On Monday, Connor Welch and Lexi Bueno were on the stage at Marquette University’s Straz Theater. Lexi looked out into the sea of chairs in the audience and announced, “This is really cool.” Connor played around with a baseball bat he found backstage. Bill Lacy was doing an interview with the school paper (which, in his words, was poaching on my territory).
So the rest of the group was scattered around the theater. Some were playing around with the lights, others were backstage finding props that would work for their sketches, and the rest were going over some final notes for sketches.
Once Bill’s interview was completed, the new group 33rd & State decided to run through the first half of sketches multiple times, to get them as perfect as possible. Sketches had progressed since their rehearsals in Humphrey Hall, but there were still a few bumps along the way. Many of the performers had not quite memorized their lines yet, and they were still figuring out stage directions and the right level of projection in their voices in the new venue.
Even as I walked in halfway through Wednesday’s rehearsal, I noticed a world of difference since Monday. The performers were in full costume and had props nailed down for almost every scene. A member of the Studio 013 Refugees improv group, Jena Wallander, was operating lights and music for in between scenes.
Before Thursday’s rehearsal, multiple members of the group asked me what I thought of the previous night’s rehearsal. Nerves were evident with all of them. The rest of the night ran as a dress rehearsal. The group did a complete run-through including costumes, completely memorized lines, lights and music.
There were improvements from Wednesday. For example, they managed to change out sets almost completely in the dark. The group’s improv roots shone through as they still improvised new jokes into their lines. But there were still minor bumps throughout the rehearsal – such as lines forgotten here or there and missing a cue to come out on stage.
After the final run-through, the group came out on stage to talk over each scene individually. Tensions ran a little high when discussing what needed to be improved in each individual scene. Apparently, switching out sets in the dark wasn’t as smooth as it looked from out in the audience. So, they ran through each transition again, without actually going through the scene.
And just like that, their final rehearsal was done. The culmination to their months of hard work and my months of blogs has finally arrived.
(The stage debut of 33rd& State sketch comedy is at 8:30 p.m., Friday, April 26, at Straz Theater, 915 W. Wisconsin Ave. Admission is FREE.)
Brynne Ramella, a journalism student at Marquette University, is a guest blogger for MilwaukeeComedy, documenting the start-up of Marquette’s sketch comedy troupe, 33rd & State. This is the 11th in her series of reports.