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August 3, 2017:

BIRTHING A NEW SONG

Bruce Kimmel Photograph bk's notes

Well, dear readers, we had the final part of our first Kritzerland rehearsal with our two singers who’d been out of town on Monday. First to arrive was Adrienne Stiefel, my wonderful star of Hit Song. Grant Geissman also arrived at the same time, as he’s playing one of her numbers just on guitar with no piano. So, we began without gorgeous put-together – Moon River and Days of Wine and Roses. We figured out the right key for both and it already sounds fantastic and will sound even better when Grant writes out the chords (neither song is in the published sheet music key). Then Grant left, and she sang her second number, the wordy but infectious He Shouldn’ta, Hadn’ta, Oughtn’ta Swang on Me from The Great Race – too much fun. And then we did her final number, a put-together of Wait Until Dark and Two for the Road. However, after hearing her do it, I decided Wait Until Dark was kind of dead weight and actually taking away from the unique beauty of Two for the Road – so I cut it, and we’re now just doing Two for the Road, which was Mr. Mancini’s favorite of all the tunes he wrote.

Then Amy Gillette arrived and we ran her three numbers: First was a put-together of two songs from Darling Lili – Whistling Away the Dark (glorious) and Smile Away Each Rainy Day. Great stuff. Then she did Crazy World from Victor/Victoria – she recently played the title roles in the show. Finally, it was Le Jazz Hot from the same show and she does that wonderfully. She left, and then Richard Allen and I worked on the act two opener of Levi. The way the song was written doesn’t work for the way I know the act has to open – it’s too slow and leaden for what we need, which is energy and fun. I originally was going to ask Richard Sherman to rewrite the tune, but as we played with it we came upon a rhythm that worked for me – uptempo, fun, and so the tune now works in the way I need it to and the arrangement will be fantastic when we get it all smoothed out and down on paper. While Richard Allen was making notes on that and packing up his stuff, Richard Sherman called.

Last night, I’d sent him my lyric for a new Levi song I wanted for act two. The scene cries out for a song, but instead it simply ends with a very good line spoken by Levi, who then suddenly appears in the next scene. On stage you can’t cut to the next scene like a movie, so there was no way to stage it the way it was written – and the last line of the scene was a song title if ever there was one – just waiting for a song, and the character absolutely needed an act two number. It was an easy lyric for me to write because I knew exactly what the song needed to say for both the moment and the character. I prefaced the e-mail by telling him that the music had to be very different in style and tempo to the song that comes a scene-and-a-half later. Elizabeth didn’t show it to him until 5:30 yesterday – his call came in at 5:50 and he played me the song. Other than swapping out one line at the end, and shortening one line with two word changes, it was exactly what I’d sent him – the tune was beautiful and it will work perfectly. Richard doesn’t fool around when there’s something to be done – as he often says, we’re exactly the same person in that regard, and we are. So, what a treat that was. And it’s our second song together.

Prior to all that, I’d gotten seven hours of sleep, answered e-mails and had telephonic calls, then went and had a Philly cheesesteak sandwich (not as big as usual) and a small side salad for my greens. It was very wonderful, and afterwards I picked up a couple of packages.

After the rehearsal and phone call, I did a two-and-a-half mile jog, then sat on my couch like so much fish.

Last night, I continued watching the Hitchcock Hour episodes. First something called Annabel, a peculiar little tale from the novel This Sweet Sickness by Patricia Highsmith (Strangers on a Train – yes, the woman who created Guy Haines). Dean Stockwell and Susan Oliver starred. It was pretty okay but not great. Then came an episode called House Guest, starring MacDonald Carey and Robert Sterling – it wasn’t very good. Finally, an episode called The Black Curtain, starring Richard Basehart and Lola Albright. Now, The Black Curtain was the very first novel I read by Cornell Woolrich, and it began my love affair with his books. This adaptation hits some of the key plot points but adds crap that isn’t in the book at all – I mean, you’re trying to adapt a full length novel in forty-eight minutes and you ADD crap that wasn’t in the book? And none of the crap that was added actually paid off – it’s just there for no reason (all involving James Farentino as a punk and would-be blackmailer). So, the episode was a disappointment any way you cut it. It was directed by a young up-and-comer, a former teen actor – someone named Sydney Pollack.

After that, I went to Gelson’s and got food for the next two days, as I don’t want to go out to eat until after Kritzerland. Then I relaxed and listened to music.

Today, we have our second Kritzerland rehearsal. Prior to that I’ll eat, hopefully pick up some packages, and then Richard and Elizabeth are coming over at two so we can do some Levi work.  After the rehearsal I’ll jog, and then do some work on the computer and at the piano. Then I’ll relax and watch more episodes.

Tomorrow I have a lot of little stuff to do and she of the Evil Eye is coming in the morning. Then we resume Dial ‘M’ for Murder performances, although I won’t be seeing the show this weekend. Saturday is our stumble-through and 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, eat, hopefully pick up packages, have our second rehearsal, jog, and relax. Today’s topic of discussion: What are your favorite films of Mr. Sydney Pollack? Let’s have loads of lovely postings, shall we, whilst I hit the road to dreamland, happy to have birthed a new song with Richard Sherman.

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