Just coming up to opening night, the cast worked on a video for the “It Gets Better” campaign to support gay/lesbian/transgendered youth and encourage teens to know they are not alone and suicide is not the only answer. It’s really had me thinking about many things surrounding this idea. I’m so horrified but I understand the impetus. But the idea that these young people feel that that is only solution, that there is not someone in their lives they can turn to, makes me sooooo crazy and angry. One of the questions I have is where are these kids’ parents? I say this acknowledging that sometimes great parents can’t even stop their children from having suicidal thoughts. So I don’t want anyone to think I’m saying that bad parenting is all that leads to teen suicide. But having said that, you hear about so many teens, gay or otherwise, who for one reason or another had a horrible time with parents who don’t support their choices or their true identity. Where is the unconditional love? The fact that any parent would use their love as a weapon is the most heinous of all crimes against nature. As soon as this being you’ve created comes into this world, the only thing that you can guarantee him or her is your undying love. That doesn’t mean you’ll always like each other or believe in each other’s rightness. Just love. Love that says,”you can come to me with anything and we’ll work through it.” Not, “as long as you make the choices I approve of, I will love and support you.” I am convinced more and more every day that that is an evil that is responsible for most of the horrors of this world. Seriously, it begins at home in those early years. I wonder how many creators of evil through the ages had shitty parents.
When these young people commit suicide because they are outed or feel they can’t live in this world as a homosexual or transgendered person, where is there family? Why do they feel that they can’t go to them for help? Why have they not been raised to know that whatever and whoever they are is wonderful and okay and blessed? I’m not talking about being an axe murderer or a child molester.
Oh, now that brings me to that point. People who equate homosexuality with axe murderers and child molesters. That brings up two issues to me. 1. Are you a fucking idiot????!!!!! If you actually think that people who murder other people or scar other people physically and/or emotionally are the same as two constenting adults who, in the privacy of they’re own home, chose to have sexual relations or love each other and make a life together are the same thing, you don’t deserve to have children and pass on your stupidity. You are moron. Not only is that thought process asinine, it’s completely irrational. 2. Even if your child was an axe murderer or child molester, of course you may hate the sickness that propels them to act on those impulses but there would still be love for the person who was that little girl or boy who sat on your lap and said, “I love you, daddy”. I cannot and will not ever understand a parent who finds out their child is gay and says, “I will not love you anymore’. As far as I’m concerned, if your child kills himself or herself after that, you are a murderer, pure and simple. And I’m such a supporter and believer in “walking a mile in someone else’s shoes” but in this day and age where we know so much, there is nothing that makes that okay. This is your child.
I’m so blessed to have parents who have always believed in me and supported me. They encouraged me to be anything I wanted and have always made it clear that their love was boundless. Don’t get me wrong, I had my own demons that are separate from them and have had some dark thoughts. That’s why I want to reiterate that I’m not saying every child who has suicidal thoughts or commits suicide has parents who are at fault. Not at all. Human beings are complicated. But a lot of it starts there. I think it’s because my mom and dad were so loving that I was able to realize there was hope.
I also had an inner . . . what? . . . fortitude from somewhere that wasn’t from my parents. Something deep inside me knew that life is full of balances and if I could just get through this gross growing up stuff, things would turn around. I knew I was meant for something else. Not everyone has that, I realize and it can be tough. Kids are bastards, let’s face it. They can be mean and spiteful and hateful. Again, if there is no parent watching and making sure they aren’t being dickheads and bullies, it’s Lord of the Flies in 10 minutes. We are humans, we push boundaries. Imagine if we pushed boundaries towards the divine instead of the destructive.
Wow, nice unintentional segueway, Thom. What does push boundaries in a good way . . . nay, (yes, I used nay – and properly, I might add) a great way, is art. Art opens eyes, minds, hearts. Bringing us back full circle, we finished our video and its now on YouTube and I wanted to share it with you. It’s our cast telling stories or making statements of support to any and all young people (older people too) who may be feeling like there is no where to turn and no chance of a life beautifully lived. I didn’t tell any stories, I just made statement. Every time I thought of what to say, I was so filled with rage, I knew I couldn’t start. That’s why I had to write this so I could get it out of me. Parents – love your children, hold them, embrace them, teach them to love themselves. Children – trust in the goodness of the universe and celebrate the beauty of your uniqueness. If you can hold on (and you CAN), you will go out into the world and find people who will revel in the extraordinary person that is you. It Gets Better.
