James Dybas, a stage veteran who plays the Executioner in The Scarlet Pimpernel, agreed to keep a diary of the experience for Playbill On-Line's readers. Here is his diary of the weeks leading up to the opening. Watch for his posts throughout the day as he shares his opening night with you.
Sunday November 9, 1997 - 5 PM Critics used to come to opening nights and curtain was earlier so that they could get their reviews in. Nowadays the curtain is still earlier than usual (ours is at 6:30). We know that the critics have been coming to the show since Wednesday, so tonight is for us and our family and friends, to celebrate all of the talent, effort, expertise, and magic that goes into being a part of the team that puts on a show.
It's 5 PM and as I enter the Minskoff stage door, Mike Phillips the stage door man has an enormous smile on his face and with a laugh says, "looks like a florist shop, doesn't it? Can you take these flowers up to your dressing room, I've gotta make some room down here."
Over the loud speaker he calls up to the dressing rooms and asks people to come and pick up their flowers, goodies, cards and telegrams. The theatre is a veritable fun house. Flowers lining every dressing room, corridor, nook and cranny. Gifts of every shape and size on everyone's dressing tables and work stations. Our Green Room (which is our place to take a load off, before, between and after our shows) is filled with bottles of champagne in the mini-refrigerators, baskets of fruit and other goodies and more flowers. It's a joy being here at the Minskoff. In terms of Broadway theatre's, it's one of the newest, even though it's 25 years old. It's bright and clean. We have an elevator that's fast and doesn't break down. The dressing rooms are spacious and state of the art, with floor to ceiling windows overlooking 45th St. ( Look to the right, 50 feet and there's Broadway.)
As a matter of fact our dressing room windows face the Mariott Marquis' dressing room windows and we plan a window surprise for the Capeman cast on their opening night in a few weeks. Everyone's spirits are flying tonight and it seems like we're all in each other dressing rooms and all over the theatre handing out and receiving flowers and opening night cards and gifts. We've truly become a "family."
There's not been this much laughter, hugging and kissing since. . . well, since our first run through with orchestra. I ride the elevator down stairs and take a look out side .The Klieg lights are making their bright light patterns in the sky in front of the theatre. The street is swarming with limos, lots of beautiful and interesting people dressed to the nine's in tuxedos and full length gowns. And you can feel the high anxiety, excitement, laughter and anticipation of Opening Night. Looks like all 1700 seats are gonna be filled with family, friends, agents, business associates and theatre lovers who can't resist the excitement of Opening Night.