It’s hard to believe, but in nine short weeks, Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma rehearses, performs, and closes 4 very different shows at the Civic Center Music Hall. It is a grueling schedule for everyone involved, but particularly the actors who are cast in back to back productions. These performers rehearse one show during the day, and perform another show that night. Almost every summer, one or two performers are in all four productions- this year, that was Melissa Griffith and Sarah Quinn. We asked Melissa, who has been performing with Lyric for 3 years, if she would answer a few questions for us about her summer with Lyric. You may have seen her in LYRIC’S A CHRISTMAS CAROL (Belle), or SOME ENCHANTED EVENING. This year, she was in the ensemble for LES MISÉRABLES, DISNEY’S THE LITTLE MERMAID, MONTY PYTHON’S SPAMALOT, and Mrs. Segstorm in A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC.
Tell us about your schedule for the past nine weeks.
Melissa Griffith: It’s been a crazy summer: about 26 8-hour days and 24 13-hour days with a total of eight days off. The most difficult part about this summer is winding down from rehearsal/shows each night to get a good night of sleep in before the next day. There were a lot of power naps had this summer both in my car and on the couch in our dressing room. I’ve always been a work-a-holic, so I live for a schedule like this!
The four shows we’re doing at the Civic Center this summer are all very different! What has the transition from drama to comedy and back again been like?
Melissa: The variety this season has been great. When you rehearse one show in the day and perform another at night, it keeps the process fresh and interesting. But my favorite part about switching back and forth is watching the actors who are playing two completely different roles within the season and witnessing their work in the rehearsal process.
What does a performance day in the life of Melissa Griffith look like?
Melissa: Most every day has started by packing two meals and lots of snacks. After rehearsing one show in the day, I would go straight to the theatre to eat my dinner and watch a little of a movie to take my mind away for a bit. The movie for my routine this summer was “Bell, Book and Candle.” Especially once we got into the third show (SPAMALOT), I had to get ready with 15 minutes to spare so I could review the choreography and quick-changes in my mind just to be sure my memory hadn’t slipped while focusing on NIGHT MUSIC in the daytime.
If you had to pick one, do you have a favorite costume you’ve worn this summer?
Melissa: Without question, my favorite costume is in A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC. There are two dresses I wear that were built specifically for the show, and I was so taken with them at my first fitting that I was holding back tears. It might sound silly, but to have someone design and build something that beautiful just for you is pretty amazing. Jeffrey Meek and his staff are just phenomenal.
Do you have a favorite memory from the past few weeks?
Melissa: One of my favorite memories is being on stage during SPAMALOT while Monte [Riegel Wheeler] delivered the rest of the line following “We are now the Knights who say…” Luckily, I was in a huge costume that hid any convulsions from laughter if I broke. [Editor’s note: Monte changed the end of this line at every performance, so the other actors never knew what he would say!] It’s one thing to see the show once (or even twice) and witness what followed, but what an absolute honor to be standing there each and every time. He surely kept everyone on their toes, and I think the entire cast and crew were always very eager to hear that specific moment each performance.