OPENING NIGHT. My God, what a night. It was crazy and funny and insane and buoyant. It was a bit of a bizarre night. Where do I start? The crowd was great. We had a technical difficulty at one point in Act 2. There is a section of floor that raises to become a stage for the three leads at one point but after their “performance” is over, it lowers to become plain floor so in a couple of minutes, the bus can float over it. Well, the floor didn’t lower all the way, so we come to the end of a reprise of “A Fine Romance” and there is supposed to be a big bang and then the bus is revealed and Bernadette steps out. But because the floor didn’t lower, they couldn’t do the bang and carry on. The ensemble was backstage changing costume and we are listening and waiting for the bang and we just hear the band vamping at the end of the song. Poor C. David Johnson was onstage by himself waiting for the bang. Finally, the crew had to go out and fix it and our Stage Manager had to make an announcement about continuing in a few minutes. The best part was while we were waiting, C. David said to the audience “They spent a lot of money on the bus”. The audience roared. Audiences love being present when things go wrong. After a minute or two, it was fixed and we carried on.
The second thing is hard to explain without giving something away. Hmmm okay I’ll try cause I love my readers. There is a part of the show where three of us are onstage in particularly odd and funny costumes (I know, take your pick) and we were doing some “weaving” choreography. We last night, James picked up a large chunk of flitter (which is like these curtains of long strands of tinsel) with his costume. He is on the left of me and then crossed in front of me to the right. Well I watched it happen and knew I had to travel through it as it was still attached to the curtain on my left. But I couldn’t stop the choreography. So I had to add a quick bob-and-spin to try to avoid it. But then Nathan got it wrapped around him and it broke off of the curtain. By then it was wrapped around Nathan like a homocidal tinsel boa and had also attached to me across the stage. We managed to finish the choreography and get off stage but the three of us burst into laughter. In 30 seconds, that flitter almost mummified James, decapitated me and strangled Nathan. Good times. We laughed about it for the rest of the show but we also knew our choreographer, Andy, was probably having a heart attack. And when I talked to Andy afterwards, he confirmed it. He was totally horrified!!!!! Which just made me laugh even more.
So far the reviews are pretty great. Well, Kelly Nestruck has posted his first impression review and he didn’t love it but seemed to enjoy himself. Hi Kelly, s’all good. The only thing I question is your “audience reaction”. You said “enthusiastic but not euphoric”. It was pretty euphoric, I have to say. I challenge you on that one. I’d love for you to qualify that. Only because I like you and you’re reviews, because they are always thoughtful and objective as possible.
The party was fun and kooky. Everyone and their dog was there. And they were out of their minds excited and happy. And people stayed most of the night and kept wanting to talk about the show. Which is always a good sign. It will be good to get started on the understudy rehearsals. Just cause it will be good to get that under my belt. I think it’s going to be a really fun run.
Other than than, I sang at the cancer benefit on Monday. It was so beautiful. The singers were amazing. The dancers were amazing. The choreography was amazing. I ended up getting bronchitis on Sunday so that was not the greatest but I willed it away so hard that by Monday afternoon, I had most of my voice back. A highlight of the night was Broadway actor/singer/2-time Tony award winner, Gavin Creel came and sang three songs. Now I’ve always been a fan of his voice but to hear him live – wow. Such ease and beauty of tone and range and heart and warmth. It’s officially one of my favourite living voices. It was beautiful.
I may have what I hope will be a treat for you guys. I am going to have some guest bloggers from the show. Just interspersed when it seems fun and appropriate. This will not be instead of me but in addition to me. There are some fun people in the show who I would love to share some stories or a point of view.
That’s it for now. Things to do today before the show. Nice to have some time for myself today.
