Last night I met Reggie Marshal at Sweet Rhythm. This old jazz club is in its last week of existence. Sonny Fortune is recording a live cd there for the next few nights. Knowing Reggie allowed me to hang with Sonny for an hour befor the show. What a trip he is! He played wit Elvin, Miles, Cannonball, you name it. And he has the stories. I could have listened to him talk all night. His set- the one I heard- was intense. And I’m pretty sure he was just warming up. His drummer Steve Johns is terrific. Steve has a 13 yr old son named Daryl who has played bass with Sonny. I didn’t hear him. But everyone in the band had and agreed that the kid can really play.
This was the perfect break from the Broadway Bubble I’ve been in. A beautiful unreformed beatnick who sat with us told me she felt sorry for people so square they couldn’t dig Sonny’s sound.
New York is just grand some nights.
Gia Mora, Matt Bogart, Van Hughes, Paul Anthony Stewart
End of the Day On Friday
Paul Anthony Stewart as Montgomery Clift, Matt Bogart as Rock Hudson, and Van Hughes as James Dean. They play characters in Liz’s mind. Quite an amazing leap that Joe has put into this book. We are rehearsing “I Can Do”. The three “imaginary boys” have two songs together. The other is “That’s the Kind of Friend”. In both they have this very funny chemistry. They are ghosts, or figments of her imagination who don’t quite realize they are imaginary. I know that it sounds odd for a musical, but Joe has somehow made this work.
Reggie Marshall is coming to New York tonight to see one of his other clients, Sonny Fortune. I am going to go to Sweet Rhythm (a jazz club here in NYC) to see him with Reggie. Sonny Fortune has been a well know sax player for nearly 50 years. I’m looking forward to this.
Saturday- tomorrow- we also rehearse.
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…..