The premiere of The Manga Flute is this afternoon at 3:00 pm. The theater will be very full — as of yesterday morning the orchestra section was full except for a handful of singles around the edges, but there were still seats available in the balcony.
The show looked great at the dress rehearsal on Friday. Megan Willis’s art is glorious and vibrant, and the costumes play beautifully against her backdrops. The prologue, a manga sequence created by Megan and beautifully assembled by Jeremy Knight, is terrific — you don’t want to miss the overture.
The cast was terrific, despite some dialogue flubs and nerves. Eugene is a hoot as Papageno. The Three Ladies were stronger and funnier in the opening scene than I’ve seen them before. All of act one feels like it is working beautifully all the way through. Act two felt like it might be five minutes or so too long. Caroline, the stage director, Jonathan, the musical director, and I talked Friday about the possibility of cutting a few minutes out at the dress rehearsal to see how it went, but Caroline decided it was wiser not to, and while I was open to the experiment, I don’t mind at all not making it after all — it’s easy to make a poor decision when you haven’t played the show before a real audience. Seeing how the show works for an audience may make clear exactly what it would be best to trim (if not for this production, then for the next), or could reveal that some other adjustment than trimming is what’s needed, or even that the show works fine as it is and we’ve just gotten to know the show too well to see how it will play.
And of course making changes is a burden on the memories of the performers and makes it that much harder to be acting and singing at their best. Given that the potential improvement to the script is somewhat minor, it may well be wiser to let it go for this production and make a note of the change for use in the next production, should there be one.