So what’s happened since the last installment? Well, I went to see the new production of AIDA at the COC on Monday night. Now I’m not a reviewer so this isn’t a review, just my observations. There was some absolutely beautiful singing and some very good singing. The lady singing Aida had the most beautiful voice – supple, emotional, technically immaculate. I loved listening to her. And the man who played her father, my God, an incredible baritone – dramatic, full, agile. The gentleman playing the romantic hero, Radames, and the lady playing the princess, Amneris, had very good voices but, for me, lacked the power and passion those roles really required. So the story felt a bit unbalanced. I do have to say that the concept for the production didn’t really live up to the beauty and grandeur of the music. It was rather bleak and I LOVE to have the tension of the content and physical production be diametrically opposed if it actually manages to tell the story better. But this story, which is about a slave girl who’s transcendent fortitude as an undisclosed Ethiopian princess who captures the heart of a major head of the army of the enemy of her people, just doesn’t work when she’s now a cleaning lady in an oppressive non-specific corporate empire. I just found it hard to believe this “general” would fall in love with a woman who is delivering urinal cakes to the lavatories of his boss’ business headquarters. I couldn’t imagine how that would have started. How would they have met? “Excuse me, young lady, but just looking at your ass as you squat over that toilet makes me think we should go for a drink after you’ve managed to squeeze out of your poo-covered rubber gloves.” And the opera starts when they already fully in love. I couldn’t buy it. Anyway, it was great to hear the music sung live. I’m in no way an opera officianato (sp?) but I did enjoy the score. The orchestra sounded wonderful and the chorus sang their asses off.
Other than that, show, show, show!!! We are rock stars every night. Truly, it’s been craziness. The audiences are mad for the show every night. Jumping to their feet and cheering, screaming, loving it. It’s pretty fantastic. And I’ve gotten so many e-mails and messages from people saying what a great time they had and they can’t wait to come back. I’m telling you AGAIN, Toronto is going to fall in love with this show. And Broadway is going to lose its mind. I think the show will run for years. It’s going to be a lovely way to enter the Great White Way.
On the not so great side, my feet still hurt like hell.. hahahahahaha It’s the 4 1/2 hour rehearsals in heels. The heels themselves aren’t horrible. It’s that we’re standing or dancing in them for hours. But that will be fine in a week. I love that the creative team is still being just that. They are still fixing and improving. Andy, our choreographer, is still changing and fine-tuning numbers. I do adore him. He’s always so supportive and encouraging. He wants everything to be just right and I’m always willing to make something better. He’s also, clearly, very patient as whenever he makes major changes, I screw up something a little bit a couple of times before it’s in my body since I’m not a dancer. But he’s never anything but kind and buoyant. I’m a fan.
So the rest of this week is rehearsals and shows and getting ready for the cancer benefit on Monday night, then opening on Tuesday and I think we start understudy rehearsals on Friday. hahaha Bring it. Then two shows Saturday, one show Sunday, Halloween on Sunday night (not sure what I’ll do yet), and probably something fun on Monday the day off since Tuesday is MY BIRTHDAY!!!! WOOHOO!!!! Not sure what I’ll be doing yet but I’ve got some tentative plans.
Okay, got some stuff to do then off to rehearsal. I just wanted to say hi to you kids.
We had our first 2-show day yesterday. It was actually really great. I realized that the show isn’t as exhausting when we just run it twice in one day as it is when we have rehearsal and a show. That is fantastic to know. And the crowds are loving it. The afternoon crowd was quieter but still bounding to their feet by the end. Oh yes, my friends. It’s a real pleasure to be a part of a show that is so joyful.
It’s also been really informative to have a chance to run the show several times to work out some kinks. …… I actually have nothing else to say right now. Later.
I know it’s been a few days but it’s been a busy time. We are previewing. The audiences continue to be packed and excited. They are raucous and fun and excited and listening and joyful. During the day, we are still fine tuning, tinkering, adjusting, trying to make the story clearer, the set move better, etc. (I just noticed how I use very few contractions when I write, even while maintaining a casual tone – hmmm) We now have two days of two shows a day which is actually a good thing. It will give the creative team a chance to step back and just watch it or even take a show away to clear their eyes and heads. And for us, we get five times in a row to iron out kinks without new things to do, to work out business or nerves and such. I was laughing at intermission today at how crazy our lives are and how non stop this show is for everyone, including the dressers and crew. No one in our show gets an intermission. There is so much to set up to get ready for act two that there is no time to break. Much of the act two sets pieces are stored above our heads so they have to shift everything when act one is over. And the dressers have to store away or hang up all of the costumes from act one, then get out and/or set out the costumes for act 2.
