Tuesday, October 31, 2006

 

Eddie Checking In

Hi Cyberspace.

Yesterday was our day off, and D.L. Hilton told us to relax so we only worked for 10 hours. We had a run through on Sunday for designers and co. and it was our first opportunity to see a lot of the new stuff we've been piling on the cast in sequence. On the whole, we're quite pleased with the way things are going, but there's always more to do, of course.

Today was a really great day. We had a break-through of sorts with the character of the Colonel and added a bit to his entrance that really nailed down his relationship to John. It was really nuts, and I was nervous to try it, but it paid off. We could tell as we passed new pages around that it answered a lot of questions everyone had been asking. Also, the new bit, which is musical, happens about halfway through a rather long scene which lacks a "real" song, so I think it'll act as a tentpole in the structure to help move us along. I know it sounds strange, adding something to make things feel tighter, but that's how it works out sometimes.

In other news, we cut a song and are writing a new one. I'll tell ya all about it in my next post. Gotta go eat.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

 

Feeling it

Just an update on "Inside the Writers' Minds": we're Tired.

Having spent 11 days straight doing nothing but rewriting, we have to say we're a little crispy. We're very excited about everything we've done (even the big dance number that I spent the better part of a day writing that we've pretty much now decided to scrap), but each morning, it's a little harder to leave our cozy apartments and head back to the rehearsal hall. We're just now tackling some final bumpy patches, getting rid of clunky, old-fashioned transitions, newsboys yelling headlines (please stop, already, I have a headache), identifying places we need underscoring, etc. Nothing major, but it's hard to accept that the end is in sight, that we won't actually be rewriting this show until we're 50.

Today we staged the only new number we've added since we've been here, and it's making everyone cry, so I'm pretty sure it's a keeper. And, more exciting yet: I spent much of the last two days making the orchestra parts up-to-date with all the little changes we've made, and they're 95% done and being printed to give to our players this weekend! We'll be using a four-piece band: piano, bass, drums and mallets (xylophone and vibraphone), which is a combo we've used before and gives just enough period color without trying to sound like a full orchestration. We'll be adding six more players at Ford's, which is when we'll pull out all the stops.

I should get back to doing something useful, like keeping an eye out for leaks: it's raining in such torrents, the gentle babbling brook that runs under the rehearsal studio has turned into a class 5 rapids.

-Andrew

Friday, October 27, 2006

 

Halloween's Coming!!

Well everyone should know that Donna Lynne is a Halloween freak. She has worn about 10 different Halloween outfits so far. Not full-on costumes, just lots and lots of orange.

A bunch of us went last week to a BIG haunted forest thing. Waited in line for almost 3 hours to get in. Here's the fabulous Mark Sanders with someone he met there...don't be too scared.


Tuesday, October 24, 2006

 
Hi Y'all. Well we had our first "day off".

Most of the cast headed back to NYC to catch up on life and I slept in! We all really worked our behinds off this first week, so it was good to have a little breather. (I know, I know, Andrew worked 27 hours or somesuch craziness, he's a far better person than I.) Late in the afternoon, Michael, Andrew and I drove out to Gillette castle, which is a crazy, beautiful castle that was built by an actor who made a career out of playing Sherlock Holmes.

It was a very productive first week for the show. Two of the many changes, cuts & rewrites we did resulted in adding movement and dance to the piece, which I'm super excited about.

There's this number in act one called "What a Man" in which Ann sings about the two men in her life: John Doe and D.B.Norton. Originally, it was a 'writer's block' moment in which Ann is unable to write the big speech and her thoughts drift. It was good on paper, but very hard to play. Over the course of rewrites, it had lost the writer's block part and turned into more of a celebration of Ann turning around her hard luck. It played much better, but wasn't quite there yet. Now, we've turned the first section of the song into a street scene in which Ann is surrounded by images of John Doe and advertisements for the big speech on the bridge and it really moves and dances and sings. And it gets us out on the street, opening up the world. Karma and Donna Lynne are having a ball with it.

