“snowed-under” day

Posted in NYMF, Writing on September 8, 2010 by darylfazio

I had a Sophie’s choice (what? too soon?) today where it was either rehearsal or play catch-up with the real world. I chose the latter, since I’ve been footing some of the bill for this show myself, and folks gotta get paid. However, I also did some rewrites that give me a sense of satisfaction. Most notably the end speeches by Dr. Bore and a streamlining of Kitty and Toni-O’s first meeting. Jeez, I can be long-winded. I don’t mean now, I mean…in…the…script. And…maybe now.

The report from heir director is that the first day of staging went off like firecrackers. DJ, our choreographer, made I BLEND IN into a sort of physical ode to the ordinary, so that Kitty could, well, blend in. I hear things about brushing teeth and walking dogs. And some choreo that was so enthusiastic, it had the women worried about a wardrobe malfunction. Costume designer, the incomparable David Zyla, texted from Los Angeles (and, one presumes, the set of the soap opera he costumes; note my tone as I try unsuccessfully to avoid sounding star-struck; the fact that he got Armani Exchange to donate all the duds for the art students might also have something to do with it) and gently put those concerns to rest. I’ll get to see all this movement for myself on Sunday when they do a stumble-through of that scene plus the other four they’ll stage over the next few days.

On to SMELLS LIKE ART tomorrow, starting off with a “character chat” with Zach Clause, our Toni-O. I love chats.

You know what rhymes with chat? Rat. And I saw one running up and down the exterior window frame of a restaurant I was dining in on 9th Ave. Now THAT smells like art.

Read it and weep.

Posted in NYMF, Writing on September 7, 2010 by darylfazio

We read it. The whole thing. Sang it too. No weeping. From start to finish.

The entire cast was in the same room today. Reading and singing and not weeping. It was a beautiful thing. Not the show yet, since this was the first time reading the thing at all for a few of our cast, and there’s a helluva lot happening in this musical at all times. But the promise it holds makes me feel like I’m running through a field of daisies. And perhaps being pursued by a human-sized copy of the libretto with little feet sticking out from the bottom of the plastic black binder.

So, yeah, mixed feelings. Great ones about the cast, chosen by me and Chad and Aaron and DJ (our choreographer) with such care and thought, so we could watch talent and fearlessness oozing from their pores. Tim Warmen, you’re a beast. Josh Powell, holy smokes. Zach Clause, you break my heart and bust my gut simultaneously. Cyrilla Baer, there are no words. Marla Mindelle, if I were drinking milk while you were singing, it would be coming out of my nose. I could go on and on and on and on. But won’t just yet.

The new Act II opener is a winner (guttural “uh”s make anything good, don’t they?), for sure, though. And the whole piece is feeling sleek and trim.

The flip-side of my feelings aren’t bad ones, just questions. We have some work to do on those art gangs (did I mention there are gangs in POPart who worship Michelangelo, Rothko and O’Keeffe and use that as a reason to confront and rumble with each other? does that give you pause, dear reader?) to get them to fit more snugly into the proceedings. And I’m wondering also about the epilogues.

The work is the point, of course. The actors are clearly ready to bring everything they’ve got. It humbles me, and it makes me damn-well responsible for ensuring the libretto can take it over the next three weeks and six performances.

And if there’s any weeping (and maybe a little peeing), let’s hope it’s the kind that’s squeezed out by way too much laughing.

Don’t feed the actors.

Posted in NYMF on September 3, 2010 by darylfazio

Today, with my little digital camera poised gleefully at the rehearsal scene, I was informed that Actors’ Equity won’t let me take photos of their union members. Even though when I saw our Kitty, Edward and Toni-O sitting in a row together for the first time, it was like witnessing the planets align. You’ll just have to take my word for it.

Since this is a show about art, I’m contemplating some court reporter-style drawings. Perhaps one during each rehearsal.

None today though.

