It's been just a few days since we closed Return to the Forbidden Planet, and it's also just a few days until we go into rehearsal for Spelling Bee. I will miss RTTFP something awful -- it was one of the most fun, most enjoyable theatre experiences I've had -- but I can't wait to get into Spelling Bee.
Nick (who will play Barfee) and I were talking a few nights ago about doing A New Brain back in 2002, and what a joy it was to walk around for all those weeks with that beautiful, amazing music in our heads. As Sondheim has said, living in music is a gift from God. Particularly William Finn's music. Deborah (who will play Miss Peretti) and I worked together on March of the Falsettos, another Finn gem, years ago, and she also was in A New Brain. I believe the rest of our Spelling Bee cast is new to Finn. What a fun ride they have ahead.
In a weird way, tonight sort of launches the fun -- a few of us are getting together to watch the finals of the Scripps National Spelling Bee. I was watching the semi-finals this morning and it's so cool how exactly right the musical gets the kids, the process, the atmosphere, the parents, the suspense, the joy, the agony. I could see several of the show characters in these real-life kid spellers. I think it will help the actors a lot to see the real Bee.
I've been playing through the score a lot this week, trying to get it in my fingers. Finn's music is such a fucking joy to play! It just feels good in your fingers -- like the music of Jason Robert Brown, Larry O'Keefe, and Adam Guettel. Playing this score is a lot like speaking really brilliant dialogue -- it's a gigantic pleasure and you can't help but feel lucky that you get to roll around inside this kick-ass music. It's not the feeling you get from playing less artful scores like Damn Yankees or The Sound of Music or Wicked.
At long last, after decades of divorce, musical theatre and pop/rock are reuniting in a meaningful way, with exceptional scores like Hedwig, Bat Boy, High Fidelity, Songs for a New World, In the Heights, Spring Awakening, Next to Normal, and plenty of others. (You'll notice I am not including calculated, unartful dreck like The Full Monty, Wicked, or Billy Elliot.)
We have an amazing cast for this show, terrific designers, and brilliant material. With the intelligence and crazed energy we bring to almost all our shows, this should prove to be quite a potent cocktail. As I wrote on our Spelling Bee webpage, you'll laugh your ass off and then spend the next week on your therapist's couch. Believe me, if you only saw this show at the cavernous Fox Theatre, then you haven't really seen Spelling Bee...
I'll keep you posted...
Long Live the Musical!