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May 25, 2017:

THE FINE ART OF MURDER

Bruce Kimmel Photograph bk's notes

Well, dear readers, I must write these here notes in a hurry because I had my double duty day and evening of directing, and there was a bit of double duty drama, one per show and so unnecessary, but I don’t have to deal with one of them, and I dealt with the other by putting on the BK maniac hat – the one hat you never want to deal with, trust me. We’ll see how it all scopes out this morning, so send excellent vibes and xylophones for a good outcome for both.

Yesterday was quite a productive day. I stopped at the mail place on the way to rehearsal and picked up some packages, then we began our rehearsal right where we left off. I finished cleaning up the scene we were working on, and then Kay staged a song we’d moved from a cut scene to an earlier scene, and that came out very well. Then we had to let cast go for wardrobe fittings, so it was just music until that was all done. Then, rather than do a run-through, since we were missing several cast members, I just continued to run the play, clean up staging, clarify some things that were still unclear, and then, after we finished all that, I went right back to the top of the show and ran the first few scenes – the flow, thus far, is very pleasing to me and feels very good. There are several folks in this cast who are new to me and who I would work with anywhere anytime. I will say that the drama involving this show was that the co-author was scheduled to come in and see a run-through on Saturday. But since we will be without three cast members we all agreed that was not the way he should see this for the first time, and we are absolutely right about that. We don’t have understudies – so for these three co-starring roles the stage manager would be reading lines from his table and that’s just stupid and unfair to the production team that has been working its butt cheeks off to make this the best show it can be, and it is also completely unfair to the actors, as well. The general manager simply asked him to delay until Tuesday when we will have our full cast and he’d still be able to see six complete run-throughs. And frankly, I just don’t know that I’ll allow a run-through should he show up on Saturday – my intention was not to do one because of the missing actors – my intention was to do detail work on scenes, and let the musical director and Kay have the time they need to clean their stuff up. As Doris Day so aptly put it, que sera sera, but I’m hoping it will be as it should be and he’ll come in on Tuesday.

Then a few of us went over to the Coral Café for a meal. I had a chicken Caesar wrap and a little crumb cake thing – all very good. Then I moseyed on over to my second rehearsal. We picked up where we left off and I blocked the final five pages of act one. I love that sequence a whole lot and it plays beautifully and blocking it was really fun. Then we moved on to the first scene of act two, which was fairly short and went very quickly. And then we got to the murder scene. We took about forty minutes to figure out the basic choreography. I taught the actor who’s trying to choke the living daylights out of our leading lady how to look like he’s exerting pressure with the knotted scarf he’s using to choke her without him actually exerting any pressure at all – it’s all in the grunting, face, and then the actress does all the real heavy lifting in terms of selling the illusion. We have one really fun violent moment where she moves forward and away from him and he yanks her back with the scarf – it’s the way she snaps when he does it, and it’s totally cool and believable. Then we blocked the business where he gets stabbed with the scissors and that was fun. And then I let the actors run that over and over by themselves, beat by beat, until they were completely comfortable with it. The temporary desk we’re using isn’t sturdy enough to really do the final bits of the sequence full out, so I’ve asked for another desk for when we begin doing run-throughs. Then we did most of scene two – but a lot of that time was rather hilariously spent trying to remember how all the “key” business works. It’s one of the great things about the play – how you never quite remember whose key is whose and how that all plays out. It didn’t help that we were also trying to move stuff around – the film version moved some dialogue later in that scene and it works much better that way, but my assistant director kept misreading stage directions so that it became so confusing that I finally had to just figure it out myself. So, we’re now one scene away from the end of act two, which is pretty damn good for two three-hour rehearsals.

After that, I got word about the drama and just sent a few e-mails with my thoughts. By that time it was almost eleven-thirty and I had to then create invoices and get everything ready for shipping Ode to Billy Joe, which came in yesterday. So, that took a half hour, which is why these here notes are late in going up.

Today, the helper will come at ten and pick up invoices and get Billy Joe shipped, then I’ll stop at the mail place again and pick up whatever’s there, and then we have our rehearsal – I think I can do a full run-through today because I think we have our full cast, so that will be good. Then I will eat and then it’s rehearsal two and hopefully finishing up act two by the end of the evening.

Tomorrow it’s another rehearsal and then I’m meeting David Wechter and we’re seeing some Beach Boys thing at the Pantages Theater. Saturday will depend on what the outcome of yesterday’s drama is – hopefully it will all be fine and I’ll just do detail work. Saturday night is mine all mine, Sunday is like Saturday, Sunday night is mine all mine, and then it’s my day off (whew!).

Well, dear readers, I must take the day, I must do the things I do, I must, for example, ship Billy Joe, hopefully pick up some packages, rehearse, eat, rehearse, and then relax. Today’s topic of discussion: What are your all-time favorite murder scenes in movies and plays? Let’s have loads of lovely postings, shall we, whilst I hit the road to dreamland, happy to have had fun practicing the fine art of murder.

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