Kevin Chamberlin, who plays Dimas, the comic gardener, in Triumph of Love, is a longtime online fan. He has agreed to post a diary of his opening night experiences as part of Playbill On-Line's "Countdown to Curtain." Look for his logo throughout the day!
October 23, 1997 - Noon The day of opening night!! This is the day we've all been working toward, waiting for.
I feel very reflective this morning. I've been thinking back over the past two months and all the work we've put into this new musical - blood, sweat and tears - those days in the rehearsal hall choreographing and staging numbers, learning the music by getting the notes pounded out on the piano for us with our tape recorders in hands, all of the cast changes we had the first two weeks, trying to figure out how the set would look when all we had was green tape on the floor. I thought we'd never leave that rehearsal space.
I remember very clearly the first day in The Royale, walking into the theater and seeing Heidi Ettinger's amazing set for the first time, and Paul Gallo's brilliant lighting bring to full glory. We all were amazed at how it looked - everything was heightened - bigger and better than we had all imagined. Getting into our dressing rooms, first day in costumes, first dress rehearsal then that bizarre first preview - where we were all "out of our bodies" as Roger Bart put it. The audience gave us a huge standing ovation, but the evening was long. We came down at 10:45pm and we knew we had an embarrasment of riches that just needed to be cut and trimmed.We then started in on the most stressful, exhausting four weeks of my carrer to date; five hour rehearsal days with performances at night, trying to remember the cuts, the new songs, choreography, costume changes all while giving the paying audience an evening in the theatre they would never forget.
The first Sunday performance, September 24th is a night I'll never forget. Roger, Nancy and I have this number called, "Henchman are Forgotten - and after we hit the button of the number, the audience erupted in applause that seemed to go on for over a minute. We had stopped the show. I can't tell you how magical it was.
The whole preview process could fill up three whole diaries, but needless to say, we made the changes, the cuts, and with a show that now comes down at 10:20, we've made it to opening night. The last three performances have been very scary with the critics in the house. We were all a bit on edge on Tuesday and Wednesday, and no one felt 100% about their performance. Having a house filled with press is not really conducive to comedy. It all felt a bit unnatural. What they thought remains to be seen, but I'm trying not to dwell on that this morning.
I woke up this morning with a start, as if the alarm hadn't gone off and I was late for an appointment. I've been hit with the realization that I have so much still to do.
Roger Bart and I are getting a stretch limo for the evening - one of those long 10 person babies. We want to make this a truly special evening for us and more importantly for our friends and family. I just got off the phone with the limo driver - who is also a friend of a friend and is giving Roger and I a good deal on the price - and told him to come pick up me and my friends at 5pm. The curtain is at 6:30 and I want to get to the theatre early enough to distribute all of my opening night presents and deal with all the flowers and telegrams. The limo will then go uptown and pick up Roger's friends and bring them back to the theatre and the red carpet.
I must say that it feels like Christmas morning. My roommate is fixing me breakfast right now, and will be helping me with some last minute shopping and picking up of cards, flowers, booze, and dry cleaning. I bought a nice Jane Barnes tuxedo, and I've decided that instead of wearing a tie, I would do the tux with a vest and nice T-shirt. I could try it all on, hate it, and go with something completely different.
I'm also hit with a great feeling of sadness this morning. Last year I lost my mother and father at the very young age of 61. It was always their dream to see me starring on Broadway. They always came to all my openings. I remember when I took them to the big premiere of my first film, "Diehard With A Vengeance". I rented a limo, and we drove up to the theatre and all the paparazzi were clicking away as we got out of the car. When I came on the screen, I looked over at their faces, and tears were streaming down their faces. They were so proud of me. They knew how many years I'd put in working temp jobs, word processing, waiting tables -and all for this moment. It was a night I'd never forget. I never thought it would be the last opening they would attend. Needless to say, I know they will be watching from the best seats in the house.