Doing a Show at PGT Sometimes Requires Multiple Personalities
In Legally Blonde last season, I played Elle’s Mother, Cat Lady, and Chutney Windham, as well as a Harvard student, a delta nu and a store clerk. In the beginning, the challenge seemed impossible, but in the end it was exciting and fun to be able to perform all of these characters in one show.
When I first got my casting call, I was pleasantly surprised to hear that I was going to be playing more than one character. At first, I wasn’t sure what to think, not really knowing that much information about each of them. During the first rehearsal, as we were reading through the script, I began to think about all the different voices, gestures and attitudes each character would have. I discovered that reading a scene as Elle’s Mom was drastically different from reading a scene as Chutney Windham. As the rehearsal process continued I was able to experiment with many choices, not only during scene work, but during class. Being able to bounce off of other actors and follow the advice of my director, Rachel Berger, really helped me define each role.
Once we started run-throughs, the fun really began. I needed to transition between each character, in the short amount of time it took for a scene transition. Instead of just running one scene multiple times, as we did earlier in the process, we ran each act, which had multiple characters that I was playing. So, instead of focusing on one character for the whole rehearsal, I had to play them all in just a couple of hours!
It was hard at first, to go from a perky delta-nu sorority girl to a mother trying to understand why her Beverly Hills daughter wanted to go to Harvard. They each carried themselves differently, sounded different and had totally different goals. But once I really knew who each character was and what their objective was in the scene, everything came together quite smoothly.
Then, during tech week, we added costumes and props….and it all came to life.
And it got pretty hectic too! In the second act, within the same song, I had to go from a salon patron to Chutney, changing not only my costume, but adding a wig. I didn’t believe that I could ever accomplish such a vigorous quick change. But with practice and patience, and the help of the costume crew and other actors, I was practically a pro at quick changes! It was especially fun to add props, accessories and wigs and try different ways of using each to my advantage.This process has taught me a lot about remaining focused and in character as well as taking risks in order to establish different qualities each character has. I absolutely loved my experience getting to create a half a dozen characters and being able to perform them all in the same show.