Smilin' T'wards the Dawn

Rehearsals are going great. We've finished blocking Act I and we're about a third of the way through Act II. We ran Act I all together one night last week, and it really works! The transitions between scenes are so smooth and so organic -- most of the credit for that goes to the writers, of course, but we're doing a hell of a job too. This is one of those shows that will be a real roller coaster ride, never giving the audience too much time to stop and "judge" what's happening, and therefore, putting them in Rob's shoes.

I may have mentioned this earlier in my blogging, but I went to the writers a while back and asked if they would restore the song "Too Tired," which they cut from the show before it opened in New York, although they did include it as a bonus track on the cast album. Tom Kitt (composer) and Amanda Green (lyricist) are both incredibly cool and have been so helpful, which is important since we're the first company to do the show since its Broadway run, so the materials have never been "prepared" for later productions. The three of us have had a fairly lengthy email conversation about putting "Too Tired" back in the show. I think they both like the song a lot (they included it on the CD, so they must). It was written for the funeral scene late in Act II, but I want to put it into the final scene, as Rob and Laura's final resolution.

As the show stands now, in the middle of the finale, "Turn the World Off," there is underscoring as Laura shows up and she and Rob sort of make peace and decide to try their relationship again. On Broadway, they did some dialogue then sang a reprise of "Laura, Laura," which then segued back into "Turn the World Off." It works fine, but it feels to me too much like a Happy Ending, and I don't think High Fidelity is the kind of show that should have a clear Happy Ending. Rob and Laura are getting back together, sure, but do we really know if they'll be okay? Of course we don't. It's like the end of Company -- the right path has probably been chosen, but we have no way of knowing what lies ahead on that path. Have these two people really grown enough that things will be significantly different between them now? Do they really even belong together? We've spent 95% of the story watching them be apart. Who knows if they'll be good together this time?

And that ambiguity makes for good, intelligent, adult theatre.

But the "Laura, Laura" reprise undermines that very real-world ambiguity a little bit. And I think putting "Too Tired" into that spot gives the story a more realistic ending. After the complexity of this story, tying up the loose ends too completely doesn't feel entirely truthful.

So I presented Tom and Amanda with a lengthy manifesto about why I think they should put "Too Tired" into the finale, and to their credit, they really gave it serious thought. But Tom didn't see a clear way to make this change without major rewrites. They finally came back and said that if we wanted to do this, we should put it in the way we want and record it for them, so they could hear exactly what we intended to do, in context. Then they would make a decision.

So we did exactly that on Tuesday. I figured out a way to segue from the existing underscoring into "Too Tired" and back into "Turn the World Off," I taught it to the actors, and we recorded it. I'll send the audio file to the writers now and whatever they decide we'll abide by it. After all, no matter how good I think my ideas are, it is their show...

There are two things about all this that are so cool. First, it's amazing that the writers are open to our ideas and are willing to consider our proposal. Second, it's even cooler that I get to talk to them on an ongoing basis while we work on their show, that I get to ask them questions, etc. We're very lucky that we get to do this periodically when we do a newer show -- I got to talk to Jason Robert Brown about Songs for a New World, Adam Guettel about Floyd Collins, and most fun for me, I got to talk a lot to Larry O'Keefe, Brian Flemming, and Keythe Farley about their masterpiece Bat Boy.

I've said it before and I'll say it again -- I love my job. I'll let you know what Tom and Amanda say about "Too Tired." How cool will that be if we get to make the stage debut of this great song???

Long Live the Musical!