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Behind-the-Scenes at Unusual Acts of Devotion Rehearsals - La Jolla Playhouse Blog

Behind-the-Scenes at Unusual Acts of Devotion Rehearsals

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Playwright Terrence McNally and Production Stage Manager Kelly Glasow review script changes made during rehearsal.

Playwright Terrence McNally and Production Stage Manager Kelly Glasow review script changes made during rehearsal.

It’s a week later and Doris Roberts arrived today.  Finally, we are a full company!

We had a meet and greet with bagels (yes, New York bagels) and coffee. Michael Rosenberg, our new Managing Director, visited today and stayed for the first read-through.

It was amazing to listen to Doris read the part of Mrs. Darnell, the acerbic elderly tenant at 218 West 10th St. who joins Leo and Nadine’s rooftop anniversary celebration.  She is spot on as Mrs. Darnell and a total delight, both on character and as herself.

During the past few days of rehearsal, we’ve been blocking how the characters’ move about the rooftop during the course of the play.  Today, we are back at the table so that we can all read the play together with Doris.  Table work always yields a host of interesting questions and interpretations after each scene is read. Maria Dizzia, who plays Nadine, asks how premeditated she is supposed to be when Nadine leads Josie (Harriet Harris) to talk about Josie’s affair with Leo.

Terrence, who sits at the table at a computer working away on rewrites while the actors read, never appears to be listening but when a question comes up he always knows exactly where the actors’ are and provides them with an enlightening answer.

Evan Powell, our man on the watch tower, has no lines in the play (but he’s an active participant throughout, observing the rooftop celebrants as he lurks above them on the watch tower.  He is a mysterious presence who appears, disappears and reappears throughout the play.  For the first time today, Evan came alive as he inhabited his character and became a silent participant in scenes with Harriet and Doris.

Tomorrow there will be more rewrites from Terrence and the actors will be on their feet in rehearsal, continuing the magical process in bringing Unusual Acts of Devotion to physical and emotional life.

Shirley Fishman,  Dramaturg