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May 18, 2017:

DIAL ‘M’ FOR MUSICAL

Bruce Kimmel Photograph bk's notes

Well, dear readers, our second day of rehearsal was very productive with very interesting things coming out of it. As I rehearse each scene I’m finding ways to clarify things and keep everything running smoothly in terms of how we get from scene to scene. One tiny example: There was one scene today that lasts a little over a page, lights down, and then lights up in the same location just a few hours later. This seemed a bit herky-jerky to me, so I simply combined the scenes and got the character who’s in the second scene into the first, which actually made perfect sense and helped the storytelling in several ways. We’re adjusting constantly – smart actors will always tell you when a beat or line doesn’t ring true and is difficult for them. Most of the time they’re completely on the money – if they’re not, we talk about intention and why it’s there and then they’re fine. Our musical director is very fast in terms of coming up with transition or scene change music, which I’m using a lot and in some interesting ways.

I got to the rehearsal room at ten-thirty and the helper took the motor car for a big ol’ bath and detailing – I realized the last time I did that was the last time the car was washed – and that was about eight or nine months ago. Since the cast had music rehearsals from eleven to two, Kay Cole and I went over to Mucho Mas and had a light lunch and talked through a really problematic scene in which everything was too muddled and unclear. So, we talked through each beat and by the end of it I’d revamped it, rearranged it, changed certain aspects of it to make it clearer – that involved writing a couple of lines but they’re very much in the style of the show and are there just to get us from thing to thing.

We began at two o’clock, first with the combined scene, which went very quickly and well. At this point, as I said, I’m not worrying about directing acting or performances. Kay actually began giving some acting detail and I stopped her because it’s just too soon – all I care about now is getting everything staged and trying to make the story as clear as I can – the rest will come. Then we moved on to the big revised scene – first I had them read through it as it was, then we read the revised version, which everyone really liked so much better, because you could actually act it. And it’s very effective. That’s a fairly long sequence that ends very dramatically. Then we staged the scene that follows it, which also needed some clarification but not nearly as much and mostly to do with how much time has elapsed between the prior scene and this one. We got through the long first half of it, and will do the second half today – but we’ve done thirty pages in six hours, so that’s pretty damn good. And I also ran the opening number as our warm-up and after it, I really cleaned up the staging that happens prior to the song – it looked good but it wasn’t sharp enough, but it is now and looks much better.

After we wrapped, I went directly to the Group Rep Theater for our final auditions. We had about nine people scheduled out of which three showed up. Out of the three there were two candidates plus the one from the night before. The first fellow who came in gave a good reading, but I gave him some direction and did a long monologue again and he really took the notes well and I was pleased with him, and that’s who we’ve cast. So, finally the show is cast. Whew!

Then I met Doug Haverty for a quick bite – I had a bowl of chili – and we went over stuff we needed to go over, then I finally came home at around 9:45. Then I had a lot of e-mails to answer and that was that.

Today, the musical director asked if he could have one more hour with the singers – I really wanted all six of my hours today, but I said yes and so we’ll start staging at noon, but I should be able to get quite a bit more done in our five hours. And I don’t have anything, thank goodness, in the evening.

I’ll have our full six hours tomorrow and I’m sure we’ll either finish or get near to finishing. Saturday Kay wanted ninety minutes with one choreographic scene in front of the mirrors, so she’s got that, then we’ll finish up whatever’s not finished, and that includes the other big choreographic number that happens close to the end. So my hope is that on Sunday I can assemble the show during the first three hours, and then actually run it and fix any transition stuff. Then we have our day off, and then we’re into run-throughs each and every day. I’ll always spend the first three hours doing detail work and performance work, then we’ll run, have some notes, the rinse and repeat.

Well, dear readers, I must take the day, I must do the things I do, I must, for example, continue staging, and then I’ll hopefully pick up some packages, then have a nice comfy full evening to my very own self. Today’s topic of discussion: Chili. What’s the best chili you ever had? Do you have a good chili recipe and if so share. And what are your favorite kinds of chili? Let’s have loads of lovely postings, shall we, whilst I hit the road to dreamland, happy to have had a fun second rehearsal, and really happy we are finally fully cast for Dial ‘M’ for Murder. But tomorrow it’s Dial ‘M’ for Musical.

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