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Hats Off

The first off-book rehearsal was a fiasco. Well, more of a debacle, really. It went exactly as everybody expected it to: very, very badly.

People who know their speeches cold, and were in fact running them backstage before their entrances without any errors, got into the scenes and blanked. I only asked for a line once, plus of course the time I screwed up without asking for a line. Our Pickering, bless him, came in several times with great confidence and mellifluousness with a line from later in the scene. That will throw a person off. Our Liza and our Higgins blundered through, blanking and swearing and stamping their feet. It was, in short, a disaster. Just exactly as it is supposed to be. So that’s all right, Best Beloved, d’y’see? If tonight is a disaster, too, then that will be fine. If Wednesday night is a disaster, then it will start to be a problem…

The good news (other than the disaster proceeding according to plan, which isn’t so much good news as expected news) is that we have nearly all the costume bits and hand props, and a good deal of the set dressing as well. Miraculous, actually, when you think that there are two and a half weeks left before opening. Fifteen rehearsals? Something like that. Our first Dress rehearsal is two weeks from yesterday. Except that we’re doing an early Dress for the photographer, but that doesn’t count.

Most important is that we have The Hat. Eliza’s hat, that is. Somehow, it’s not Pygmalion without Eliza’s hat. Eliza isn’t Eliza without it. And it’s such a wonderful hat, really magnificently shabby, or do I mean shabbily magnificent? Shabbily magnificent. You can see why Higgins wants to try it on, and why Mrs. Pearce won’t let him. It’s a whale of a hat. If I were worried about the off-book disaster (and in case it isn’t clear, I’m not worried in the slightest), I would be reassured by The Hat. Any show with a hat like this is bound to be good.

Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,

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