Tonight is our first preview for Part II and it would probably be helpful for those not familiar, to explain exactly what a preview is. How is it different from Opening?  How is it different from other performances? Previews are a time-honored tradition, practiced in most professional theatres from Broadway to Pittsburgh to Chapel Hill.   Preview performances are works in progress, the final stage of the rehearsal process. They give a company the opportunity to “test-drive” a production in front of a live audience, while still being able to rehearse the production during the day. Directors, designers and actors are honing the performance to a fine point during the day, and “trying it out” it on the evening audiences. Broadway productions can have anywhere from 2 to 6 weeks of previews before the official Opening.  PlayMakers traditionally runs 3 preview performances and then the big Opening Night. Nicholas Nickleby, like all of our rep shows to date, has a slightly altered preview schedule to allow for two shows opening on the same day. Part I had its technical rehearsals(“tech”) two weekends ago, then previewed Wednesday-Friday. There were no performances this past Saturday and Sunday, to allow time in the theatre for Part II to tech. Today Part II will get its first run in front of a live audience!

Unlike previews, Opening Night is the “finished product”. The rehearsal process can run almost up until curtain time on Opening Night, but once it’s open – it’s done! Once a show is officially opened, the directors and designers move on and leave the show in the capable hands of the actors and stage managers. No more changes are made. The lights are set. The staging is complete. No more costume additions. No more new direction of any kind. The hardest part of the process – rehearsal – is over and the production is, at last, ready for its run. As actors get more and more comfortable in their roles and live with them longer, the show’s energy might change a bit and every performance is slightly different based on the audience, how the actors respond to them, etc. – which is what makes live theatre so extraordinary.

Most theatres take Opening Night as an opportunity to celebrate the company’s achievements. A PlayMakers Opening Night is always a festive event filled with subscribers, single ticket buyers and invited guests. This is our opportunity to thank our generous supporters and invite our peers to share in our excitement. The performance is followed by a Gala reception with great food and wine provided by a variety of local businesses.  For Nicholas Nickleby, the food will be provided by Durham Catering Company and the wine by La Residence.  Both Preview performances and Opening Nights are open to the public. If you would like to join us for any of these performances, check out our website for more information. Tickets are still available for all remaining performances, but our Opening Day double header is selling quickly, and typically sells out, so Hurry!