We played Cotton Patch Gospel before two preview audiences yesterday. Preview audiences are a laboratory for our shows. Our director, Warner, watches the audience reactions very closely.
Our first preview audience taught us about the level of energy we need to bring to the first act. We were approaching Cotton Patch as a comfortable, fireside story. I would say we succeeded in creating that environment, but it didn’t work. The audience seemed disconnected from us. We didn’t entirely lose them, but the whole story just seemed “nice” instead of actively engaging.
We applied that knowledge to the second preview, and found our show.
What we brought was a more urgent, enthusiastic energy and a tighter pace. I could feel the difference right away. The audience seemed drawn in and energized. The whole theater felt like a community. By the time we got to the end of the show, it felt like we all shared the experience and the final release was exhilarating.
But exhausting! We learned that it will take a great deal of energy to do this show, especially on two show days. We all seemed to flag a bit before the final curtain.
Today we open, and I feel like we are nearly ready. We will have a short rehearsal beforehand to tighten up some of those details that are making us crazy, and then TAA DAAAAA.