Some theater companies and directors I've met have decided that the traditional read-through is a waste of time and have replaced it with more rehearsal. I have to say, I always miss it when it is skipped. Sure, I have the whole script and can read it at my leisure, but the truth is that I (like most actors, I suspect) tend to focus more on the parts of the script where I'm actually on-stage – you know, the good parts! Maybe I now and then I might gloss over the places when my character is off. So unless you are the lead and in every scene, read-through is the time when an actor gets a really good feel for the flow of the show, how scenes transition, the little gems of writing that will ultimately come out of someone else's mouth.
But more than just familiarity with the script, read-through is when we get a sense of how these scenes are going to sound coming from the actors who will actually be delivering the lines. Certainly things aren't yet polished – characters need fleshing out, readings and pacing will be tuned – all business for rehearsals yet to come. But at read-through we get to hear the raw materials which will become the finished product.
It's also the time when we get at least some idea of how good this show might be. After this first time through, we form a first-blush opinion about whether this show will be a bomb ("How did I manage to get myself cast in this show?") or “da bomb” ("How did I manage get myself cast in this show?"). That's important so we know whether we should raising or lowering expectations with our family and friends.
And finally, read-through is when we get an idea of who these other people really are – especially for New Line rookies like me. We get an idea how how accepting and supportive our fellow cast members will be, their quirks and their (sometimes amazing) talents.
So what did I learn from my first read-through last night? Here are some highlights:
- Lots of really good voices and strong actors...
- The atmosphere is relaxed and (so far) nobody is screaming -- unless it's in the script
- Don't sit next to Blanche – she screams (but it's in the script)
- Under some circumstances a box of Ho-Hos can be considered a cake
- Kimie says the most hilarious things – especially when she's not trying (what's a projection?)
- Some great chemistry developing between the main characters
- OK, “Made in America” needs some work...I better hit the music again.
- I hadn't realized how really sweet the ballads are
- The script is a lot funnier than I caught just reading it cold
- We're all anxious to find out how Mara's hair turns out
Overall, this has the makings of a strong show and I'm looking forward to watching it unfold!