Last night, the 181-member cast for the “Odyssey” convened for the only dress rehearsal it gets for tonight’s opening night production at The Old Globe. During a break in Wednesday afternoon’s green-wig-infused logistics rehearsal, I had a chance to chat with Lear deBessonet, who’s directing the play, for a few minutes.

I wanted to know: After all of the potential surprises you’ve baked into this experiment with engaging so many community groups, has anything surprised you this week?

“There is one thing I forgot to anticipate,” deBessonet said.

She took me back to the potluck dinner that kicked off this effort. The elevators carried people from a handful of community groups down to the Globe’s basement rehearsal space. They brought dishes of food to share, and met the people around them, but many of them sat in the groups of people they’d come with.

“Our tendency is to stick to demographics,” she said. “So that night, I was watching to see if anyone was eating alone, making sure everyone had someone to talk to.”

But in the chaos of this final week of rehearsals, “I can’t be doing that,” she said.

So it thrilled her the other day to walk outside during a break, where people were sitting around eating lunch. She saw a clump of people here of different ages and neighborhoods and inherent acting ability, another clump there. There was no obvious demographic separation.

“Literally a potpourri,” she said. “This is the overwhelming ethos of this production.”

The lines are blurring between the groups who came in to this play as they work to tell this story together. Culture Shock hip-hop dance troupe and high school kids and a park ranger and ladies who fundraise for the Globe and guys who came from the local YMCA and the St. Stephen’s church choir. People who’ve been able to be at more rehearsals are helping remind their compatriots of cues and entrances. The churches involved are using their vans to help people get to rehearsals.

“They are really taking care of each other,” she said.

Now I’m the one remembering something from that night at the potluck dinner. DeBessonet stood up and faced the room full of people, each one embodying myriad details and logistics for her to figure out over the following month.

“What we’re proposing with this play is a vision of a unified, joyful city,” she said. “A place where we can celebrate each other.”

Tonight is the first night of the show. I asked deBessonet: What do you think you’ll think when you wake up on Friday morning?

“‘Wake up’ implies that I’ve slept,” she said, laughing. That’s probably not a joke.

Catch Up on Our “Odyssey” Coverage

• The first official get-together was a potluck dinner.

• The blackout pushed one rehearsal outdoors.

• Director Lear deBessonet told the group to imagine the individual personality they’re playing, all of whom combined make up the town.

• The cast of 181 comprises newbies and lifers, including the woman for whose husband the Globe’s outdoor stage is named.

• Being at the rehearsal where the St. Stephen’s church choir joined the ensemble for the first time made me wonder about all of the other magic that gets created in Balboa Park’s basements.

• VIDEO: St. Stephen’s church choir joined the rehearsal to become the voice of Athena.

• Sirens don turquoise gowns and green wigs and excitement builds for novices and theater pros alike in last days of rehearsals.

I’m Kelly Bennett, the arts editor for VOSD. You can reach me directly at or 619.325.0531.

And follow Behind the Scene on Facebook.

Kelly Bennett

Kelly Bennett is a former staff writer for Voice of San Diego.

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