Jaclyn Bethany’s episodic, The Rehearsal, takes us literally backstage to the world of New York theatre. While the series may not have the drama and intrigue of the West Coast rich and famous, The Rehearsal does find it’s own “drama” from East Coast actors, directors, and theatre producers.
The pilot episode masterfully introduces us to the series regulars and hits the ground running with their storylines. Anne (Jaclyn Bethany) is not only the main character of the show but the character is a struggling actress, barely holding on to a lead role she booked in a new play. “Barely holding on,” you ask? There’s Naomi (Caitlin Carver), who was the frontrunner for the lead role for a long time until Anne was discovered. Will Naomi be successful in undermining Anne to replace her? Lastly, there’s the play’s leading male character goes to Adam (Alex Hurt), who has a natural talent for acting. His problem is he knows it and is intolerable to acting methods and exercises.
Meanwhile, at home, Anne is married to playwright Tate (Adam David Thompson). Anne is his muse. Unfortunately, her powers of inspiration have diminished as Tate is in a writing slump. He has to deliver a new play soon to his ex-wife Helen (Tina Benko), with whom he built a theatre company from the ground up and who is also bitter about the divorce and being replaced by Anne as the wife. Conflict with Helen reaches its zenith as she is demanding full custody of their daughter Sadie (Rileigh McDonald). Does it help that Sadie hates Anne’s guts?
“Anne is his muse. Unfortunately, her powers of inspiration have diminished as Tate is in a writing slump.”
The pilot episode of The Rehearsal does everything it needs to do to capture an audience’s attention, introduce characters, and instantly set the tone establishing the compelling conflicts for the rest of the series. For an actor, art is life. For everyone involved, this is their passion, and they pursue it seeking excellence with fame as its by-product. The main obstacle in their way is all these other people struggling to reach the same goal in a vicious competition to win. Then there’s the craft as we see actors and creators tap deeply into their emotions to nail their performance and also how those same emotions seep into their personal lives.
The series only real weakness is also its strength. Bethany created a world that is specific and authentic to the world of acting and theater, that those of us who are not from that world may find it difficult to relate to overall. It’s a Catch-22, because while the plotlines and conflicts may feel real to working actors, writers, and directors, there may be a huge disconnect to the average layperson with 9-to-5 jobs.
While I may be that average layman, I can recognize a great deal of heart and effort that went into producing The Rehearsal. If this is not your world, it certainly worth giving the series a chance and like any painting, you’re either going to like it or not. You’ll either stick with it or move on. Writer/director/star Jaclyn Bethany’s pilot is brilliantly structured, not only meeting the requirements of a perfect pilot but adds that important twist/reveal at the end to entice you to watch the next episode.
"…created a world that is specific and authentic to the world of acting and theater..."