Quite Detailed and Lengthy Too

We had our second full run-through tonight, and... wow, what a difference! It was a completely different show tonight, which I'm assuming was in large part because everyone's pretty solidly off book now and focusing their attentions much less on technical shit and much more on character, relationships, and story. Almost overnight, Rob (Jeff Wright) was so much realer, more complicated, his emotions more raw, more naked, more out of his control. We saw his sense of humor become less about funny lines and more about Rob's worldview. We saw little flare-ups of anger that weren't there before but feel so organic to the story. We saw pain and vulnerability and confusion...

Bravo, Jeffrey!

From what I could tell emailing back and forth with them, I think the creators of the show feel pretty happy with the original production, but the more we work on the show, the less I like the Broadway production. I feel like it always danced around the most painful emotions. I want to tackle those emotions head-on -- it's the show's (and novel's) brutal, naked honesty that gives it such balls and such rock and roll cred. There are moments in the show that should make the audience incredibly uncomfortable because they're so real and so universal, and that's what makes great theatre.

Sitcoms are safe; theatre should be an adventure.

Also, I was reading online some reviews of the Broadway production, and several of them complained that the role of Laura was underwritten, that we don't spend enough time with her, etc. What none of them understood is that this isn't a story about Rob and Laura; it's a story about Rob. And I think the original production tried too hard -- in this regard but also in others -- to make it a musical comedy and to make it a love story. And it's just not. And neither were the novel or film.

This is a story about a guy becoming a man, changing, growing up, putting others before himself. It's not a story of boy-loses-girl, boy-gets-girl. It's not Anything Goes. (Which I love, by the way, but this ain't that.)

One way we're (hopefully) solving that problem is that Rob never leaves the stage in our production. Since everything happens in his head -- memory, flashback, fantasy, dream -- it seemed important to me that Rob be ever present. It sucks a little for Jeff, having no down time, but I think it will help audiences not to jump to the conclusion that this is a love story. They say there are three kinds of conlifct in drama: man vs. man, man vs. society, and man vs. himself. This story is man vs. himself. It's an entirely interior journey (kinda like when Luke went to Dagobah and went underground and did battle with Vader, and when he took off Vader's helmet, it was LUKE!!). But I digress...

Tonight, I got a little glimpse of what this show will be like when we open in two weeks, and I love what I see...

Long Live the Musical!