Wednesday, January 23, 2008


Originally Posted by Siobhan Lockhart, Artisitic Intern, November 22, 2007

Actress Heather McComb, Actor James Van Der Beek and Signature Founding Artistic Director James Houghton

This past Sunday, November 18, Signature Theatre Company celebrated (what is to become a regular ritual for all Signature productions) its second Alumni Night. The centerpiece of course was that evening's performance of Charles Mee's Queens Boulevard (the musical).

I arrived at the theater about an hour before the show, prepared for an exciting evening with so many past Signature playwrights, directors, actors, designers, technicians, and staff attending--but I really had no idea what a party it would become. With an ideal vantage point from the beginning, sitting behind a table near the entrance of the theater with Marianne (the company management intern), we tried (mostly in vain) to get all of the alums to fill out name tags. We were soon aware that it would be a near impossible task to get people over to our table when everywhere you turned everyone arriving wanted to greet, hug, and catch up with everyone else. Former Signature staff and interns sought out their old colleagues and I immediately noticed past Playwright-in-Residence, Bill Irwin. A large contingency from the cast of Charles Mee's Iphigenia 2.0 all seemed delighted to come and cheer on the current group of actors taking the stage that the Iphigenia 2.0 cast had most recently vacated.

There was a definite eagerness and anticipation in the crowd gathering. Sensing that it could be a special performance night I decided to go watch the show, promising Sara, the artistic assistant, that I would return to help the staff during the post-show cocktail party. I had sat in on some rehearsals and seen the first preview, but I was keen to see the show in front of a crowd that was shaping up to be quite lively and receptive. (Personally, I think I made the right choice!)

The energy of the show was fantastic. Living up to the previous Alumni Night crowd (described in Sara's blog), it was one of the warmest, most enthusiastic audiences of a show I have ever seen. It reminded me of doing shows in high school - not, mind you, in quality - it just felt like everyone there was rooting for their "classmates" on stage. And it certainly rubbed off on the cast who could not have seemed more into the show. So much so that when they were tested with some prop malfunctions and even a smoke alarm that briefly stopped the show, their comedic ad-libbing skills proved to be at their sharpest and most playful.

It was an exhilarating performance, but the fun wasn't going to end there. After Jim Houghton, Founding Artistic Director's welcoming remarks the cocktail party began. Congratulations to Sara for putting together a wonderful spread of food. The festivities went on into the night, Queens Boulevard (the musical) cast, creative team, and production staff now mingling amongst the crowd of alumni and staff. People did not seem to want to leave, but eventually we did run out of booze and food, and well, it was a Sunday. But overall, a successful night, a wonderful performance, and an event that will secure "Signature Alumni Night" its place -for shows and years to come-as the party not to be missed.

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