In other dance news, Andrew wrote a hot dance number for the top of Act Two. Curious? Come see the show!!

 

The little things

It's the morning after our day off, and I'm exhausted because I decided to do almost nothing but work yesterday. A glimpse into the difficult and weighty decisions that plague us today: coming up with some new material for the Colonel, including a long discussion about what's a funnier item in a list of things he disdains: tie pins? tie tacks? tie clips? bow ties? Of course, the answer was: poodles. Poodles definitely funnier.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

 

Cybercast


Rehearsal break in the green room.
Clockwise from top left: Victoria Huston-Elem, Mark Sanders, David Anderson, Nicole Mangi, Monique French, Jaron Vesely, Rachel Clark.

 

Ann & Beany


Keegan Michael Brown and Donna Lynne Champlin

 

Work space


Here's Eddie at one of about a dozen "workspaces" we've created around the rehearsal complex. This bar has a "Bergdorf Goodman" logo on the front, for some reason. Other workspaces include the back "Waterfall" room (not soundproof, so hope the chorus isn't singing anything loud), the stage management office, the green room, and the music offices across the street.

 
Jim Moye

Jim Moye finally speaks out.

Friday, October 20, 2006

 

Andrew's day

Today was a busy day, and pretty representative, so I thought I'd lay it out:

Got to the rehearsal room at 10AM, put in the changes to the new number we're working on for Mother ("What Could Be The Harm?"), so that it could be copied and distributed to the actors for a read-through at 11. Then I put in the rewrites to the reprise that I discovered I had never written at the initial read-through, so that could be taught in the afternoon.

We got a few actors together to read through the new Mother scene a couple times, and we agreed we'd talk about it over lunch. After that, we realized we had a problem with "Money Talks".

"Money Talks" is a number for Colonel and Beany that Eddie and I wrote last January at our writers' retreat at TheatreWorks Palo Alto. It's a fun uptempo number that has gone through a couple versions, and that's where the problem comes in. The original version of the song was written in 3/4, which we discovered the first time we heard it in CA was not funny. So I reset the entire number in 4, with the exception of a slow 3/4 strut section near the end. This was the version we used at Carousel and at the Hartt School. In August, however, the consensus among all the other creative staff (except Karma, who wasn't at the meeting) was that even that much 3/4 was too odd, too off-center, and the number wasn't landing. So I gave in and spent several days coming up with a rock 'em sock 'em straight-ahead ending that was VERY show-biz-y. This was the version our actors here have learned.

Just before staging the number today, however, we realized that Karma had never heard the new ending, and was about to stage the number based on the old version. I played everyone the new, 4/4 ending, and.... everyone wanted the old version back. The show biz ending was too much pizazz, and they missed the "edge" and "quirkiness" of the original. Of course, now I had no idea what I thought, because I had given up my attachment to the original and moved on, and now I was hearing all my arguments for the original given back to me. So, after an hour of beating my head against the wall, I had written a version that incorporates both the 3/4 strut and a squarer tag, hopefully having my cake and eating it. People seem to like it... for now...

At the lunch meeting, we discussed the new Mother scene we'd read through, and agreed that although it's very sweet and theatrical, it pulls the story away from Ann for too long. Eddie and I agreed to find a way to keep Ann in the mix and shorten the whole thing.

Afternoon was spent with a run-through of everything that's been staged, then I switched hats and did a revisit to the end of the show, adding back some lines from a previous version, writing some new lines, all based solely on the table read, but which I think are smoother.

These rehearsal days, by the way, go by very quickly. I feel like I've just gotten started and it's lunch, then an hour later it's dark and we're going over the schedule for the next day.

See you tomorrow!

 
Karma Camp

Karma Camp

Thursday, October 19, 2006

 
Eddie & Jess

Eddie Sugarman and Jess W. Speaker III

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

 

New number coming...

