Last night, we had our first read-through/sing-through of the show, and it was a real blast. It was the first time we'd had the whole cast together, because Margeau (Marie LaSalle) has been in another show (Caucasian Chalk Circle, which I saw Sunday and really enjoyed) and she joined us for the first time last night. (And by the way, she and Lori sound amazing together on "Ready to Settle.")
More than ever, I feel so great about this cast, about the leads, the ensemble, all of 'em. They really understand this show and this music, and I think they're ready and willing to go on this adventure with me. We're going to be approaching the show very differently from the original, far more conceptual, far more "alternative," which is what I think this material deserved from the beginning. With no serious commercial forces bearing down on us, we are way more free than the Broadway company to let this show be as quirky and unusual as it is.
It's always cool to hear the script and score in our voices for the first time, but last night was particularly cool because this is such a well-wrought piece of theatre. It moves like a freight train, only rarely stopping to breathe. Almost every scene transitions directly into the next, enough so that I doubt we're going to use most of the scene change music written for the original production (which had giant, obnoxious, inappropriate sets).
The show is also incredibly funny, both smart and smartass, and surprisingly intense here and there. The writers, Tom Kitt (composer), Amanda Green (lyricist), and David Linsday-Abaire (bookwriter) haven't just written a "clever" show; it's far more than that. They have given us moments in this show of genuine emotional pain, very real, truthful moments that just break your heart. Even just sitting around reading it, the scene in which Anna brings Dick a John Tesh CD and he callously rejects her gift, is so painful, and it's such a beautiful example of how ballsy this show is. Our heroes can be real dicks sometimes (no pun intended). These are complicated, nuanced characters that are fully worthy of the great novel from whence they came.
I can't wait to put this in front of an audience!
The one drawback comes from the coolest thing of all. New Line is the first company to produce the show after Broadway, but that means none of the materials have been "prepared" for further productions. There are scribbled notes all over the music, our actors have to work from the full piano/conductor score since there are no chorus books, and the script, score, and original cast recording often disagree!
It's a bit confusing, but it also reminds us over and over that we're the first ones to produce this wonderful piece since its ill-fated bow on the Great White (Tourist's) Way. And that's pretty damn cool. Whatever hassles are involved, though, they are sooooo worth it since we get to live inside this rich, complex piece of theatre for the next few months... I just know we're going to do it justice.
Long Live the Musical!