One of the things you can always expect in theatre.... is the unexpected. Anything can happen. The audience might react in ways you don't foresee. Actors could inadvertently mix up their dialogue. Or, a prop might be in the wrong place, and someone has have to move it -- in-character. Anything can happen, but that's just part of the excitement of live theatre.
The same thing can happen in rehearsal, however. And for us... it did.
On Wednesday, with three weeks left before our show opens, our lead actress dropped out. She's the older woman who plays my character's mother. And... the largest role in the play. Rarely ever is she offstage, and her line load is, to put it nicely, intense.
Her reasons were sound though. She's retired, and going back to school full time for a degree in theatre. With her class load, her age, and the intense requirements of the Mother Watt's role, she just wasn't able to keep going with the play. So, on Wednesday, our director broke the news to us, and the frantic search began for a new actress to step in and fill the role.
At tonight's rehearsal, we met the new actress, and spent the night familiarizing her with the character, the blocking, and some of the character interactions at the beginning of the play. Things went well, the new actress is settling in better than expected, and we're back to rehearsing as planned.
Still, we'll miss the former actress. She was well respected, her work ethic was admirable, and we'd been developing relationships with her and the character for some time. Now we start all over -- with a new actress. The show goes on, and in three weeks we'll still open. Ludie... has a brand new Mamma!