Archive for October, 2008

Opening Night Was…

Posted in Uncategorized on October 31, 2008 by darylfazio

spec-tac-u-lar.

Opening Night

Posted in General on October 30, 2008 by darylfazio

…is tonight. And the joy I get from watching the joy taking place onstage is not possible to express with words. POPart, The Musical at Coastal Carolina University is a workshop, which means it’s finding its legs, not taking its final bow. Are there things that Monica, Aaron, and I are already talking about changing in a rewrite? Absolutement. Does that alter the importance of the work done over the past few weeks by 25 talented kids? Nope, it makes it even more important.

Does that alter the fun preview audiences have already had watching the production? Nope, not one iota.

So thanks, performers. You ALL crack me up. You ALL give it 110. Keep sharin’ the love.

And Amanda? Just remember I was NOT the one who gave you all the running and climbing to do during “Blow-by-Blow”, the wordiest song on Earth. You’re handling it like a trooper.

Kitty sings of art changing her world during "I Blend In"

Kitty sings of art changing her world during "I Blend In"

The Picasso Gang does not impress actor, Sly McCoy

The Picasso Gang does not impress actor, Sly McCoy

Transition out of the gang introductions

Transition out of the gang introductions

Tech it away

Posted in Design on October 26, 2008 by darylfazio

Is it possible for a show to have MORE tech? It seems doubtful. The set and lights are really bringing the show the visual edge it needed–the colors are stunning and the whole stage picture has a retro vibe I really like. The projections aren’t in yet, but the levels are, as well as some of the Jasper Johns-esque set pieces. And that G.A.S. (Ghetto Art School) sign gives me goosebumps because it’s like someone’s inside my brain. Wait until you see it lit. The sign. Not my brain.

Light cues are being set for "Shine, Kitty, Shine"

Light cues are being set for "Shine, Kitty, Shine"

The art school gangs introduce themselves...

The art school gangs introduce themselves...

Go ahead, make my day

Posted in Uncategorized on October 21, 2008 by darylfazio

Clint Eastwood said that with a sneer. I say it, face dead-pan, arms crossed tightly over my chest, to my own book and lyrics as I prepare to watch another run-through on Monday night. Prove yourself, POPart. I am not easily impressed. And I’m no mood for your crap.

That was around 7:47 pm. By 8:30 pm, my tough outer shell was starting to disintegrate in spite of itself And by 9:15, I was a warm pool of goofy good vibes.

Does that mean the show is a success? It’s true I see an edge here and there I’d like to do some mild sanding to, script-wise (right now, I’m obsessing a little over the set-up for “Watch the Birdy”). And there is still the occasional joke that doesn’t land the way I’d hoped (Monica continues to direct them into new ways of delivery and approach and to show ME new ways of thinking about the words, so I’m content to let it evolve). But if the test is in its ability to make you laugh no matter what s*$#! you brought with you into the theater, then I say it’s road-ready.

Of course, it’s due in no small part to the fact that the kids are having a ball on stage. A couple of them remarked last night, “This show is SOOOO much fun to do” (thanks Matt and Evan—you’re pretty bleepin’ fun to watch). And I don’t think they were merely blowing Van Gogh’s sunflowers up my bum. The cast IS an ensemble now, in all their collective cornball-i-ness (thank Zeus for cornballs!). Getting to run the show every night is the pay-off to the hard march they made to get here.

The Trio

Posted in The Cast on October 18, 2008 by darylfazio

Here’s a picture I took of the cast’s core, made up of Kitty (Amanda Jeter), Toni-O (Jamie Wells), and Edward (Townsend Pass), as they work on “Without Us” with musical director/composer, Aaron McAllister.

It’s been rewarding to see their bond develop. That bond is the heart of the show.

Kitty, Toni-O, and Edward rehearse.

Kitty (Amanda Jeter), Toni-O (Jamie Wells, wearing Toni-O's scarf as a turban), and Edward (Townsend Pass) rehearse.

The “Critique Mystique” question

Posted in Writing on October 17, 2008 by darylfazio

So I mentioned in an earlier post that I was on the fence about “Critique Mystique” and its necessity in the show. It took Aaron’s insight to show me the song’s purpose. As Aaron put it, this is the first time since “Shine, Kitty, Shine” that we hear Kitty’s individual voice, how she’s processing what’s happened and is happening. And we won’t hear it again until “Committed”, when she finally makes it over the hill of doubt.