And we, as a cast, have changes to make. That’s what made me think that that I would take you through my intermission. I finish the first act in “Scottish drag”, so after the curtain goes down on Act 1, I go off-stage and hand my camera back to Jerry – who is fantastic, one of our great crew guys – then go take off my wig. After that, I go back to the dressing area and take off my eyelashes, then my sweater, my kilt, my blouse, my boobs (yes, boobs – rather ample I might add – she’s a husky Scottish lass). Then I take off my shoes, socks, and pantyhose (underdressed from a previous scene). Then I put on my robe, and head downstairs to my dressing room. When I get there, I have to take off the lipstick I’m wearing, and the eye make-up and then reapply the my base make-up: we’re all made up in basic make up from the top (basic male make-up unless you’re one of the two ensemble guys who play drag queens through most of the show). By then we’ve gotten the 10 minute call. Once I finish retouching my makeup, I start to get into my Nude Illusion suit (or as my dresser likes to call it, my Nyewd Illyeeeewwwwsion suit. It’s basically a thin stretchy suit that’s made to look like we are smooth and naked. We wear it under a couple of things. This time, it’s for the Les Girls (showgirl) number that happens in the second scene of act 2. Anyway, I put that on then put on the waist cincher and one of my dressers has to come and do me up like some half-breed Scarlett O’Hara. Tight, tight. When I can’t feel my legs, I know we’ve arrived. Then I put on my fat suit . . . . dramatic pause. Yes, I said a fat suit. I play a local bear-drinkin’ guy at the top of the second act. Then put a t-shirt on over that, then my jeans, and finally a long-sleeve denim shirt. By this point, we’ve had places call (for the laymen, that means we are almost ready to start act 2 so it’s time to get to your “places”. I grab my baseball cap which is the last bit of my costume I get into downstairs. I go upstairs and put on my Bluntstones (shoe boots) then get to my starting position. That is literally my intermission. But I gotta say, I like being busy. I like that you get on the train and keep riding.
Now on to some other Thom thoughts. hahaha It’s a wonderful thing to be doing a show that is bringing people such joy. But I have to admit to you, my peeps, that there is something a little melancholy I feel by the end and I wasn’t able to figure out what it was until tonight. I love being a part of something like Priscilla that has such magic in it but I miss being one of the people who directly tells the story. I haven’t been a non-featured ensemble member for many, many years and that’s going to be a bit of a challenge. I will need to find other creative outlets. I was writing in the last blog about how we have the opportunity to touch the hand of God every time we step onstage. Then for the last two nights, I’ve been watching Tony Sheldon craft his Bernadette with our audiences and I see the intelligence and joy and craft and skill and, most importantly, instincts of this man. It’s when you see someone where they belong, it’s as natural as breathing. And then tonight I read an interview with the incomparable Barbara Cook. She was talking about how she chooses songs, what speaks to her, how she learned to make the most of the gifts she was given simply because they were uniquely hers. I’m glad I have these upcoming concerts, teaching gigs and appearances to keep me bubbling. It’s taken me years to realize I’m a singing storyteller but now that I know that I need to be able to really do that to keep my spirit alive. I keep thinking of that great line from Mame – “Life is a banquet and most poor sons-of-bitches are starving to death.”. I have no intention of going hungry on this one-time-round. This life is not the dress rehearsal, this is the show and I want to bring whatever gifts I have to the table. I guess this is where I should be clear that I don’t mean that I regret my decision to do Priscilla. Not at all. I’m having a great time in the show. There is something to be said for not having the pressure of carrying a show. I know this is where I am meant to be right now. If I’m going to be doing a ensemble role, this is the show. It’s a hoot, the kids are great (kids, like I’m 237 years old), the leads are great, the show is a party. And I know that bigger things are meant to come of this.
