by Jennifer Noble
I have a bad habit of hitting the snooze button. On this particular Wednesday, I was still at home when I got the call from our stage manager around 12:15pm asking if I felt “safe enough” to go on as Ann Darrow. The reason being - King Kong is such a tech heavy show and my put-in was still two days away.
“Um... you mean this afternoon? Sure.” *Runs to the train*
Surprisingly, I was relieved not to have advance notice. It didn’t give me the chance to worry and overanalyze. Perfect! So, I get to the theatre and we run through some lifts and safety checks. As soon as we finished, the backstage speaker blares “15 minutes to places.” Now is when I start to worry and overanalyze! At this point, I still had no makeup on, no hair prepped for the wig and honestly, not really properly warmed up vocally. It was crunch time, people! Will Vicari, our hair and makeup supervisor, graciously stepped in to do my makeup because my hands were shaking.
Here’s the thing: there are huge chunks of time where the only characters on stage are Ann and Mr. Kong; So my worst fear was that I was going to somehow cause Kong to break (that’s impossible) or that I was going to skip a line and inadvertently throw off the King’s Company cues (they are the performers who bring Kong to life) OR that I would forget my lines entirely, which would leave me standing there staring blankly into the eyes of this massive puppet until I slowly tiptoe off into the wings to check my script and act as if no one noticed… Thankfully, that didn’t happen. But since Kong is a non-speaking character, I had joked with some of the King’s Company that I might need them to throw me a cue from where they’re positioned (just in case).
Luckily, I had some prior rehearsals and a stumble-through of sorts of Act 1 a few weeks before. But as of that morning, I still had never run through the entire show from top to bottom.
Ultimately, my main goal that day was to do my company proud. They are some of the hardest working people I have ever met, and I was hell-bent on not letting them down. It was truly a whirlwind day, but I will never forget how much love surrounded me: Texts from friends and family blowing up my phone and my cast mates checking on me before and during the show. When the curtain finally came down, I turned around and my cast was there showering me with hugs (see my Instagram for reference). That was honestly the best part of the day. And if 9:30 am, Jen would have known what was in store that day… well, I definitely wouldn’t have kept snoozing.