Someone Tell the Story

Why You Don't Want to Run a Theatre Company. Lesson One.

So a couple weeks ago, we found out the guy playing Guiteau wouldn't be able to do the show. Luckily we had already talked about Zak, one of the ensemble guys, for that role early on, so I asked him if he'd step into it, and he was happy to do so. Aaron Lawson, who had done our last two shows, stepped into Zak's old spot. Problem solved. With minimal disruption.

And then, one of the other ensemble guys had a death in the family and had to drop out to take care of family business. We talked about it at length and decided we didn't have to replace him. With only minor adjustments, we reduced the ensemble for five to four. I doubt the audience will ever even guess there used to be one more. Unless they're reading this.

Then a couple nights ago, we found out the guy playing the Balladeer has a conflict with another show and can't be at all our performances. With enormous reluctance, we decided there was no good way to deal with that (companies our size don't have understudies, and we can't ask someone to learn a role that large just to do it once or twice).

So last night, I conferred with Alison, a New Line board member, my personal sounding board, and also someone who directed this show with me back in 1998. We decided that Andrew Keller, another of the ensemble guys, is capable of handling the Balladeer. So I had him sing through some of the relevant songs for me, to make sure everything would be cool, and I offered him the part.

But we can't reduce the ensemble any more, so we needed a replacement for Andrew. Lucky for me, John Sparger, one of my best friends in the world -- who also happens to be an incredible performer -- is moving back here from Kansas City. I called him and asked if he would jump into the ensemble the minute he returns. Lucky for me, Sparger loves me and said yes. He usually plays leads for us (Berger in Hair, Jesus and Judas alternating in Jesus Christ Superstar, and Johnny in Johnny Appleweed), but he is virtually ego-free and an incredible friend, so he said he'd be happy to step in...

(Because of the complexities of the rehearsal schedule and Sparger's timing getting back to the Lou, if we had asked him to do the Balladeer, it would've been a much bigger headache, and we'd've had too many rehearsals without the show's narrator, but having him in the ensemble creates almost no problems at all.)

So once again the Force is back in balance. At least as it applies to New Line's spring show.

And this is why you never want to run a theatre company. Trust me on this. Now excuse me while I go pop another Pepcid.

Long Live the Musical!