I admit it. I used to think baseball was boring. But then my dad explained that I was totally missing the play action. Say what? The game isn’t just about a showdown between the pitcher and a batter, he said. Watch the other players on the field. See how they shift their positions through the batting order? Every move they make is deliberately orchestrated to allow them to make the best play possible. And so it is with Tinker to Evers to Chance, MRT’s latest production, on stage now until March 6th.
Now I have never thought live theatre was boring, but after watching rehearsals as a member of the Cohort Club I have a new-found appreciation for how the cast and crew of Tinker to Evers to Chance have so finely tuned their positions to make this play perhaps the best of the season. I’ve seen how the playwright has tweaked the play’s language to move us emotionally through time and place, how the director and his actors have refined the play’s characters to make them seem so real to us, how the set designer and the props manager have created and populated different worlds for us to inhabit, how the technical team has cued lights and sounds with such evocative precision, how the costumer has found the perfect sweater or shade of lipstick, and how the stage manager has coordinated this roster of players so the team can take to the field each night fully prepared to play ball. With credit also to the assistants in this undertaking, it’s been a wonder to learn how vast is the effort behind this, and undoubtedly every, production at MRT.
When we take our seats as members of the audience at MRT, we expect to be engaged, amused, enthralled, or moved by the players on stage – for about ninety minutes. It’s an hour and a half I think we take terribly for granted unless we recognize also what has happened “behind the scenes.” A show that looks seamless and fluid to us has been reworked and rehearsed, over and over and over again, by a team of people who have spent literally hundreds and hundreds of person hours to bring a story to life for our enjoyment and entertainment. What looks effortless in performance is really the result of exhaustive work on the part of a great many people before the curtain ever rises.
So remember: When you see Tinker to Evers to Chance (as you must!), take an extra minute to applaud the entire MRT home team for their tireless professionalism and commitment to making the best play possible right here in Lowell. Their work is indeed a most impressive feat of theatre!
-Helen Tubrett, Cohort