Gia Mora and Clarke Thorell
After Lunch Break
I am watching Steven Skybell and Mark Lotito play Mank and Spyrous. What a hoot! They are like a vaudeville act. Their big number is an eleven O’clock number called “The Way They Should Be Run.“ I hope someday I get to hear this song with a soft-shoe included.
Act II is feeling good. Certainly not enough time in this 29 hour reading to address everything that is screaming for attention. But the cast is so good – top to bottom- that they are able to pull it off.
We are moving on to the last song of Act I “Everything I Want” It sounds huge. Really amazing to hear the amount of volume a roomful of good singers can put out! Gia Mora is sailing out over the chorus just like she should. her chemistry with Clarke is great.
It is appropriately grey and rainy here today. This is the eighth anniversary of 9/11. Down at the site of the former World Trade Center there is the dedication of the new 9/11 memorial. I watched for a while on TV as all of the names of the victims were being read.
Yesterday at 1PM we read through the first Act. For having only two days of rehearsal, it went pretty well. The thing that makes me happiest about this is that I think it holds together as a piece of theater. Having a new cast, we now know that these words and these songs are not dependent on any one performer. The show works on its own. There are, of course, innumerable things to fix in this show that works. Meg Guroff asked me yesterday when it would be done. I abandoned that question in theater a long time ago. There is no “done.” I heard yesterday from Mel Morgan that they are still making adjustments to Phantom of the Opera. That show has been running for 20 years. That notion is contrary to most of my work-a-day psyche. I am at heart a completionist. I make lists and take great joy in crossing off the items that I have completed.
After rehearsal I came back to the Leo House to work on the show for a few hours. Then went to see “Spottiswoode and his Enemies.” They were at the Living Room on Ludlow St in the Village. Nice listening room. He played all new material – really none of his fallback killer songs. And it was all good. He is a really good lyricist and an incredibly theatrical performer. I can see why his band has been willing to work with him for so many years. Like many of his fans, I don’t understand why he is not more of a national figure. I know a few of his band members. John Young on bass. Candace DiBartolo on sax, Kevin Cordt on trumpet. And Wiley McMahon on guitar. Wiley is one of the most artistic, interesting guitarists around. Their performance at times bordered on the psychedelic. Something called Purple River, Yellow Moon??? The band bus trip to the Center of the Earth?? Whoa! I love the fact that the whole band can get into it with total conviction. I invited Johnathon to the Cleo reading on Monday.
Today we are continuing the read-thru. Starting with Act II. There are changes in the song “Toast.” Hell there are changes in everything. When this is all over I will need to see a compiled score to get a handle on all the changes. I have just been writing, sending pdfs to Mel, and then wondering what version we are currently singing…..
Just started with Laura Marie Duncan. She is playing Sybil Burton. She is currently in South Pacific at Lincoln Center. She plays one of the nurses, and understudies for Nelly Forbush. She is completely confident of her ability to learn new material quickly. Her featured song is called “I Know Him.” It is a song that could steal the show. She is singing to Eddie Fisher (Fred Berman).
Today we will have our first read-thru at 1PM. It should be instructive. Although everyone here is a very quick study, they are still reading the notes. Something like this doesn’t really take shape until the actors are off-book ( ie. having memorized their part) . I am hoping that the songs will start to find their natural balances- between chorus and soloist; and that the songs themselves will start to seep into their psyches a little.
Yesterday Clarke learned “That’s a Laugh” That was the song where he had to make some determination of how British “laugh” was. Was it “lof”, “laaf” or about 20 other places I can’t even hear. I’ll be looking forward to how that solidified overnight.
At the end of the day yesterday, we decided that “Toast”, the opening number to Act II needed work. So last night I re-wrote the end of the song. We’ll see today how that came out. Luckily, I am allowed to use the piano at the hotel I am staying at. Otherwise, I would have been working only on this laptop, and that is a drag. In my heart of hearts I am a paper and pencil guy. But I am not crazy. My life changed for the better once I got the Sibelius notation software. And now I can’t imagine how I got by with just my paper and pencils.
I’m staying at the Leo House on 23rd st. It is an odd place to stay. It is sort of a Catholic boarding house/hotel. There is a dining hall ( could that be the Refectory?) on the second floor and they serve breakfast everyday – the buffet is $9. Today I played piano for the breakfast crowd to thank Sister Cathlene, who allowed me to use the piano. It was like a cocktail gig. I’ve played a million of them…. “thank you very much, we’ll be here all week, Try the veal.” It has always been a weird comfort to me to know that if you can play the Cole Porter songbook etc, you can always make a living.
I talked to Cristen Paige yesterday. She is playing Edie Sedgwick in a piece at Yale next month. And man, has she done her research! Edie was one of the stars of Andy Warhol’s Factory, and a casualty those times. She also has done her homework on Liz Taylor.