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February 4, 2018:

MUSINGS ON THE MUSICAL THEATRE WORKSHOP

Bruce Kimmel Photograph bk's notes

Well, dear readers, we had us a really fun musical theatre workshop at the Group Rep yesterday morning for three hours. I always begin by getting everyone’s name and ask what their favorite musical is. Then I make sure everyone knows that it’s a safe room, and that no one is there to judge. And I always say that the only words that are not allowed in the room are no, can’t, won’t, don’t, and scared. Then I talk about songs – interpretation, acting, color, nuance – all that stuff. Then over the next ninety minutes each of the fifteen people got up and sang their first song. After they’d finish I’d make some comments, all positive, with just general hints about things that might have taken away from the song and their performance. Everyone in that first session was very nervous so we talked about nerves and how to combat them. And some of the song choices didn’t work for some and we discussed why. Then we took a ten-minute break.

When we came back I talked a bit about how daunting it is, especially for people who haven’t done this a lot, to get up in front of people and sing on their own, solo. We talk about pitch issues and shyness and not singing out and owning the material. Then I bring everyone onstage and I say watch what happens when you all sing together. Then we do Do Re Mi – and what do you know? Suddenly everyone is singing loud and on pitch – every single person. So we do that a few times and you can literally just see the confidence growing. Then we do it again but this time I point to people and then when I do everyone stops singing and those people take a solo line, and invariably all that confidence leaves them. But they learn from that immediately, and by the end of that fifteen minutes the change in the energy is palpable.

Then everyone did their second song. This time, I not only gave comments, I would give direction and have them do certain lines again, so that’s always fun. And then the gal who did props for Dial ‘M’ for Murder got up. She’s never sung before in her life and during Do Re Mi in solos she could not hear the pitches – I had her do her solo lines over and over and sometimes she’d get close but still not hear them. When she got up to do her second song, which was a redo of the first song she’d done, she went through it and once she got halfway through she began to get closer to the pitches. So, I had her start over. She was way under the notes. I had her start again. Same thing. Then I said to do it much softer and quieter and to make it almost like conversation. And guess what happened. She sang the first four lines perfectly on pitch. Everyone was amazed, no one more so than her. That’s the kind of breakthrough everyone loves and needs to see happen. So, it was really fun and I know that those fifteen folks will all be back when we do the second one in April. And I’m sure after the word gets out, all the people who didn’t come will want to come.

After that, Leslie and her two daughters, Doug and his daughter (both his daughter and Leslie’s Alexa did the workshop) and I went to Barone’s for food. We ordered a large square pepperoni pizza (had a huge craving thanks to yesterday’s topic), and I also had a small Caesar salad and Alexa and I split carbonara, which was even better than two weeks ago, and when you split it’s only about three ounces of pasta. After that, Doug came back here and I played him the part of our opening number that’s done, so he could get the vibe and what I want the structure of the number to be, so he’ll now write to that. Once we’re past that then everything becomes easier.

Then I picked up two hard copies of the book, one for me and one for the hard copy proofer. She came by and picked up hers. And I sat on my couch like so much fish.

Last night, I watched a motion picture entitled Night of the Following Day on a Blu and Ray from France. I saw the film the day it opened in 1969 – I was living in NY that year. It was a seriously strange movie but there was something hypnotic and mesmerizing about it and I went back several times to see it. Even then I knew that several of the scenes were bonkers and that Brando and company were just making it up as they go along because frequently what they were improvising made no sense at all. That is especially true of the long scene between Brando and Jess Hahn, and also a couple of Rita Moreno’s scenes. But still… just the way the movie was shot and directed was, for me, really gray and moody, which I loved, and I also loved the score by Stanley Myers. And like most people, I was a fan of Pamela Franklin, who only says a few words in the entire film. And Richard Boone is really scary. The film was based on a novel by Lionel White, who also had films made from Clean Slate (Kubrick’s The Killing) and The Money Trap. In the mid-1970s I managed to get a 16mm dye transfer print, which I ran all the time for people. I introduced more people to this film and The Swimmer via my prints because at the time not many folks had seen either film. This is one of those infamous Universal things where they shot new scenes for its TV airings, adding in new characters who explain everything that’s going on. It was horrible, but I wish they’d include these things as extras. Of course I bought the DVD the minute it came out. It was okay for a DVD – not great, not bad. I’m happy to say this Blu-ray is pretty good and pretty much resembles my 16mm dye transfer print in every way. My print was, of course, open matte, but here we get the original ratio or close to it, although the one nitpick is the window boxed titles, something I’ll never understand, since the actual type is nowhere near the edges of the frame. The color is perfect. The photography was always odd in this film with some scenes slightly out of focus – that’s always been there and the opticals are the opticals.  And all these years later I still love this movie for reasons I can’t explain. So, if you like slightly strange movies, this one comes highly recommended by the likes of me.

After that, I began another go-through of the new book, mostly to remove more hyphens. I’m sixty-nine pages in and I’ve already nuked about fifteen of ‘em. I’m just making sure all those cuts and fixes I made now read smoothly.

Today, I will not do much of anything. I know it’s Stupid Bowl Sunday so I shan’t be venturing out. I have pasta here, or, once the game starts, I may go to Ralph’s and just get some light stuff there rather than have more pasta. We shall see. Otherwise, I’m relaxing and taking it easy and I’ll continue reading through the book.

This week is meetings and meals, Kritzerland show planning and Kritzerland release planning, and a lot of catching up to do and, of course, dealing with bits of merde.

Well, dear readers, I must take the day, I must do the things I do, I must, for example, not do much of anything. I’ll eat, maybe jog, continue reading the book, and relax. Today’s topic of discussion: It’s free-for-all day, the day in which you dear readers get to make with the topics and we all get to post about them. So, let’s have loads of lovely topics and loads of lovely postings, shall we, whilst I hit the road to dreamland, happy to have had such a fun musical theatre workshop.

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