Well, dear readers, continuing our look back at 2017 – after Dial ‘M’ for Murder closed we continued our Kritzerland shows, had our seventh anniversary show, did the Levi reading, put out our first Kritzerland classical CD, which did surprisingly well, and then we began gearing up for the production of Levi. The first order of business was doing the Indiegogo campaign, where we raised about fourteen thousand bucks, which was great. I thought with that, plus the twelve thousand five hundred the authors put in would just squeeze us through and take care of the orchestrations, band, musical director, choreographer, and sound. Unfortunately, our original sound guy dropped out and with him gone, gone was our rental package. And the unthinkable happened – the only guy we could get, who was really good, didn’t have his own equipment and so we were then at the mercy of having to rent from a company. And the sound budget, which was high to begin with, literally doubled and ate up the entire Indiegogo money and some of the other money, too. That effectively put us in scrambling mode – I had to go back to the authors and get more money and it still wasn’t enough and frankly we’re still scrambling to get everything paid, almost three and a half weeks later. It was literally the only negative thing, but everything cost more than it should have – that happens, of course, but straight down the line everything went up slightly. And I will just say that even though 2017 was certainly one of the most creatively fulfilling and productive years I’ve ever had, it was not a financially rewarding year – it was a real struggle, actually. Levi, for me, was a freebie – a ton of work that took a ton of time, all gratis. I now own a piece of the show, however, and am kind of in charge of where and how it goes from here, so hopefully it will pay off at some point, but the only job that actually paid decently was Hit Song.
But let’s keep accentuating the positive because it far outweighs the negative. We had a really good rehearsal period for Levi – a bit short, but I staged it in six days and Kay did her choreography quickly, too. It was occasionally a struggle for the students, but every one of them stepped up to the plate and by the time we opened they were doing just great. I couldn’t have asked for a better leading man – he was really born to play this role and he was absolutely superb in it. There were issues with the band, unfortunately, and we really should have replaced two of the players right off the bat, but I kept being told they’d get better – but they didn’t and it was a real shame, as Lanny Meyers’ orchestrations were superb and not quite being done justice.
We had an invited dress and a preview and both went very well, save for a few technical snafus that needed to get sorted out. We had a great set, the lighting was fine, and the very expensive sound package thankfully was terrific. Opening night there were a couple of really silly spotlight flubs and a mustache mishap, but overall it went very well, was pretty packed and the audience reaction was everything we could have hoped for. They were with the show from the curtain going up to the bows. Author Larry Cohen was sitting in front of me and when he got up at intermission he was weeping, and I turned to Richard Sherman next to me and he was weeping and I knew we’d all done something so right for these wonderful people and the late Robert B. Sherman. I was so proud of this production and while not all the reviews were stellar – they were oddly nitpicky about the book, which I found weird, but that’s just me – certainly the audiences responded to the book, the story, and the characters and there were big laughs, tears, and ovations at every performance and they never felt obligatory like most of the standing ovations one sees – these seemed truly heartfelt. A couple of the reviews really were stellar, though, and we had tons of nice pull quotes but in the end I only care about the audience and how they react. We had many returnees during the run – one couple came four times – which tells you something. I recorded our second week Friday performance because everyone kept asking about a CD release and I thought we should just have that option. Then Larry put up the money to film the final three shows with four cameras (five for the closing performance), so we’ll be able to edit together a really great video to send to regionals all over the country and to the handful of Broadway producers I know. The show got better and better as it went along.
I wasn’t positive I wanted to do the CD but I knew that if we were to do it, that I’d have to replace those two musicians – rerecord those instruments in total, which we ended up doing with two fantastic musicians. As I sat there and listened on headphones, I suddenly heard Lanny’s work in all its glory and I knew we could put out the CD. I do have to figure out how to get all this Levi overages taken care of – it’s hard to keep going back to the authors but certainly I can’t do it. If anyone has any ideas let me know, or if anyone wants to just send money via PayPal, that’s good, too.
