And so it begins

The first rehearsal for Cinderella was last night. It was just like I remember from last year. We sat on rows of chairs in the theatre’s dance studio. The artistic director gave an orientation speech, the stage manager reviewed the rules and guidelines for cast members, we all filled out contact information forms and got our scripts (just sheet music for us ensemble members), and then the music director took over and began rehearsing the pieces we’ll be singing in the show.
As I said, it was just like 2002 — but at the same time, it couldn’t be more different. At last year’s first rehearsal, the entire experience was new and strange, and I had no idea what to expect. I had never been in a Raleigh Little Theatre play (or a play at any community theatre) before, while most of the people sitting around me were experienced actors. If we were rehearsing any other play, I could have at least taken comfort in the fact that the play itself was new to virtually everyone, and we would all be learning it together. But RLT has been staging Cinderella for two decades, so many people in the cast had done it before — and some people had been in it a dozen times or more! This show had twenty years of accumulated history and traditions, and I didn’t know any of it. So that first rehearsal was nerve-wracking. I wasn’t the only first-timer, and everyone was really nice and patient about it, but I was still painfully aware of how much I didn’t know.
Now it’s a year later, and this is familiar territory. This time last year I was struggling to learn the music — but now I know the songs already, and people were listening to me to learn them. Many of the cast members are people I already know, either from last year’s Cinderella or from other shows I’ve worked on at RLT. (In fact, one of the actresses and I know each other because she’s in Schoolhouse Rock Live, and the evening before I had been shining a spotlight on her.) I even know a lot of the Cinderella history and tradition, because I spent hundreds of hours with last year’s cast, and I listened eagerly to their war stories.
I’m a Cinderella veteran. It’s a strange feeling. But a good one.

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