Our creative team (L to R: Musical Director Pancho, Assistant Director Ellen, Director Shaun, Assistant Choreographer Deborah, and Choreographer Susie) were a unifying force for the cast. But Deb was my anchor. (Photo: Alan Dean Photography)

A lot of the creative process that leads to a good show happens well before the cast is selected. The artistic team – that is, the Artistic Director, Music Director and Choreographer – have to huddle together to make sure they’re all on the same page about an overall vision for the show.

That’s an intimate process and one I wasn’t privy to, but they looped in the rest of the production team in early 2018 at our earliest production meeting.

Yay! We were finally underway!

The artistic team shared their vision with the people in charge of costumes, sets, lighting, sound, props, hair, makeup, and carpentry…and of course with little old me!

I left that meeting inspired – in part because I gained a better understanding of the show we were about to mount, but also because I started to get to know the amazing members of the production team that were going to be leading me on this journey.

It was also the first time I realized that I was about to bond with Deborah – our assistant choreographer.

Like me, this was also the first time Deb had been involved with an Orpheus production, but I knew her well before the production started. Deb is an incredible group fitness instructor who has been teaching me dance moves on a weekly basis for several years now.

We were already friends when Shaun recruited us both to work on the show, but I don’t think I understood just how much sharing this first-time experience together was going to bring us closer together.

Deb with Sarah J, showing off one of the incredible costume designs put together by the talented wardrobe department.

When she drove me home after that first production meeting, Deb and I laughed and joked about everything we had just heard because we both felt slightly absurd being lumped in with these passionate and creative people. We were in sync about what we had both gotten ourselves into, and that was clearly going to continue as the weeks of rehearsals went on.

It wasn’t long before we became utterly reliant on one another – clinging together. Yes, we’re both friendly and sociable people, but there’s safety in numbers, and comfort in a familiar face!

That reliance on one another set the ball rolling on Deborah moving from casual friend to close confidante.

From the pre-audition meetings, all during the rehearsal process and right on through the performances, whenever we were working on Mamma Mia! we were rarely out of one another’s sight.

I became dependent on Deb for rides home at night, when we could huddle together to laugh about the fun we had with the cast during rehearsals and to commiserate about any backstage drama that might have reared its ugly head.

I knew early on that this was gonna wind up as the most important relationships to come out of this whole affair. It was clear that, by the time the show ended, Deb and I were gonna have a special bond. Even if the show turned out to be crap (it didn’t), I would have a new bestie!

And that’s exactly what happened. I love you, Deb!


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