Anchors Aweigh: A Seafaring Tale of "Mister Roberts"
Ahoy, matey, and welcome aboard the USS Reluctant. Actually, welcome to the rehearsal hall at the Omaha Community Playhouse as I bring you to what is fast becoming the world of Mister Roberts. We’re about three weeks into rehearsal now and this ship is fast taking shape (pun intended). It never ceases to be a treat for me as I watch actors make new discoveries of their characters and find ways to turn simple lines into comedic gold.
Just last night, I had a great moment with Ron Chvala who plays Doc. I was lamenting about the end of the crew’s liberty and fondly remembering the Elysium goddess who made a man out of me with the lines, “There goes the liberty. That was sure a wham-bam-thank you, ma’am.” As I turned a dreamy face toward Ron, he stared at me for a brief moment, then deadpanned, “Good night,” before making his exit. I’m glad I already had a goofy grin on my face because I wanted to split my sides laughing. Ron’s delivery was so hilarious that I actually forgot my next line.
And that’s what I like about rehearsals. It’s all about throwing things against the wall to see what sticks and what grows organically as your character slowly begins to take on a life of its own. And the magic doesn’t stop there. Although the point of rehearsal is to create a life from words on a page, the art of acting is an ever evolving animal and I have often seen actors have a moment of inspiration on stage where they’ve discovered another aspect of their character and show it through a new gesture or turn of the phrase and the performance becomes fresh and original once more.
When this adventure began, we were, for the most part, complete strangers to each other. Now we’re slowly becoming a team. . .a unit. . .a family and it’s the constant interaction and chemistry we discover among ourselves that helps us to forge the temporary identities we will soon assume.
Tonight is another rehearsal and another step closer toward creating this incredible world.
--submitted by Chris Elston, a cast member of Mister Roberts