He’s absolutely right, especially now that we’re doing the show in two acts. The audience has been bombarded by the teachers, the outside looking in. Now we need the inside looking out.

Kitty’s insides.

Tunnels and Light

Posted in Uncategorized on October 16, 2008 by darylfazio

I took a few nights off from rehearsal. We’d gone through all the material at least once by last Sunday. I’d tweaked a few small things and one big thing. And it was time to let the actors and directors have some time to themselves. I could feel myself getting antsy–that certain sections of text weren’t flowing the way I’d hoped, that some characterizations weren’t communicating, that we kept getting bogged down in remembering choreography. And I couldn’t tell how much of it was something I needed to fix in the script. Or how much of it was just the performers needing more time to live inside the material. What is this thing I wrote? I kept asking myself. So I gave them space to find out.

Well, holy macaroni. They did the first run-through last night. And to quote director, Monica Bell, Ladies and gentlemen, “We have a play.” Who knows exactly what pushes on-stage energy to a new level, what makes an ensemble out of a bunch of individuals, what drives completely new character choices, what suddenly allows things that had before been fractured pieces to become seamless.

I DO know it’s freakin’ magic. And for all of us, not a moment too soon. The kids were phenomenal (some particularly big leaps taken by Kitty and Toni-O; and Edward did some brilliant onstage business with his headlamp in the SHoHo scene) and, with two weeks left, I can’t wait to see where this new confidence in the piece and themselves will take it.

As for rewrites, I took ample notes, but the majority had to do with tiny shifts (like having Toni-O announce the gangs BEFORE they sing so the audience gets the connection). A few had to do with the necessity of some lines (Monica and I agreed to keep them, to see if some tighter comic timing won’t correct the issues). And the bigger ones were character notes and questions to myself that will not be addressed for this workshop, but perhaps in a subsequent draft.

The bad news is, I was so entranced by the performance that I didn’t take a single picture.

Costumes Are Cool

Posted in Design on October 9, 2008 by darylfazio

I always deliver on my promises. So here are some costume sketches, provided by Eric Hall, who read my mind and threw plenty of his own in there too. Looking at these makes it hard for me to wait for the show.

Kitty Katz, at the SHoHo show

Kitty Katz, at the SHoHo show

Edward, the paint-eater

Edward, the paint-eater

Father and Mr. Sorenson

Father and Mr. Sorenson

The art school gangs, sporting the colors of their inspirations.

The art school gangs, sporting their colors.

“Crit This”

Posted in Uncategorized on October 9, 2008 by darylfazio

Here’s a video tidbit of our first staging rehearsal of “Crit This.” Note the homage to Busbee Berkeley using empty canvas frames.

The Halfway Point

Posted in General on October 8, 2008 by darylfazio

Ah, yes, a red-letter day on Monday. We started Act 2! In the opening of the act and one of the longest scenes in the show, Kitty tries to paint and discovers she’s lost her inspiration.

The students in the background were doing some inspired improv as pretentious student artists summoning the art gods or painting one dot at a time, taking a step back, paining another dot, taking another step back. There was a lot of “playing” going on all night, and it was the FIRST time we were doing this material. I was very proud of them, and I got a helpful indication about dialogue quality and whether anything needed to change or be chucked out. Which it mostly didn’t. I wasn’t sure how the bit about Toni-O’s supposed abstract painting looking like hearts and puppies and baby seals would fly. It was a big change in this latest draft, as Toni-O’s character had previously been androgynous and painted portraiture in which we could never identify the sex of the subject. I like the new touchy-feely stuff and what the actor did with it. I think we’ll keep it.

Then we did “Critique Mystique.” I love the funk quality of the music. And the performers were really selling it. But I’m still not sure how necessary the song is. It seems repetitive of Kitty and Toni-O’s duet in Act 1 and also, to some degree, the next song, “Crit This!”

Speaking of “Crit This!”, we worked that last night. I’ve got pictures here of what I call “the empty frame dance.” Some great visuals that Barbara and Monica have put together. If only REAL critiques were this full of life and dance.

The "Crit This!" line-up.

The "Crit This!" line-up.

Edward leads the critique charge with the biggest painting of all.

Edward leads the critique charge with the biggest painting of all.