Archive for October, 2008
…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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.