What your shoelaces have to do with shows, acting, and everything.

You ever see a show early in previews, fall in love with its awesomeness, and then go back to see it again a few months later . . . and somehow it feels different?  Maybe the energy is off, or the performances seem, well, like they are a few months old?

One of the challenges of doing the same thing over and over again is that things start to stray from where they were originally.  It’s not that the whole thing falls apart, it just . . . falls.

Think about it this way . . .

You get up in the morning, throw on your shoes, and tie ’em up tight.  And off you step, out into the world!

A few hours later, your shoelaces will loosen up, all on their own.  It just happens.  Just from walking around, doing what you do.

And at some point, you’re going to have to bend over and tighten those suckers back up again, or you’re going to trip and fall (or should I say flop?) flat on your face.

If you’re a Director or a Producer or a Writer on a long running show, you’re going to have to look out for loosening laces.  It happens.  It’s natural.  So make sure you have a system and a staff in place to make sure things get tightened up every so often.

And hey, don’t think this just happens to actors.  It happens to athletes.  It happens to engineers.  It happens to everyone.

Just last week, after one of my mystery callers checked in on That Bachelorette Show, I discovered that one of our work flow patterns for sales calls was off (a couple of closing questions that I wanted asked somehow weren’t being asked).  Because of our mystery caller system, we identified the problem, and corrected it.

Just because you get something exactly the way you want it to be doesn’t mean it’s going to stay that way.  In fact, I guarantee it won’t.

So to stay at the top of your game, you’ve got to figure out a way to stay in your shoes.

 

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Comments
  • Michael DiGaetano says:

    You get up in the morning, throw on your shows , and tie ’em up tight. And off you step, out into the world!

    Throw on your ‘shows’… Freudian slip-ons? 🙂

  • Nancy Levine says:

    I’m a firm believer in brush up rehearsals! Things can always be tightened up or new things can be discovered by both the actor and the director. Theater is living and breathing and it should always be growing or it gets stale.

  • David Merrick Jr says:

    Wow. This happened to me last year with BEAUTIFUL. Truly loved it the first time, went back again some months later (still the original cast). Couldn’t really put my finger on it but didn’t like it nearly as much the second time.

  • Daniel says:

    And sometimes you can tell the first time seeing a production.

    I saw a performance of Guys and Dolls in London nearly a decade ago now (it was the production that Ewan McGregor had been in earlier in the run), and the whole show just felt ~wrong. I knew at the time that they could’ve done with a day or two of rehearsal, just to get everything back to its original state.

    Same thing when I saw Avenue Q at New World Stages two years ago. The energy was there, but it just wasn’t quite the right energy.

  • Elisa Clayton says:

    Thanks for the advice!

  • Joe Marino says:

    I agree. I saw Les Miserables 2.5 times. I saw it twice early in it’s run, and by 1989 or ’90, I went in to see it again- one of those Tuesday night -student rush $16 shows. I couldn’t wait for the (interminable) ACT I to end. I’m telling you, it was time for a brush up, a JOLT soda (anyone?) for the cast, or a great big ole overhaul by Sir Cameron. I was never so glad ( or disappointed) to leave a theater at intermission.
    Once a movie’s in the can, the performances will stay fresh for decades. But a show? Remember, my money is just as valuable as those who saw the show opening week.

    A couple of years ago I took some friends to see The Phantom of the Opera. Mind you this was twenty plus years into its historic run. Well, Sir Cameron, Mr. Prince and their entourages must have been in town for a brush up. The sets looked great, the sound was fantastic and on stage was a cast brimming with energy and vitality. (This was a Wed. evening after a matinee, too!). I re-discovered the show that day because of that production and that cast. I’m toying with the idea of taking my kids next year.

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Ken Davenport
Ken Davenport

Tony Award-Winning Broadway Producer

I'm on a mission to help 5000 shows get produced by 2025.

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