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March 28, 2017:

THE WACKY FIRST REHEARSAL AND OTHER TALES OF A MONDAY

Bruce Kimmel Photograph bk's notes

Well, dear readers, we had our first rehearsal for next Sunday’s Kritzerland show. We always have fun doing the April show – in keeping with April Fools we have a lot of funny stuff as well as some April and spring songs, and it’s basically a potpourri of eclectic material and let me tell you this show is eclectic. Normally I mention all the numbers whilst writing about our first rehearsal but I’m going to keep a few numbers to myself, since some dear readers do come to the show. But I can reveal most of them.

First to arrive was Jenna Lea Rosen. She’s doing only one song in this show – and it’s one of mine own, from my unproduced musical Pals. We’ve done the title song a few times and it always goes over great, but no one’s heard any of the other songs from the show. So, we’re doing the dramatic ballad that closes the first act of Pals – it’s called Life Goes On and Jenna is doing a great job. I ended up changing the rhythm of one section, as it felt draggy and drawn out, and it works much better that way – and John Boswell just plays is so beautifully. I haven’t heard anyone sing this song since 1989 or thereabouts.

After Jenna came Hayley Shukiar. I can’t give away a single thing about what Hayley’s doing in the show other than to say this young girl has superb comedic timing – it’s very rare in a person of that age but it just comes very naturally to her, so I feel I can give her really fun stuff to do. Other than that, I can just tell you that she’s singing Tomorrow from Annie. Then came Kerry O’Malley. We ran her two solos – Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most and Home (not The Wiz or Beauty and the Beast, but Minsky’s). Then Will Collyer arrived and they ran their duet, I’ll Never Fall in Love Again – Kerry played Fran at Encores (with Martin Short) and Will just played Chuck at Musical Theatre Guild – it’s very sweet and I just love the song. Then Kerry left and Will ran his solo, Santa Fe from Newsies. That’s one of my favorite Alan Menken tunes. Then Robert Yacko arrived and he and Will ran their duet, Silverware, from We Take the Town. I was the first to record it on Unsung Musicals and we included it in our revue, Lost and Unsung. It’s really wacky and fun and very irreverent.

Then Robert ran his two solos – the opening number (a What If, but a variation on what I usually do with What Ifs – it’s pretty funny and as Robert settles into it it will be even funnier. And then One More Walk Around the Garden from Carmelina. Then it was Bruce Vilanch’s number, which I’m not going to talk about other than to say I was already guffawing. And of course we’ve opened it up in the middle so that Bruce can do his thing for a couple of minutes and given the world in which we live, I’m sure he’ll have scads of funny material.

After Bruce (AB), Jennifer Foster arrived. She’s new to us – she’s been to our shows and we’ve met and this show felt like a good one for her first time with us – and I was very right about that – she’s just terrific. First she ran My Own Morning, from Hallelujah, Baby, then The April Fools by Bacharach and David, and finally the naughty Growing Boy by Alan Menken from an unproduced musical about Babe Ruth. And finally, Nick Tubbs arrived and ran his three songs – Baby, You Can Count on Me (from Bring Back Birdie), The Delicatessen of My Dreams (a Frank Loesser novelty song), and finally One Song by Marvin Hamlisch and the Bergmans, a beautiful, uplifting song that we’re closing with. MIA was Hadley Miller, who’ll be with us on Thursday – she’s singing another Alan Menken song (I’m rather amazed that it’s worked out that Menken has three songs in this show) – I Want to Be a Rockette.

Prior to the rehearsal, I guess I slept around seven hours, then got up, answered e-mails, and did some stuff on the computer. I had a couple of telephonic calls and then I went and had a patty melt and a tiny side Caesar salad, after which I picked up a couple of packages. Then I came home. I got the blurb ready for our new release announcement, and I had a wonderful phone call from Richard Sherman. I was so happy to hear his voice and he seemed to be in good spirits and he thinks he’ll be out of the rehab facility in about a week-and-a-half. And he told me the sweetest thing – that he’s been rereading the Kritzer books and they’ve made him feel better, laugh, and have helped pass the time – and he’s rereading my others, too. I’m going to bring Elizabeth Thrill Ride as soon as I get them in on Wednesday. He is the sweetest man there is and I can’t wait for him to be home and completely better. We do have a lot of work to do on the show we’re doing and we miss him terribly at the Kritzerland shows.

Then we rehearsed. After that, I made a couple of fried eggs for my evening snack. And I dove into a big ol’ box set called New York Philharmonic: An American Celebration, 10 CDs of radio broadcasts from the 30s to the 90s, by American composers – Copland, Barber, Gershwin, Hanson, Henry Cowell, Virgil Thomson, Charles Ives and lots of others, with all major conductors and a whole slew of new to CD works. Once you get used to the archival sound, it’s a wonderful set – amazing stuff really. And the 80s and 90s broadcasts sound great. But it’s the music – not all of it to my taste, but all worth hearing, and the stuff that is to my taste is magnificent in terms of performances, some of which you’d have to call definitive.

I also watched a bit of a new French Blu and Ray of Joseph Von Sternberg’s Blonde Venus, starring Marlene Dietrich, Cary Grant, and Herbert Marshall – it’s one of my favorite movies. The transfer is pretty good – not perfect by any means, but definitely a step up from the DVD.

Then I just relaxed and took a shower, and got the audio samples ready for our new release announcement.

Today, the piano tuner’s coming back – there’s a funky note where it sounds like the hammer is not hitting the string correctly – it bugs me and it’s also thrown other notes out of tune and it shouldn’t be out of tune this quickly. After that, I’ll eat (probably at home), then I’ll hopefully pick up packages, and do whatever else needs doing.

Tomorrow, I have a meeting with the sound and lighting designer for the musical I’m directing, and I have to get the casting director some names of people I’d like to audition. Thursday is our second Kritzerland rehearsal, Friday I’m seeing Sami in her school show, Saturday is our stumble-through and then Sunday is sound check and show.

Well, dear readers, I must take the day, I must do the things I do, I must, for example, have the piano looked at, eat, hopefully pick up packages, and whatever else I need to do. Today’s topic of discussion: What are your favorite films starring Miss Marlene Dietrich? Let’s have loads of lovely postings, shall we, whilst I hit the road to dreamland, happy to have had such a fun first rehearsal.

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