I was too busy enjoying a discussion with Jason Michael Snow (and director Chad and MD Andrew) about exactly what IS on Edward’s mind during WATCH THE BIRDY. Jason’s crystalline tenor soars and explores the depths at the same time. Perfect for Edward’s light-meets-dark approach to life. Bring on the revelations! I expect a few over the coming weeks (which is why a printer will be present in every rehearsal, so I can crank out rewrites if the revelations reveal the presence of crappiness).

Many other songs were learned and sung, as Jason was joined by Jillian and Zach, then the ensemble. They sat within the taped-out lines of our staging area, while the real set materialized (in panels of urban faux-brick on one side and vivid artwork on the other) over in a corner of the room. Yep, the set was delivered today, just as Chad said it always would be, so that the actors can learn to play nicely with it, shaping spaces by shifting them on casters.

We start staging on Tuesday. That’s when the pedal hits the metal, as Kitty would say. That’s when it’s not just words anymore, it’s action.

Minus the camera.

A first day

Posted in Uncategorized on September 2, 2010 by darylfazio

Today it began. Talented, interesting human beings we chose to play fake but interesting characters gathered in a room on West 48th Street, between 8th and 9th Ave., and learned songs from POPart so they can, in three weeks time, open a show.

Thank you for your work today, Holly, Jamaal, Amanda, Rachel, Josh, Justin, Jose, Marla, Zach, Jason and Jillian, led by musical director, Andrew. There’s nothing more satisfying than watching people do what they do best.

Tomorrow more music. A quick break for Labor Day and Hurricane Earl. Then Tuesday we’ll strap on our water wings and move onto the on-your-feet stuff, scene work, character work, and putting the whole mish-mash together.

I’ve been in New York since Sunday (today being Thursday). I’ve pseudo-mastered the subway and obscuring my yokel-ness. I’ve seen the MoMA (the POPart and Contemporary floor was closed for renovations; yes, the entire floor) and the Guggenheim. I’ve seen a 70-year old sinewy bald man carrying a Yorkshire terrier in a pink snuggly on his chest. And I’ve just seen my libretto take its first breath as part of the New York Musical Theatre Festival.

Life. Is. Being. Alive.

http://www.popartthemusical.com
http://www.nymf.org

Real people playing fake ones…

Posted in General, NYMF, The Cast, Writing on July 20, 2010 by darylfazio

I was an acting major as an undergrad. I survived the degree but washed out of the real-world part. It ain’t no place for sissies. Pros, I bow to you and kiss your toe ring.

Now I find myself, for the first time, on the other side of a professional audition process. And it’s not just intriguing from the former-auditionee perspective, but also from the writer one. Because I created all these fake people, and now we have to choose flesh-and-blood ones to “be” them.

It’s daunting and life-altering. So much talent (we’ve all heard the statistics of the actor-to-job ratio; you actor people, honestly, please don’t ever get a CAT scan, because then we’ll find out you all have brains that need to be studied by science, and live theatre will go the way of the dodo bird). So many expectations, on either side, of what and who this is we’ll be making. We don’t know who you are yet (callbacks will be on us in a heartbeat). But here’s to what we’ll learn and who we’ll meet. It’s the best part of this theatre thing.

I can’t wait to bake a show with some real (crazy) people.

Extreme Script Make-Over

Posted in Music, NYMF, Writing on July 15, 2010 by darylfazio

Okay, maybe not that extreme. But after insight from our dramaturg and a few creative pow-wows with director, Chad Larabee, and composer, Aaron McAllister, we have a pretty different structure and a couple of new songs. Case in point: I have written a new Act Two opener called BREAKTHROUGH. We wrap up Act One with MELTDOWN in which Kitty, you guessed it, melts down while being serenaded by Homeless Man and Woman. In BREAKTHROUGH (which has no tune as of yet–stay tuned…heh-heh…it’s percussive, hard-edge lyrics though–I was inspired by some vintage Blood, Sweat, & Tears), Toni-O and Edward lead the other students in announcements of the wonderful discoveries they’ve all been making in their artwork. While Kitty. Has none. Brief excerpt:

EDWARD
(bad-ass-like)

WE GOT SOME TECHNIQUE.
WE BEEN STEERED AND CONSTRUCTED
‘TIL THE SISSIES WE WERE
HAVE BEEN AMBUSHED, ABDUCTED.
UH!

