Jacob writes a lot about theatre and stuff, so here it is.


FINAL CURTAIN: My Thoughts On Closing Night of 'Nevermore' at Runway Theatre

The last time I actually really looked at an Edgar Allan Poe poem was surprisingly not while I was in college... it was in high school when I did a research paper about his life.  I found his work to be incredibly interesting and darker than I imagined upon first glance.

There have been different attempts at theatricalizing Poe whether it be about his life or using his poems as a basis for a story.  I had a fond interest in the recent off-Broadway production of Nevermore which took Poe's works and set them to music.  The cast album is a haunting and enjoyable experience listening to it now after working on the Julian Wiles version of Nevermore which we close today in Grapevine.

Our director Adam Adolfo musicalized this Nevermore using Panic! At The Disco and its lead singer Brendon Urie, whose vocals are out of this world.  At our first rehearsal, none of us had realized how much of a huge undertaking this production was setting out to be.  Adam had a very specific vision using eight of the songs from Panic'scatalogue, aerial silk choreography, movement in styles choreographed by Bob Fosse or made popular by Paula Abdul, Janet Jackson, among many others.  With less than twenty rehearsals to prepare, we knew how much harder we had to work than anything we'd ever done before.

As we "quote the raven" for the last time today, I am looking back thinking "Wow... we only had eighteen rehearsals.  Look what we did."  We gathered together as a well-oiled machine to make sure we were pumping (and thrusting!) a good product that matched what Adam was looking for.  With a short amount of time, I am hoping we did him proud and made his vision of Poe a reality.

I honestly can't imagine not having the opportunity to work with this amazing cast and crew.  When a show ends, it lives on through them and their spirit.  We had little to no drama and were all in it to win it.  I had the pleasure of working with some of my colleagues again like Joshua Sherman (we did Cabaret together in college), Bea Alvarado (we've worked on several Wesleyan projects together), Trey Cardona (our first show together was The Drowsy Chaperone and he was the props designer when I directed Fuddy Meers at Wesleyan), and Jakeb Lowery (we did Rent together).  I am so glad to have had familiar faces in the group!

Plus, I met a slew of new and talented friends who I hope to work with again in the future.  I've laughed with them, been exhausted with them, and we all helped each other when we needed it... whether it was something personal or in production.  Adam was our leader throughout this whole thing and had a brilliant and different vision he wasn't afraid to bring to fruition... he had trust in all of us to make that vision a reality.  Danica Bergeron, our sound designer, and Scott Davis, our lighting designer and Runway's Board President, helped me get connected with this new theatre and other board members (I look forward to returning to Runway this next weekend for their Vignettes for Valentines benefit).  Bea had us on deck and ready at all times while still making this an enjoyable experience for all of us.  Haven Isom, who is an amazing dancer and should never be ashamed of her talent, always kept me laughing and finding new things to put on Snapchat!.  Terry Gwynne kept me grounded and was so sweet and welcoming.  Zachary Valdez is a brother-from-another-mother and we love talking movies and The Oscars.  Nathan Scott is a talented guy whose work in our show I admire, plus has a big dream and is going for it!  Emma Leigh Montes... girl need to shut up 'cause her voice is amazing and can match any top performer.  Joshua Sherman came to the rescue and did it successfully; his work in this show is chilling.  Magdiel Carmona is a great Poe who carries this show and required so much out of him that he's willing to put all out on the stage every night.  The famously unpictured(!) Kristi Johnson is a beautiful delight with a personality and talent to match.  Laura Watson is a fierce and determined woman who still likes to have a good time... plus she's a mermaid, you guys.  Trey Cardona has always been there for me and looked out for me... and his Hopfrog creeped me the heck out which means he did his job!  Jakeb Lowery is determined, as well, and had a heck of a role in our show.  And then there's my partner-in-crime, Jill Ethridge.  We were paired in many scenes together and she's one of the sweetest and loveliest people I've ever met.

I struggled throughout the rehearsal process, with Adam knowing the show was out of my comfort zone of musical theatre rep, and it was all for the better and helped me to grow in several ways.  Not only with my body image (because dancing shirtless was something I thought I'd never do this soon after losing tons of weight) but with the kind of shows I want to work on... and need to work on for that matter. I may not have been perfect in what people saw onstage at Runway, but hopefully, they saw me trying to accomplish something different.

I've played funny sidekicks and goofs and had a couple of handfuls of opportunities to sink my teeth into good dramatic material (that were not musicals, mind you!).  All of them I found comfort in, for the most part, and had my feet planted on the ground from the time rehearsals started.  Of course, there was still much to learn, especially in earlier shows I did like A Man for All Seasons, but I was never unconfident.  For a while here at Nevermore, I was.  But Adam had faith and trust in my abilities and saw my potential to be different and do things I'd never done before.  I may be a certain type to play particular characters, but hopefully, more opportunities come up where I can stretch that like Nevermore did.

To think, this wouldn't have happened for me if a door of opportunity had not opened up. I look forward into the future as new auditions approach with the idea of trying to be involved in more shows I would normally never do or be perfect for or go for roles I'd never play.  I may have finished my undergrad, but that doesn't mean the learning stops.  I will miss Nevermore and the friendships it brought and the fun we had in a short amount of time.  We worked hard for it... battle wounds and all!  We must have survived the #War.

Jacob Rivera-Sanchez