I kept getting all of these signs to do this show, so I know the universe has plans. Certainly the most obvious one is Broadway, of course. That opens up so many opportunities to become whatever it is I’m meant to become. Hmmmm I guess that sounds a bit . . . what? . . . esoteric . . no . . . obnoxious? Maybe. 😛 Whatever, it’s my blog and I’m feeling all “what am I doing with my life”-y. So pbbbbssssttt!!!! Anyway, I guess as we enter our previews, I’m feeling a bit searchy – not lost, but . . . . yearning. I want to tell stories. That’s why more and more, I find myself drawn toward cabaret and concert-work. I love that you can tell the stories you want and need to tell, using music that speaks to you. That’s incredibly exciting. That’s also why I’m excited to get to New York and check out the cabaret scene. Oh, by the way, I’m still trying to see if there is a possibility of doing a cabaret before I head off in February. I’d love to have one more evening to share with the amazing people/country that has supported me and shown me such love for the last 20 years. (Okay now I am 237 years old). So keep a look out.
Anyway, where was I? Yes, yearning. I think every actor has those moments when he/she questions the choices he/she is making. Many leave the business. It can be hard on the heart and the soul. But I know I’m meant to be in the business, I’ve always known that. But I think that over the next ten years, the “how” is going to change. I have stories to tell and there are songs I want to sing, spells I want to weave. I want to re-interpret worlds for an audience that wants to come on the ride with me. I want to walk onto the greatest concert stages and cabaret spaces in the world and “touch the hand of God”.
Patti LaBelle’s autobiography is called “Don’t Block the Blessings” and I love that. I saw her on Oprah when it came out years ago and she was talking about what that means. Basically, God/the Universe/Buddha/whoever or whatever you believe in gives you gifts to use while in this life and on this earth that are specifically yours. They are to be used and shared, not hidden or denied. Miss Patti was talking about how we get so self-conscious about letting our light shine when we are only the conduits and how when we simply let the glow happen instead of try manipulate it or feel ashamed or self-conscious about sharing it, we can just get on with being our fabulous unique selves. “Don’t Block the Blessings”. I love it and think about that often.
It’s bizarre, I’ll admit this to you all right now – partly because I’m trying to be as honest as one can be in the printed public word (and it’s important to me that the young’n’s reading my blog know that everyone is human) – I’ve been so strangely shy on this Priscilla contract. And by shy I mean, unsure and not confident. I’m sure it’s something I’ll work through in my memoirs one day “The Priscilla Time”, but it’s been an interesting lesson . . . I’m not even sure in what yet. I love that everything has a reason though. It’s made me write more, which I have been really enjoying.
Oh speaking of which, an edited (by me) version of my blog for Priscilla was printed in FAB magazine. I’m leaving the link here because as you know, I’m a media whore.
That’s now the second thing I’ve published. Well, second big thing. Life surprises us – Good.
Anyway, there is no final thought to any of this. It’s 2:30 AM and I just have stuff in my head. We just started a five show weekend tonight – 2 tomorrow and 2 on Sunday. Then one more week of previews, I sing the finale for this wonderful choreographic benefit for cancer on Oct. 25, then we open on the 26. What else? There are a couple of other things to put on your calendars if you are available. I am doing an intimate evening for Acting Up Stage on Nov. 14, which is actually sold out, I think. But the other thing and I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this yet, I’ll be one of the featured soloists with Metropolitan Community Church at their amazing Christmas Eve service at Roy Thomson Hall. I’m always so thrilled and honoured when they ask me to sing with them when I’m in town. And if you’ve never gone to one, you should. They’re always a beautiful evening. I don’t have all of the details yet, nor do I know how to get tickets, etc. but I’ll share the info as soon as I have it.
Hmmm now I’m just rambling from exhaustion. The long and short of it is, I love what I do when I get to do it. I must always be active in letting it be free, in sharing it and I guess part of this blog is to encourage all of you to do the same. Follow your instincts. Sometimes we make choices that veer us away from what fills us with joy – let those be a momentary lapse or a means to an end, NOT a habit. Feast at the table of life and Don’t Block the Blessings, my darling people.
