For My Next Trick … Opening a New Musical in Tokyo in a Pandemic
Safety measures at the rehearsal studio were extensive. Upon arriving each day, participants put their personal belongings in assigned garment bags, including face masks they wore during their masks. The production provided a new mask each day to be worn throughout the rehearsal. No food was allowed in the room. No sharing phone charger. The schedule regularly included “breaking braking”.
During my first week in quarantine at the Tokyo Hotel, I attended the rehearsal via Zoom. Choreographer, Ste Clough, Was already in the studio, but the rest of the foreign creative team was back-channeling on WhatsApp. During the week, we cut 15 minutes from the show, changed a song and added notes coming from many directions. We staged the first half of our intermission-less music.
Then, on the morning of my eighth day in quarantine, I received a call from a manufacturer. One of the actors was experiencing symptoms and tested positive for Kovid-19. The rehearsal was in progress. They Exposed – 19 cast members; Various producers, stage managers and production assistants who were in the room every day; As well as those who were stopped by – including our orchestrator and a vocal coach, that afternoon was being tested.
The more optimistic among us shared the hope that the results would validate the precautions to be taken, permission to resume work in two weeks, after everyone’s close contact with the aggrieved actor had ended his quarantine period.
The following afternoon, at the Zoom Production Meeting, our lead producer relayed the results. Seven positive. On stage five, two off. Our efforts may be limited, but certainly not prevent the spread of the virus. It was becoming increasingly difficult to adapt to constantly changing circumstances. “Sometimes,” he said, “the biggest thing is to walk away.”
If we start again, I recognized, it would be with the fewest possible people in the studio. And, I had to admit, I wasn’t sure that I was going to feel safe to be one of them. As there was already a remote rehearsal device, I decided to return to New York.