For most Huntington shows, the first rehearsal is the same day as what we call the "Meet & Greet," a luncheon that offers an opportunity for the cast, creative team, and Huntington to all say "hello," usually accompanied by opening remarks from our company leaders and/or the director of the production.
The schedule for The Seagull, however, was a little different. Some shows are better served by getting the actors on their feet as soon as possible, while others (especially classic plays with denser scripts or translations) benefit from a close reading and analysis before the actors ever move around the room. This rehearsal process started with several days of "table work," as we call it, before the official Meet & Greet on Tuesday, February 11.
Michael Maso lead off the festivities with a brief introduction and a few kind words for former Artistic Director Nicholas Martin, who unfortunately had to step down from the production for personal reasons despite having already assembled most of the cast and creative team. "We are particularly lucky to have this extraordinary dream team of artists here, and Maria, our friend, coming into this production," he said to the assembled room. Peter DuBois added, "This is going to be an extraordinary production and kind of a beautiful handoff between Nicky and Maria. It's going to be fantastic, and I'm really glad everyone's here. Welcome back to those who are returning, and for those of you who are here for the first time, we're going to treat you like gold. That's all I have to say."
"It's a bit soon. I'm back too soon," Maria Aitken jested. "But nevertheless. Nicky is a very old friend, and the siren call of Maso, DuBois, and Wigle is one that I never can resist. The people who work here, the staff here, they are the best ever, which is really why I come back and back and back. And I've inherited this extraordinary creative dream team with which I'm really privileged to work. Nicky assembled a wonderful group of people I would've known myself if I had started in this country, but somehow I missed them. It's sort of thrilling to meet up with them now, so that's fantastic. And of course I've got this cast. We've had these two days together around the table -- which is something that should happen in every single production that is ever done -- and it's really exciting. They are an extraordinary group and we're going to have an extraordinary time. So just keep everything crossed, and let's do what we usually do!"
Afterward, costume designer Robert Morgan shared his preliminary sketches for the production (which are absolutely gorgeous). This was also different from our standard design presentations, as it was less about his specific designs than it was his overall philosophy and approach to costume design, but it was still fascinating nonetheless. You can watch the complete presentation below, and get a peek at some of his stunning sketches: