By Tal Etedgi
I walked into the Provincetown Playhouse, signed in for the YIKES! audition, and waited a few minutes until I was called in. Walking down the steps of the theater, I was approached by Tony Graham, a wonderful director and teacher from England. He shook my hand, introduced himself, and asked me to sit down and talk about myself. At other auditions I’ve been to, I’ve felt that they were so rushed and that the auditors aren’t always listening to you so I appreciated that Tony listened to me and made me feel comfortable.
It was such an honor to receive a callback, and to be cast as the “Grandma” in YIKES! After reading the script, I was sure I had come across the most obscure and out of this world TYA musical. With that, rehearsals began, and we went right into the bazaar world of Grandma, Solomon (the grandson), Mary (the granddaughter), Baby, Zipper (the dog), and of course the Wakikata (characters from the Japanese tradition, known to be the assisters on stage who served as our obstacles, ancestors, and guides through our trek).
In rehearsals, Tony led the cast through collective warm-ups and exercises such as singing “Yonder Come Day” and a game in which one person was the choir director conducting the rest of the cast through sound. After the first week of rehearsals, everyone felt very connected and fully embraced this strange and obscure musical. Zipper, played by Gus Jacobson, was on all fours, while Mary, the ridiculous and angry teenager became snootier by the day.
When performances came around, I was eager to see how the students would react. After every school performance we gathered the entire cast and crew onstage, and had a Q & A session with the students. I’m sure I can speak for the cast when I say that we were blown away, and completely amazed by all of their questions and thoughts which included: “Where did the Grandma go?” “Who is going to take care of the children now that Grandma’s gone?” “Are the Wakikata angels?”
Being a part of YIKES! instilled so much adventure and spontaneity in my acting, and I want to thank Tony that as well as for the trust he had in the cast to put on this beautiful production, and the passion he has for theatrical journeys. I feel that from the moment I auditioned, to the end, the journey was strong, and powerful. The cast went beyond any expectation with this musical, and I no longer consider this show “obscure,” but as a beautiful piece of theatre that has a lasting effect on both young children and adults.
Yikes! was presented at the Provincetown Playhouse in February 2012 featuring book and lyrics by Bryony Lavery, music by Gary Yershon, and direction by Tony Graham.