Sorry it’s been so many days, everyone. Just been busy – as you can imagine. So I have some catch-up to do. The show is going well. We had a really great run-through yesterday. Our director had to go back to Australia for some business over our days off and the first two days of this work-week (Tuesday and Wednesday,) which was a great opportunity for our choreographer, Andy, to do some really great clean up. I have to say, I love watching creative artists working. Just watching Andy rethink moments and Simon, our director, change bits to make them tell a better story, a more “economical” story, is so informative – in terms of the whys and whats that they change. So the story keeps getting clearer and more concise. We have two more days here. We will basically be doing scene work and cleaning numbers in the mornings and maybe a small part of the afternoon, then we’ll do a run and have notes for the rest of the afternoon. It’s an interesting thing here. Each run-through, we had some configuration of producers in the room. So you look out to start the run-through and there is a row of very distinguished-looking people all looking like 5 year olds on Christmas morning. LOL So full of anticipation. Its slightly daunting (since they’re the ones who’ve shelled out thousands of dollars so that we can have jobs) and kind of sweet (simply because they all seem so excited). But I’m very happy to say that by the end, their smiles are even bigger than when we started so I think they’re pretty happy with their investment.
I gotta tell ya, I think this show is going to take New York by storm. And it’s probably pretty hard to storm New York. I don’t think this city has seen something like this in a while, if ever. And I think it’s going to run for a long time. It just has such appeal across the boards. It has the “girls’ night out” appeal, the gay appeal, the drag queen appeal, the “couples from the mid-west who feel like they’re going to the zoo” appeal, the young’ins who feel like they’re being “worldly” by seeing it appeal. And even though it’s got gay themes, it’s not overly gay-centric in it’s sexuality so the straight guys can come and feed that curious straight penchant for dressing up in kooky drag. Having said that, there is still enough eye-candy for the gay boys to please their palates. AND there is so much to see in the show, there will be repeat patrons from all across the board, wanting to go on the Priscilla ride again, and again, and again.
Some I wanted to talk about something in an earlier blog but kept forgetting. I don’t know if the audience (for those of you wonderful people who are audience) realize how much of the physical life is “planned” in a show. Anything that isn’t choreographed (danced or movement that is “stylized) is called the “blocking”. That is a big part of what gets done in those 8 hours a day. But literally, you do a lot of moving and backtracking in rehearsal. Allow me to explain for the laymen among you. For those of you who are in the biz, feel free to pass by this paragraph. Or feel free to read it but don’t be a judgy-pants. 😦 Right, back to the explanation. Usually when you start rehearsing a scene, you figure out, with the director, what the physical givens are (what space are you in? is there a door? where is it? Is there a table, sofa, other furniture? is there a window? are you outside? is it winter? etc.) Then you figure out the prop givens (there has to be food in this scene? there is a working pen and some paper because you have to write a note later on in the scene, etc.) Then you start to play. I, as an actor, might decide to enter the room (and it’s living room, let’s say) and, because I know my character lives in this house, I don’t necessarily have to spend a lot of time taking in the room as it’s all familiar. The script says I call my wife’s name to see if she’s home, just out of habit. Let’s say my character is on a diet that his wife has put him on and there is a box of chocolates on the table. So I enter the room and decide I call for her before I see the chocolates. Then I see the chocolates and decide to sneak one. But then I’ll stop and realize, or the director might stop me and decide, that I should come in, see the chocolates first, then go to the staircase and make sure she’s not there by calling here name THEN so the audience gets a better picture of how much I’m NOT supposed to be having these chocolates. Then I go to the table and deal with how I eat the chocolates. And every single moment of the scene is taken apart like that. Every detail has to tell the right story. And that was the first 30 seconds of the show. To this you add in how you approach moments, internal life of the character, objectives (what your character wants from the other character), etc. And the skill of the actor is to make it look like it’s all freshly happening in that moment every night. Then the run-throughs are about us solidifying our choices, looking to refine and add on or clean up moments that seem sloppy or unclear. The director is the outside eye that keeps the whole production running smoothly – the right tone, the clarity of storytelling – because she/he can see the big picture while you’re focusing on the minutiae of your performance and connecting with the other actors onstage.
Now as for New York. Had a wonderful day off with my pal, Danielle, again on Sunday. This coming Sunday is her birthday so I decided that last Sunday would be her birthday day since we leave in the morning this coming Sunday. I met her in Harlem. I was so excited as I’ve never been there and that’s where she grew up. So we first went to well-known soul food restaurant called . . . oh shoot. What’s it called? Found it. (Bless the internet) AMY RUTH’S. Oh my lord.
Soooooooo good. We waited in line for about 20 minutes and it was worth it and then some. I had to try the the smothered chicken. Of course, I first had to ask Danielle, “Smothered in what?”. Her response, “(smile) Gravy.” My response, “I’m in.” It was delicious. And it comes with two sides. Tell you about those in a minute. Danielle had the “Dougie Fresh” which is waffles with fried Whiting (fish) which also comes with two sides. Mine was called . . . . wait for it . . . the “President Barack Obama” which is fried, smothered, baked or barbequed chicken. We decided to have a real taste (for my sake) of some southern sides so we had macaroni and cheese, collard greens, candied yams and cheesy grits. Oh lawd, y’all. We literally didn’t eat for the rest of the day. But it was so good. Then Danielle took me on a guided tour of a bit of Harlem. I should say here I wanted to see Harlem for 2 reasons. 1. Just because it’s an area I’ve heard about so much and 2. it’s an area I’m told I should also look at to live when I come back in the new year. So we walked around from 116th Street to about 160th or so. And I got to see the outside of the famous Apollo Theater which seems so unassuming.
I want to go inside when I come back. What was kind of cool to see, and Danielle had already told me about this, was that Harlem isn’t just all black. It’s become a much more racially mixed area and everyone seems to be living together quite harmoniously. It had a great vibe. I could totally imagine myself living there. So it’s on my list. It was also wonderful to see the apartment building that Danielle grew up in and hear about her going to school and how she started singing in a program at her school, etc.
After we got tired of walking our asses off, we took the subway down to my area where there is salon Danielle likes and we got her a manicure and a pedicure. Just a little pampering. We laughed and talked. Then she came over and I had a bottle of bubbly and just a little bit of cake (okay, I lied, that’s the only other thing we ate that day cause we were so full of good southern cookin’). And we talked and talked and laughed some more. Then I walked her to the subway and she headed off home. It was a pretty great day.
I have to head off to work but I just wanted to do some catch up. I have to tell you guys about the shows I’ve seen too but I’ll get to that in the next few days.