At some point in early December I finally got the idea for a new book. It came to me as I was trying to fall asleep one night – I had so much fun writing Thrill Ride that I wanted to do another original story, not a Hofstetter book (although I do have one ready to go). And the idea is subject that I’ve been fascinated with for as long as I can remember, in the same way I was always fascinated with time travel. I know what the impetus was, what planted the idea, and I began fleshing out the basics – as I always do, I open one of my “New book idea” documents and do a “save as” – I have many of these and I just randomly chose one to save – and much to my surprise and actually shock was this very idea, which I’d had at some point and written down. This was a slightly different take but the central idea was exactly the same – that was fate, I thought. I ran the idea by Muse Margaret and she loved it and said it gave her goose bumps, and I spent the next weeks making notes about the story and, as I always do, writing the first couple of pages so that when I begin on January 1 I’m already into it. I turned seventy, which I don’t even understand, and now we’re about to have a brand New Year and it is my fervent hope and prayer that it will be a year filled with health, wealth, happiness, creativity, and all things bright and beautiful.
Yesterday, I didn’t get to sleep until after five and then slept until one. I answered e-mails, went and picked up no mail and one package, then stopped at Ralph’s and got some drumettes, a little chicken Caesar pasta (about three ounces only), a little bit of potato salad, some pinwheels, all for my meal o’ the day. I came home, ate the drumettes first, then read through the commentary and futzed and finessed it, so that’s now locked. The helper came by briefly, then I sat on my couch like so much fish.
Last night, I ate more of my stuff that I’d gotten from Ralph’s whilst watching a DGA screener entitled The Big Sick, a smart-ass title that put me off, frankly, as did the beginning of the film, which I didn’t respond to. But once the plot kicked in I got with it and I ultimately enjoyed it very much, mostly thanks to a wonderful performance by Zoe Kazan, and another wonderful performance by Holly Hunter. But all the actors are fine. The story is the true story of the leading man falling in love – he and his wife wrote it together – it’s literally their life, which is fine, but it does go on a bit long – ten minutes out of the movie wouldn’t be such a bad thing.
Then I watched a bit of the new Blu-ray transfer (4K) of Billy Wilder’s The Apartment. It looks pretty great and I’d only intended to watch about five minutes but ended up watching thirty minutes. I’ll finish that at some point today. I also heard the new versions of the mixes based on my notes, and it’s not going to be hard to finish this quickly next week – just some finessing to do – it sounds pretty great already. Then I began conforming the Levi script. I could tell instantly that not every single change had gotten into the script, which was irritating, but I thankfully remembered stuff as I went along, and I do have the very rough first mixes which has all the dialogue, so once I’ve finished I’ll have someone sit here and go through it with the recording and make sure it’s all correct.
After that, I relaxed, had a long telephonic conversation, worked at the piano, and that was that.
Today, I’ll be up by ten, the gal who’s helping unboxing stuff will be here at eleven to unbox stuff and organize the shelving units in the garage. I’m hoping that will clear more space, which we really need to do. I’m sure we’ll grab a quick bite to eat at some point. I’ll hopefully pick up some packages, too. Then I’ll relax.
Tomorrow I’m seeing a show and then relaxing, then Sunday is, of course, our Annual New Year’s Rockin’ Eve Bash, the best New Year’s Eve partay anywhere, and the safest. I hope to see you all here to ring in the New Year. I will do my contemplation thing, I’ll have my customary sip of champagne at midnight, and then the following morning I begin writing a new book.
Well, dear readers, I must take the day, I must do the things I do, I must, for example, supervise unboxing, continue conforming the script, eat, hopefully pick up packages, and then relax. Today’s topic of discussion: It’s Friday – what is currently in your CD player and your DVD/Blu and Ray player? I’ll start – CD, various Kritzerland projects. Blu-ray, The Apartment. Your turn. Let’s have loads of lovely postings, shall we, whilst I hit the road to dreamland, happy to have had such a creatively productive 2017 and looking forward to even more creativity and productivity in 2018.