By Alison Perelman, For The Miami Student
By 6 p.m. on opening night of the theatre department's production of One Acts, the actors in "The Last Cigarette" are already in hair and makeup, while the crew sweeps the stage and checks all the lights.
Junior Sloan Kyler, stage manager for "These Seven Sicknesses," runs around the Center for Performing Arts. She checks on the ushers and goes through what needs to be done when people arrive and during intermission. She rounds up her actors, telling them to go to the dressing room and start getting ready. She checks back with the crew. They're changing a light that has burnt out, but everything else seems to be ready.
Sloan runs into Molly Laska, stage manager for the first act, "The Last Cigarette," in the lobby. Molly offers her a cookie from Insomnia and Sloan gladly takes one.
"This cookie is saving my life right now," she says after taking a bite, finally able to stop for a minute and breathe.
But then it's right back to work. She heads back to the dressing room.
Her actors are all in various states of dress as they dance and sing along to "Uptown Funk." There's gossip and laughter, and, of course, they have to get a picture together. Sloan calls 10 minutes until fight call, when they rehearse complex scenes, and the girls scramble to finish getting dressed.
It's now about 6:40 p.m. and Karly Danos walks around the stage, taking her space and centering herself.
"I'm feeling good … Yeah, I'm nervous, but it's a good nervous. I accept that it's never going to be perfect … but I'm going to do my best, that's all I can do," she says.
Rylan Hixson arrives and they practice a water throwing scene one more time. They both walk the stage while doing various voice warm ups before coming together to do an exercise. They face each other and count off as they shake their arms and legs. By the end, they can't keep straight faces and laugh as they walk off the stage.
The Act Two actors arrive. They circle up to breathe, and do voice warm ups and play a few rounds of "Zip, Zap, Zop." They practice their few fight scenes, then circle up again to pass around the good energy.
The crew sweeps and mops the stage one last time.
Sloan meets with her actors and Molly takes her place in the call booth. She and the two guys helping with sound and lights check the mics and watch as the audience files in.
"I haven't had a free night since the beginning of this school year for this show," Molly says.
The lights dim. The show begins.
But, just as one group sighs with relief and receives congratulations, another tenses with nerves and excitement, ready to break a leg.
The actors in "These Seven Sicknesses" wait for the cue to take their places. They chatter with excitement, trying to stay calm.
"I'm so excited, let's do this! I'm ready to go, I can't wait!" says Colin Sapienza.
Rylan and Karly agreed that the worst part was the anticipation of waiting backstage. It felt like forever before they were finally able to take the stage, then the show seemed to go by in the blink of an eye.
But all of the practice, nerves and anticipation are worth it.
"I want to go out and do it again right now," says Rylan, grinning.