exception. All that gymnastics training growing up continues to pay off in this career (who’dathunkit?) These men are amazing, running and leaping and throwing me around all while singing gloriously at the same time. We made it through the whole dance in two hours and were free by 6pm. A group of us out-of-towners grabbed a nice dinner together to better get to know each other before BIG DAY TWO!

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