That’s the big-ticket item. BLOW-BY-BLOW has gone away, and there’s a SHINE, KITTY, SHINE reprise now, which I’m kind of loving.

And right this moment, as I type, Chad sits in the Equity Principle Auditions for nine hours finding us some dazzling talent to help the love flow even more freely. (insert song cue here)

Waiting? Working? Whoring?

Posted in NYMF, Writing on June 20, 2010 by darylfazio

A little of all of those.

Waiting for rehearsals. Still a couple of months away. But can’t help wondering about the whole experience. Living in New York that long. Meeting the actors and making the show into something. Changing the very fabric of space and time. And eating a lot of Zen Palate (look it up).

Working on the script. Talking to our dramatug, Lisa Timmel, for the first time tomorrow morning. Making notes right now about questions to ask. Never had an “official” one of these before. Hope I don’t come off like an amateur.

Whoring around for money. My high school chorus teacher just handed me a check, and after I wanted to hug and kiss her all over, I felt sort of…like…a…money slut. God knows I should never be a producer.

Our NYMF Dramaturg

Posted in NYMF on June 7, 2010 by darylfazio

When you get a Next Link slot, NYMF treats you as though they’re the momma bird, and you’re the fledgling. They learn ya things, like marketing, ticketing, producing, and, of course, how to make your show continue to grow.

To facilitate that growth, they give us our very own dramaturg (as in someone trained in the “techniques of dramatic composition”, so sayeth Dictionary.com; dramaturgs help playwrights see their work with a clear eye; often, they give us that bit of “tough love” we need when somethin’ ain’t workin’, but we’re too attached to realize it; they can help with structure, with characterization, with language, with research).

Ours is Lisa Timmel. Continue reading

GOING TO NYMF 2010!

Posted in Uncategorized on June 1, 2010 by darylfazio

POPart is a New York Musical Theatre Festival Next Link Selection! I’ll be tracking the developments here–casting, creative, bumps, hurdles, rewrites, victories, and more.

In the meantime, if you have a few extra dollars, and you want to be a part of our show making it to the stage, visit our website for tax-deductible donation info.

And thanks to Chad Larabee (director) and Gretchen Margaroli (general manager) for taking this crazy trip with us!

All Over but the Shoutin’

Posted in Uncategorized on March 23, 2009 by darylfazio

The reading went off on Thursday without a hitch, propelled by brilliant performers in the form of the pack we threw together over three days. Many audience members said they had come to the show planning to stay only for act one (the York gets a lot of patrons of the older persuasion), but they ALL stayed. And thanks to them, some of the material I was ready to ax after it didn’t get the desired response in South Carolina is now staying in the show. They laughed. They got it. Whew.

The new material put in since the workshop has unilaterally been met with positive response. This is good to know. Another discovery is that Miss St. Helen was actually a petite white woman rather than a busty black woman. When the pipes bust out on “Art is Your Rock”, we don’t expect it from the little 5 foot redhead. We were lucky enough to add Autumn Hurlbert (of Broadway’s Legally Blonde) to the cast at the last minute (after another cast member fell ill), and she blew the roof off. Thanks again, Autumn!

And thanks to the other 15 of you New York actors and director Chad Larabee. You made our week.

Here are a few pics:

Director Chad Larabee watches as Aaron (at piano) rehearses actors at Chelsea Studios in NY.

Director Chad Larabee watches as Aaron (at piano) rehearses actors at Chelsea Studios in NY.

Monica Bell (Mother/Homeless Woman) and Scott Sowers (Father/Homeless Man) rehearse "Meltdown."

Monica Bell (Mother/Homeless Woman) and Scott Sowers (Father/Homeless Man) rehearse "Meltdown."

The ensemble and the trio work on "Blow-by-Blow."

The ensemble and the trio work on "Blow-by-Blow."

Our last day of rehearsal, this time in the York Theatre.

Our last day of rehearsal, this time in the York Theatre.