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Rita's big break: the making of the Entourage video

posted by Cari Turley on Mon, Dec 12, 2011
in At the theatre , Backstage buzz

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It's not every day you get to write a script for Rita Moreno.

Perhaps you've heard of her? Before her star-making turn in "Bring your Entourage to Berkeley Rep," Ms. Moreno appeared in a handful of smaller films like West Side Story, The King and I, and The Ritz. OK, I kid. Obviously, Rita was a huge star well before we talked her into appearing in our video, but now I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's back up.

Here at Berkeley Rep, we have this amazing program that no one's ever heard of. It's called Entourage. Here's how it works: if we've got a show that you want to share with 10 or more people, we'll send you a discount code for 20% off. You don't all have to come on the same day, and we'll even waive everyone's service fees. Even better, if you can get 15 or more people to come, we'll give you a free ticket to a future show. Basically, you help us spread the word, and we'll make sure you and your friends save big. Win-win.

Or, if you prefer your information in cheesy, black-and-white video format:

Sounds awesome, right? We here in the marketing department were bummed that no one seemed to know about the program, so we decided to make a video to get the word out. We gave ourselves a comfortable schedule to make a storyboard, write a script, and look for filming locations...and then someone suggested asking Rita Moreno (who was here performing Life Without Makeup) if she'd like to make a cameo. Miraculously, she said yes. But since her show was ending in two days, our two-week timeline was out the window. If it was going to happen, we had to do this thing today.

And that's how I ended up writing a script to pitch to an Oscar winner in 15 minutes. Once that was done, we went to the theatre, grabbed as many "volunteers" as we could find, and knocked on Rita's dressing room door.

Boy, was that a terrifying moment. Here I am, some nobody, asking the great Rita Moreno to perform in some ludicrous scene that I wrote. I'm not a screenwriter! I'm not even a regular writer! And then, as if that wasn't frightening enough, I had to act in the scene with her. Look, I was a drama major in college, and I used to dream about this kind of opportunity. But you never expect it to happen with so little warning. I mean, shouldn't I have gotten a few weeks to prepare myself for this? Shouldn't I at least have brushed my hair?

Naturally, it took about three seconds for me to ruin the first take. Mortified, I tried again...and this time Rita tripped over her lines, made a joke about it, and just like that the tension broke. (Stars: they're just like us!) After that, it was just fun. She was an incredibly good sport, as were all the other Berkeley Rep staffers we coerced into performing. The whole thing was over in an hour.

At the end of our adventure in filmmaking, we were left with this little gem. Check it out, and if it sounds like something you might want to do, why don't you get in touch? (I promise I'm not quite as, uh, effusive in person.)

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