HOLY HIT, BATMAN!!! We had our invited dress rehearsal (last dress rehearsal before our first preview tomorrow night) tonight and it was nice group of people. about 300-500 people. Hard to tell in that theatre. They were nuts right from the overture. They were riding the jokes, loving the songs. Some highlights, hmmmm let’s see. Well, it was fun hearing them realize what song they were listening to and then realize how well it fits in the moment. And then hearing them react as some of the more elaborate costumes were revealed – like the funeral, the Les Girls number, the cupcakes. Fun, fun, fun. I had some friends there too. It was nice to see them afterwards and hear their reaction. All raves, which was great. The creative team was pleased, the producers seemed pleased. We still have bits to clean and some timings to finesse and some costume bits that need adjusting and will probably need adjusting through previews but that’s what previews are for.
It’s been some long rocky days leading to tonight and ultimately, tomorrow night (1st preview). Tonight was the first night everyone made their costume changes – more or less – the first time, no one tripped, slipped or teetered over in Les Girls (the showgirl number), the first time no one fell or got caught on something in the cupcakes. It’s funny to tell but in the moment it’s so ridiculous. In our run-through on Saturday night, we were coming down the staircase in our showgirl outfits and in this one particular moment, myself and Jeff, who mirrors me on the other staircase, have to walk down a staircase sideways while looking at the audience and then in two quick steps, be walking down the stairs towards the audience while looking at each other. Let me re-iterate at this point that our feathered headpieces are about 3-4 feet high and about 2 1/2-3 feet wide and moving quickly is not ideal. But I digress . . . . so on Saturday night, in that two step change, my headdress listed to the left while I was going right and I almost fell off the steps; Jeff reached over to grab me and his heel slipped down a step; then the guy behind him slipped on Jeff’s bustle and almost slipped down the stairs behind Jeff. Then a few bars of music later, Steve almost took me out with his cape and a moment later, Nathan almost fell into the orchestra pit. hahahahaahahahahaha I mean, it’s not funny but at the same time, it’s insane that we do this for a living.
Tonigh,t all was well. I won’t lie to you, Les Girls will always make us all poop our bodysuits a little but everyone says it looks SPECTACULAR!! So okay, what’s a little falling down a staircase to your death terror as long as you look good. 😉
But people are getting much happier and it was great to hear the audience hear the show for the first time. They really seemed to not only have a great time but they got the story and really cared about these men. It’s nights like this when I really love what we do. It’s chaos backstage but onstage there is magic and story and song and joy and pathos and communion. It’s what my dear friend says “every show, we, the artists and we, the audience have the opportunity to touch the true hand of God”. A group of artists and group of willful watchers are in room and you live for that moment when the truth of what is happening on stage is so pure and real – even if it’s big and covered in sequins and feathers – that everyone in the room gets it. It’s true in a universal sense. It’s touching the divine. I love that and I think of that often.
This show is going to bring so many people so much joy. This show will bring the shy out of their shell. It may plant a seed of understanding in even the most judgmental of hearts. And most importantly, it will inspire that young person (or maybe not so young person) to be who they need to be without fear or self-doubt, perhaps to be an actor and reach for that divine connection night after night, paying it forward. People who try to annihilate the arts don’t get it. The arts are life. It’s the arts that move civilization forward – clothing design, movies, TV, literature. It’s what denotes eras, epochs even. We look back at the paintings of a time, the magazines, the writers, actors, singers to know the collective consciousness. When someone mentions the 80’s, you think of the songs you were listening to or that favourite shirt with the shoulderpads or the skinny ties; you think of Back To the Future and Ghostbusters. Art makes the world go round, it opens people, it tells our stories – without it, we have no past, no present and certainly no future. I can already feel in this show, I am part of something that will be a part of people’s history, their life story.
It’s going to be a really interesting run and I’m going to try to take you guys on the journey if you’re willing to stay with me.
Suuuuuuch looooooong daaaaaaaaays!! My God, y’all. This is the point where there is no glamour in this job. Hours standing around in heels. And I don’t want you to think I’m just exaggerating. This is not one of those moments where the ladies can go, “welcome to my world”. I mean literally hours STANDING AROUND IN HEELS. Several of the costumes are complicated enough to not allow us to really undress during a short break and because they are so unwieldy in some cases, you can’t really leave the backstage area or sit down. So you start working on the tech and you stop and start, and have a break that you just stand around and chat with others who must just stand around, then you get back to work and 3 1/2- 4 hours later, you realize you’ve actually only sat down for about 15 minutes in that entire time.
