"Not much happens at a first rehearsal" writes Valerie Martin in "The Confessions of Edward Day," her new novel about New York theater, "but the atmosphere is fraught with tension." As Oscar Wilde wrote in The Importance of Being Earnest,: "This is what we call fiction."
At least Martin's description was fiction when applied to yesterday's meet and greet for In the Next Room, where, if there was tension, it was so subsumed as to make no matter. The day unfurled without a ripple. Cast and crew and staff assembled in the theater's large rehearsal room. Although we have passed the point of mid-September, there was, in the pre-festivities chatter, a lot of "What I Did This Summer" summarizing. People tucked in to the usual coffee, fruit, and pastries, and devoured the devilled eggs that had been prepared by Denise Yaney, the assistant stage manager. (Since this production is being stage managed by Roy Harris, who has published several cookbooks, and who is the unofficial King of the Broadway Brunch, this blog will probably consist as much of culinary notes as of rehearsal reporting.)
Allow me to invoke a metaphor and say that those eggs, on the first day, were significant. This is, after all, a play about female sexuality, and involves a great deal of talk not only about pleasure but about procreation. I will not flog the comparison further, except to say that the room gave ample evidence that a creative project was underway, and enjoyably so for all the parties.
I would be remiss if I did not notice that director Les Waters gave a witty explanation of the show's set, which is designed by his wife, Annie Smart; that LCT's artistic director, Andre Bishop, mentioned that the Lyceum, whereIn The Next Room will be playing, is his favorite theater on Broadway, for reasons of acoustics and ample backstage area; and that Bernard Gersten, LCT's executive producer, welcomed the troops by citing Bottom's charge to his fellow actors at the first rehearsal of Pyramus and Thisbe, in A Midsummer Night's Dream: "Masters," says Bottom, "spread yourselves."
No metaphorical analysis is necessary there, I hope.
BRENDAN LEMON is the American theater critic for the Financial Timesand the editor of lemonwade.com.