Posted by Liza Witmer, Company Management Intern
As I clutched my handful of opening night presents to my chest and watched our small lobby quickly fill to capacity with smiling faces, I couldn’t help grinning myself at the exciting situation for which I was privileged enough to be present. Yes, folks…opening night finally arrived for Edward Albee’s Occupant, our legacy (and final) production in Signature’s 2007-2008s Mee season.
Members of our staff rushed around, making sure everything looked beautiful and that everyone would feel welcome and comfortable. My fellow intern Louisa and I tracked down designers and other people affiliated with the show to congratulate them and give them their mighty cute gifts of Louise Nevelson note cards. It was simply amazing to see my fellow coworkers come together and produce the well-oiled machine that our opening night became.
Our audience was star studded to the max. A quick sweep of the house revealed the man-of-the-hour Edward Albee; Signature alumni Lois Smith, Dallas Roberts, Lanford Wilson, and Charles Mee; a few cast members from our upcoming production The First Breeze of Summer; and Louise Nevelson’s granddaughter Maria. We were able to start fairly close to the intended curtain time (well-oiled machine, I tell ya) and Jim Houghton gave a beautiful speech to thank all of our supporters and guests.
The show was, as always, both funny and moving. Both Mercedes Ruehl and Larry Bryggman were incredibly perceptive and masterful at their craft, as per usual, but carried with them a certain extra spark which pleased the audience greatly. As Louise Nevelson’s facsimile retold the highs and lows of her life, the audience reacted with heartfelt compassion and empathy. It was truly an incredible piece of theatre and I am so glad I was able to see it on this special occasion.
The performance was followed by a fun filled after-party at West Bank Café, just a few blocks from the theatre. When I walked in, pictures were being taken of the actors, director, playwright and everyone in between. I thought I’d stumbled upon an unseen red carpet! Everyone was rewarded for their hard work with some serious R & R in the form good food, good drinks and good company. My personal favorites were the little chocolate mousse cake cubes for dessert!
I looked around the restaurant and realized what an amazing family I’ve recently joined. Signature has not only made me feel at home in my brand new internship but also produced such a glorious work of art that brought everyone together in a triumphant opening night celebration!