Now I must say here that the costumes are amazing. Seriously, crazily out of this world fun. But it has been a challenging process to get into them and then try the numbers with them on. Everything changes. Each one of the specialty costumes has it’s challenges. By specialty, I mean the ones that aren’t just “guy” costumes. I shall give you examples. My fantastic funeral costume – the Executive Mermaid – poses a challenge in how tight the knees are and the weight and width of the mermaid bottom. The paintbrushes are challenging in terms of the width of the hips and the slight off-centred quality of the headpiece. The showgirls – which look extraordinary – have feathered headpieces that are about 3 1/2 feet tall and 2 1/2 feet wide that seem to want to become airborn as soon as you move, not to mention the issue of balance (and stairs). The cupcakes – well, imagine a 40 pound green vinyl hoop skirt around your waist that you have to spin in . . . . try changing direction in one beat. Yikes. Here’s a look at one of our swings (understudies), Josh, in a cupcake costume.
Having said all of that, the wonderful part of what we do is the problem solving. What happens in the next few days is we do the numbers over and over again and work out how to adjust to all of these obstacles. In fact, the obstacles will become a “flavour” in the number. It will inform a physical vocabulary. I kind of love that part. And Andy, our choreographer, who is amazing, is great about giving us tips or listening to what we need to help us out while maintaining the integrity of the choreography.
Morale has been mixed, I won’t lie. These days are hard. Long hours (1:00 to 11:00 for the last two days – four more days like this). The poor dressers are trying to figure out how to do the changes, where to do the changes, what’s involved in each of the changes . . . and by changes, I mean, dealing with the 300+ costumes in the show each night. Often, they have 15 people running at them at one time doing the most intricate costume changes in less than 2 minutes, less than 1 minute sometimes. They have only had the costumes for about a week and a half and most of the first week was taking the costumes out of the transport containers, steaming, labelling, organizing. And amidst this, they have still been making, finishing, and receiving costumes from other places (New York, London, Australia). But it’s going to look great. The dressers, crew, sound department are all such great peeps. They’re funny, hard-working, efficient. Lots of laughs. We are going to have a great run but we will still have a few more trying days of sorting . . . and tears. Such is the way. But it’s going to be a visual feast.
We’ve had some long days, people. And we haven’t even hit the loooong days yet. We’ve basically been teching the show for the last several days. It’s the last day of the week today and we are incorporating costumes for the first time. It’s going to be crazy but so fantastic. I can’t wait. It’s going to be a crazy. I’m pretty sure we won’t get through the whole show. There is lots to talk through as we go. Basically the backstage has to be choreographed just as much as everything offstage. Those poor dressers. We’ve had 6 weeks to get this together, they’ve only had 1. There are eleven dressers on the show already and they’re not sure that will be enough. We’re going to have almost as many dressers as people on stage. Never seen that before. But when you see the show, you’ll see why. The thing is, in the scenes with intricate, incredible costumes, most everyone is in something that is involved to get into and we don’t have lots of time, so many dressers are a necessity. I’ll let you know how it goes.
In the meantime. I’m got a couple of treats for you. Here is a shot I took of the Casino set during tech yesterday. It doesn’t give a huge idea of what is going on. It’s during a moment of waiting for something and that is Dean, our associate director, just about to walk off the stage (there is a staircase beneath him, don’t worry).
And because I treasure all of you people who read my ramblings, here is a shot of my favourite costume of mine. It’s from the funeral scene. The funeral is for Bernadette’s young boyfriend, Trumpet, who has accidentally asphyxiated. All of the costumes are incredible in this scene. The idea behind the design is all of Trumpet and Bernadette’s friends heard the funeral was the next day and made themselves fabulous couture outfits to outdo each other. The costume is minus the make-up mask and my wig, which is blond and in the shape of a crucifix, but I couldn’t resist showing it to you so you know who to look for in that scene. FYI: that’s a costume rack behind me, not a headpiece or anything.
I mean, come on!!!! And that’s not even the best costume in the show. (Well, it sort of is but maybe not the most outrageous. 😉 ) And that’s not gold on the dress, it’s black but because of the shine, it glitters whatever colour is shone on it. Yeah, baby.