It's only been a few days since I last posted but so much has happened! Not the least of which is that we wrestled with the AC and won! Just in time for 60 degree weather... That's okay, I'll take my victories where I can get 'em.
I last posted on last Monday. We had a relatively smooth Hell Week -- there was still lots of work to do, but no big crises, no last minute disasters. We needed those three run-throughs in a row with all the production elements -- two probably wouldn't have been enough -- but we were ready by Thursday night's preview. The show went great, and though I think the actors may have felt a tad shaky here and there, I was very happy. And then it got better Friday, and even better on Saturday. As with any show, the presence of the audience gives the actors that final jolt of energy. They are the final piece in the ritual of storytelling.
I can't put into words how proud I am of this show. Part of it is because it's been so incredibly difficult and we've really conquered it. But a big part is that we took this challenging and brilliant piece of art, and we assembled a big group of really talented people, and we all worked our asses off, and the end product is a thing of real beauty and real truth.
Sure, the characters are small and selfish and petty and morally ugly, but they are also tragically, fatally human. The style of the storytelling here is melodrama, but the emotions are so honest and the insights into human weakness and fear are are as truthful as theatre gets. Someone said to me that none of these characters are sympathetic. I think all four of them are. None of them are randomly cruel; all of them are desperately damaged people thrashing around in the dark, no idea how to find the light. They're all appetite and desire, but none of them really knows what they want or need. And as easily as we may condemn them for their abuses and insults, I'll bet most of us can see at least a little of ourselves in these sad characters.
For me, watching The Wild Party is like watching a play by Albee or Miller or O'Neill. It's really dark shit, but it's the spiritual/emotional equivalent of a horror story. Instead of a vampire representing our uncontrollable sexual drives, here the sexual drives are the monsters themselves, cutting the middle man out. Instead of a wolfman representing our savage animal side, in this tale the beast within needs no metaphor; he's right there on the surface. Storytelling like that allows us to explore the darker corners of our own souls in the safety of a darkened theatre.
But I think we've really freaked out some of the reviewers with the aggressiveness and intensity (and sexuality) of this show. Several of our reviews so far have been odd. Not really negative, but odd. Except for Chris Gibson, who reviews for BroadwayWorld.com, who gave us a real rave review. He really understood the piece and our approach to it. This may be one of those shows that someone people fall in love with and others are made too uncomfortable or overwhelmed by it. I think that was true of both A New Brain and Anyone Can Whistle. But that's okay.
Alison did an awesome job of finishing the polishing without me during Hell Week when I moved into the band. Luckily for me, Trish videotaped several of the last rehearsals so I could watch them later and see if there were any notes I wanted to give the cast. So even though I haven't seen the final product from the front, I have seen the last step before the final product. And I really love it! We haven't had this kind of energy in a show in a long time. It's so fluid, so confident, so organic. Almost the whole show feels choreographed. And even though it's a fairly involved story and cast of characters, the plot really seems clear.
This cast is just stupendous. One of the reasons I've been afraid of producing this show up till now is that I knew I needed a cast of sixteen really outstanding performers. There was no room in this show for anyone less than excellent. And sometimes it's hard to get that with a cast this big. But we really hit a home run. Every single actor on our stage is bringing their A game, and even though this is a monstrously difficult show, they are all up to it. And we proved it this weekend.
We blew the fucking lid off that theatre, and we'll do it again this week. :)
Long Live the Musical!