Eddie here. It's day two of rehearsal and much of the cast is learning music with Albin. Michael and Karma are preping for staging the opening this afternoon. Last night, Andrew and I started figuring out a new number we're thinking about for act two. Finished roughing it out this morning and are really liking what we've come up with so far. More on that later.

So last night, I tried the Italian restaurant across from the Opera house and it's totally tasty. Pat, Guy and Melanie walked in and joined me, which was awesome. I had to take off for a meeting with Andrew, so I said my goodbyes to walk up the street to the studio. It had been raining heavily and a truck zoomed by and soaked me neck to shins in dirty rain/puddle water. I was 80% mad and 20% amazed that that sort of thing really happens. So nasty.

 

The set!


 

Ann & John


Our fearless principals, Donna Lynne Champlin and James Moye.

 

We have props!


The amazing Goodspeed staff has already started creating our world.

 

Just add apple pie


More props

 

Where the magic happens


A view of the rehearsal studio, set up for our first read/sing-through. Spot the bagel crumbs.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

 

So THAT'S what we're doing

From Andrew:
Today was the first day of rehearsal, and aside from the rain, was terrific. Reading and singing through the entire show (which went amazingly well for having had zero rehearsal) reminded us what the show really feels like, and things that need tweaking were (as always) crystal clear; before dinner, I set an entire reprise lyric for the Ensemble which I had somehow overlooked (oops), and Eddie and I cut about 50% of one scene and came up with an idea for a new number for Mother (the lovely Melanie Vaughan).

Another notable achievement: I'm riding back and forth to the rehearsal studio on the bike I found covered in spiderwebs on my little patio area, and I have not yet killed myself. This may not seem like much, but as I ride a bike about once every five years, and there's a treacherous little bridge with no sidewalk on the way, and it was raining (a little), I consider it a major triumph. Eddie tells me it's a girls' bike (something about the crossbar) but I'm not buying it. When I'm on it, it's a boy's bike; no, a MAN's bike. So there.

 
Here's one of the van-fuls of Doe-Nuts at a rest stop off the Merritt parkway. Amazingly, everyone hit a dramatic, perfect pose for the picture...in theatre much?

(L-R Monique French, Aaron Lambert, Andrew Gerle, Melanie Vaughan, Nicole Mangi, Jaron Vesely, David A. Anderson, Rachel Clark down front Ronald L. Brown)

Sunday, October 15, 2006

 

The Writers Are Losing It!

Tomorrow, we all head up to Goodspeed to get this thing rolling, and it's a good thing too, cause Andrew (composer and co-bookwriter) and I are losing our minds. Andrew sends me this e-mail the other day sharing that he's taken some of Ann's lyrics and used some website translator to translate them from English to Italian to French and then back to English again. Here's how the first part of Ann's song "I'm Your Man" turns out:

ANN
Wished the fireworks?
I will give you fourth of July.
Lottos of fortune that they find better somebody than.
Simply which crashes to pieces them,
Really, Dick, they are enough crafty ones.
Yours I stop you
And of air ditch your parachutes.

Hmm, maybe I'd finally win the Kleban if I had sent that in instead of my lyrics.

Evidence of my brain decaying? Last night I had an epic dream about the first three days up at Goodspeed where, for some reason, 6 shows were being workshopped - one of them starring Tom Cruise. On day two, during the design team presentations, Andrew got up and did an eight-minute interpretive dance to show the "energy" of the piece. Watch out, Karma, it was pretty hot.

 

Meet Who?

Hi Cyberspace! This blog will capture the trials, tribulations and hijinx of the developmental production of Meet John Doe at Goodspeed Musicals in CT. I'm Eddie Sugarman (lyricist and co-bookwriter) and I'll kick this off. Cruise the links to the left to get up to speed on the development of the show and, most importantly, COME SEE IT!!

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