As of Saturday, we will be into Hell Week. A lighting cue-to-cue rehearsal Saturday, the sitzprobe (first rehearsal with the band) Sunday, run-throughs on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, and performances Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Today's our last day off for a while.
But this past week has been so cool. The show has really found itself, its style, the way it moves. Usually at this point I'd be watching run-throughs, taking notes, polishing things, solving the small problems that still remain. But I'm playing keyboard for this show, so I can't do that. Luckily, Alison, our assistant director, is a genius at polishing. She and I have directed together before and we always fall into the natural roles of me being the big picture person and her being the detail person.
Also, this time, our stage manager Trish has videotaped some of our rehearsals, so I can watch them later and take some notes. Although you certainly lose something watching live performance on video, it has the unexpected advantage of the pause button... makes it much easier to take notes...
The show itself is positively racing forward. Every rehearsal seems so much better than the last now. I think we're finally to the point where the cast is really comfortable with 90% of the score (which is a hell of a feat, let me tell you), and that means that the majority of their focus is now solidly on character, emotion, relationships, backstory, and the story's ever-changing emotional chess games.
Although I didn't do it consciously, I notice now that because there's so much music in the show (it's almost a jazz opera), my instinct was to essentially choreograph the entire show. I didn't realize I was doing that, but almost all the staging is tied to music cues, and it's very expressive, non-naturalistic, sometimes even abstract staging. And I think it really fits and compliments Robin's amazing choreography. I'm happy to report, now that I've seen the show running on all cylinders, that my instincts were really right. I'm not sure exactly how the original production moved but our production sure works.
There's already such energy onstage, such life. The actors have really filled in the colors and shadows, and this is a cast with outstanding instincts when it comes to the balance and composition of the stage. And it looks to me like they all fully understand the style of the piece now, the size of it, the rowdiness and vulgarity of it, and the deep, profound emotion of it. The cast has become this wonderfully quirky "orchestra" in the way they all work together, work off each other, listen to each other, feed off each other. It's a real joy to watch.
And we still have three more run-throughs, so it's only gonna get better!
And holy shit -- did I mention the ending! Even on an unpainted set, under work lights, the end of this show is already so powerful. When I played the last note last night, there was this silence for a few seconds before anyone said anything. I think we were all a little surprised at the force and emotion of that finale.
I love this cast and I love our production. I can't wait to share it with our audience.
Long Live the Musical!