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June 3, 2017:

A SIXTY-NINE YEAR OLD JEW IN A UNITARD

Bruce Kimmel Photograph bk's notes

Well, dear readers, this month is flying by, like a gazelle listening to Scriabin whilst admiring itself in a unitard. I, on the other hand, am listening to Scriabin whilst not wearing a unitard for the simple reason that a sixty-nine year old Jew in a unitard is not an image you ever need to see or even imagine. I have now been through the three sets of the Scriabin symphonies. Funnily as these things go, I almost like the first one best because – it was the first. That’s the Kitaenko set. I also enjoyed the Vladimir Ashkenazy set, and I’m now enjoying the Riccardo Muti set – you really can’t go wrong with any of them. Between the Ashkenazy and Muti I’d probably give the edge to Ashkenazy – they both sound good, but the Ashkenazy performances seem to be lusher and more filled with that mystical Scriabin “thing.” But enough about Scriabin.

Yesterday, I got exactly three hours of sleep. I woke up at five and couldn’t fall back asleep – the windmills of my mind were turning to much – I even got up and made some notes. So, that was a little wacky. At nine I had a surprise – a knock on the door. Turns out she of the Evil Eye was coming a day early – I’d completely forgotten. So, I just showered and got ready and then moseyed on over to the rehearsal room for some rehearsing. We began with notes, then I ran several scenes. Then there was some music rehearsing and at about one o’clock our writer came. But the run-through, I was told, was going to have to be stop and start because we were going to do costumes for the first time. So, I didn’t think the writer would want to endure that torture and I was right, so he and our general manager went over to the El Portal and watched the lights being loaded in and hung and then they supped.

But as it turned out, we didn’t actually stop once – yes, there were a few incorrectly buttoned shirts, but the actors made every change and the run-through had very good energy and some of the scenes were the best they’d ever been. I really can’t say enough about our leading lady – she’s really terrific – singing, acting, all of it. A real find for me, and of course I’ll be inviting her to join our merry troupe at Kritzerland at some point. I had several notes on the costumes, most of which I liked a lot and a few of which not at all. So, our wonderful costume designer will make those adjustments and it will look great. We gave our notes right after the run – little nitpicks now, and I informed everyone the show was locked. In the work session at the beginning I made some adjustments to one scene that none of us felt had enough clarity and so that’s better now. It’s a little different than what the writers had in mind – but the way they’d envisioned it was too similar to something that happens just before it and there was a certain antagonism between two characters who need to bond – that, for me, is what the scene is really about. So, one line removed really helped, and then just a slight refocusing did the trick. Then we let everyone go at four.

I went over to the mail place and picked up some packages – I thought there should have been one more than I was given, and I was right – they forgot to give it to me, which was irritating, but I’ll just get it this morning before rehearsal. Then I went to Hugo’s – hadn’t been there in many months – and had my small Caesar and pasta papa – very good. Then I came home.

Once home, I answered e-mails, listened to music and caught up on stuff. Then I sat on my couch like so much fish and began watching a documentary on Shostakovich called The War Symphonies, a rather harrowing portrait of the brilliant artist living under Stalin. If certain similarities to events current are a little too close for comfort, you might even think, how could any of that have happened? I fell asleep within twenty seconds of beginning it and woke up an hour later. Then I watched straight through (it’s under eighty minutes), then began another documentary, this one about Rachmaninoff – also very interesting, but after twenty minutes I decided to save it for this evening.

After that, I listened to more music – some Shostakovich, a new to me version of the Sibelius fifth, and then back to Scriabin, the Muti set.

Today, we’d originally planned to have two run-throughs, but I think that would be counterproductive so we decided on one. We’ll do an hour of work throughs in the morning, as always, then at one-thirty we’ll start our run. The writer will be with us, but he knows the show is now locked, mostly for tech reasons. I can still make with the acting notes, but no blocking will change now, unless I need to adjust stuff once we’re in the theater. After we wrap, Kay and I are going for a nice meal, probably the Eclectic Café. Then I’m doing a long drive to go see our very own eleven-year-old Hayley Shukiar play Mary Poppins way out in Thousand Oaks or thereabouts. I’m sure that will be fun and they’re doing a way cut down version so I’ll probably be home by nine, at least that’s the hope.

Tomorrow we’ll do one run at one, give notes, and then let everyone go, so they can have a nice day-and-a-half off. Then I’ll go over to the El Portal to see how our set looks – I may even do that today, too. Monday is my day off and I’m doing as little as possible both day and evening. Tuesday we begin tech, which continues to Wednesday, at which point I hope we can do a complete run with lighting and set changes. Thursday we’ll do a full dress rehearsal. Each of those nights I will, of course, be going to Dial ‘M’ for Murder rehearsals. Friday we do a run in the day, and then we have an invited dress rehearsal at seven-thirty. Saturday we’ll do whatever touch-ups we need, if any, and then we play our first performance that evening. We play our second performance on Sunday at two, then we’ll all go out for a nice meal, hopefully to The Smoke House. Monday we begin rehearsing for Kritzerland, and then I’m with Dial ‘M’ full time until our June 30 opening.

Well, dear readers, I must take the day, I must do the things I do, I must, for example, rehearse, have a meal, drop in to the El Portal, and see Mary Poppins. Today’s topic of discussion: What are your favorite documentaries involving anything artistic? Let’s have loads of lovely postings, shall we, whilst I hit the road to dreamland, happy that you don’t have to imagine a sixty-nine year old Jew in a unitard.

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