Doing A Broadway Musical … Day 29

Tuesday …

Because we will have another audience tomorrow for our non-stop run-through of the entire show, today we worked on refining and tidying up pieces that had either not been significant enough to refine before or which still needed more work. This process will continue until finally the play is frozen, which will be months from now.

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Among the changes was a major one to my part … the replacement of the song that is the centerpiece of the number that features me as the character Joanne. This musical number not only serves to hopefully entertain but it needs to reveal more about the character that will serve to justify why the character behaves the way she does. This pivotal moment was not being fulfilled in the eyes of Jerry Mitchell, our director. So our lyricist Nell Benjamin, our composer Matthew Sklar, and our playwrights Bob Martin and Chad Beguelin, collaborated in re-working a song which had previously been cut and creating a new number that will hopefully realize what was missing. Tomorrow we will try it out in front of an audience, probably holding the pages. The number is called “Twenty Thousand People”. My fingers are crossed …

Gotta go, GOTTA DANCE.

Stefanie

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Doing A Broadway Musical – Day 28

Monday …

We had our first audience today, most of those in attendance were either investors or very close friends of the producers, the director, the writers, and the composer. We had done our warm-up earlier in the morning and we were assured that the audience would be well informed that the cast was still in rehearsals and that this was by no means a finished product. But it is difficult for any audience to understand a rehearsal process unless they have actually gone through it personally. As performers it is our instinct to perform, yet we are still not well-seeded in our parts because they are still evolving, so we gave as much as we could given our insecurities. In any event, it was good to have an audience – it was very interesting to hear their reactions, to have people laugh at what was meant to be funny, as well as to not laugh at what was meant to be funny. All in all it was a worthwhile exercise for all of us.

This is a very special time in the year as we come close to the festive season. In New York City holiday lights are being installed everywhere. Near Lincoln Center where I am living the entire neighborhood seems to be out-lined in fairy lights, circling around trees and lampposts and draped over doorways, and if you can believe it Christmas decorations even before we’ve celebrated Thanksgiving. It is predicted that on Thanksgiving Day we will enjoy 58 degrees Fahrenheit, which will be fabulous for all those participating in the famous Macy’s Day Parade. This evening I actually bought the first Christmas gift of this year, I can’t believe it, and everyone in our cast seems to be planning their strategies for the pre-Christmas sales. The madness comes earlier each year, or it seems that way, and the temperature drops down to a nice 45 degrees which made it really feel more appropriate for Santa Claus.

Gotta go, GOTTA DANCE.

Stefanie

Doing A Broadway Musical … Day 27

Saturday …

The end of another long week, maybe it’s because I’m tired … maybe it’s because I’m away from the comforts of my home … maybe it’s because of the routine of work, home, tub, watch the news, study the script, go to sleep, get up and do the same thing all over again … or maybe it is that I’m feeling deprived of my dogs, horses and my fabulous parrot … but I had a very blue Saturday. The night made up for the blues. I was invited by friends to a tribute honoring Eli Wallach, the fabulous stage and screen actor. The tribute was done beautifully by his family, fans and friends filled the SVA Theatre on 23rth Street. I ran into pals I had not seen in years, Lee Grant and Joe Fury, Joe Pantoliano (Joey Pants as his friends call him), and when I went up to say hello to Mrs. Eli Wallach, the actress Anne Jackson (I had met the Wallach’s many years ago) I introduced myself saying “Hello Anne, it’s Stefanie, Stefanie Powers” and she said … “You can’t help that!” Even at 89 the sharpness of her sense of humor has not dulled. It was a wonderful tribute, most important because my friends and many of those in the audience, were close family-like friends. If our wealth is measured in the friendships we have then Eli was a very wealthy man indeed. It was an inspiring evening and I look forward to my day off.

Gotta go, GOTTA DANCE.

Stefanie

Doing A Broadway Musical … Day 26

Friday …

I had a twitter breakthrough today, although I still need a lot of coaching, my tweets are beginning to find a following. If anyone has come to this blog via twitter, then … how do I say welcome in tweet? … chirp chirp?

You may recall that weeks ago we went through a period of time called “boot camp” for the sole purpose of getting the vocabulary of the choreography into our bodies so the movements would not be so alien to us, and for the most part it has worked very well and we are putting all the combinations together … not quite in unison yet, but getting there. At the end of the day our coordination has to be as precise as the Rockettes. We worked on our finale today, which we have learned in bits and pieces over the past weeks, and is now coming together, but the last part of today the boss turned it all upside down and created a new concept which is almost a mathematical equation … The steps are familiar but the patterns are new and geometric. How Jerry Mitchell managed to visualize it and put it on its feet is a mystery … Hats off to him!

It will be interesting if any of us can remember this innovation tomorrow.

Gotta go get a flu shot … then

Gotta go, GOTTA DANCE.

Stefanie

Doing A Broadway Musical … Day 25

Thursday …

As promised RAIN all day and into the night … oh that my beloved California could share in this, not to mention that the news from Kenya is torrential rains from the El Niño effect. It will take a lot of El Niño to refill dams and reservoirs of Southern California, so we can live in hope that the rains will be fruitful this winter.

Today we were still on Act II as we will be tomorrow, and on Saturday we will take a very deep breath and run the entire show … Act I Act II and then we will collapse.

I still feel that I have not done my one big number called “All Eyes On Me” enough times for my comfort zone. “All Eyes On Me” has been in constant evolution so I can’t seem to get it into my cells which I desperately need to do. The fact is that most of all the other numbers were done in some form when we did the workshop so they have a bit of a head start. I’m not complaining I’m just being truthful and insecure.

Gotta go, GOTTA DANCE.

Stefanie

Doing A Broadway Musical … Day 24

Wednesday …

This is predicted to be the mildest day in this week’s weather pattern, most of which is warmer than usual … tomorrow is supposed to bring at least 2” worth or rain with a temperature of 68 degrees … so wet, but relatively warm. That’s the weather report outside the rehearsal hall. Inside the climate was even warmer and the pressure to commit to the blocking and the choreography is beginning even if we are changing things as we go – that’s the part that is difficult to explain. At the same time that we know what we are doing is not the finished product, we still have to perform it as if it is.

Today’s non-stop run of Act I did find some good and worthwhile moments that doing the act bit by bit cannot show. It is crucial that we as performers can find the truth in the moments we have, even as those moments are developing. Tomorrow we revisit Act II … that will be interesting.

Gotta go, GOTTA DANCE.

Stefanie

Doing A Broadway Musical … Day 23

Tuesday …

The days go by so quickly, going back over the first act reminds us of how far we’ve come and yet how much farther we need to go. I saw the divine Audra McDonald in the elevator, she is also deeply immersed in rehearsing her show … she said, “We’re tapping our hearts out on the 9th floor.” And I said “Well, we are hip-hopping our hearts out on the 5th floor”. The building we are in literally vibrates with all the talent who are diligently working with determination and dedication … that’s a lot of D’s …

My last obligation of the day was another costume fitting. Getting the costumes right is crucial and our lovely costumers have tirelessly shopped for a wonderful assortment of styles to choose from … it’s like having a personal shopper, for as we dress “Joanne” Stefanie finds lovely bits that could nicely flesh out my own wardrobe. I am a reluctant shopper so I very much appreciate the help.

Now for my HOT date … the tub is filling so …

Gotta go, GOTTA DANCE.

Stefanie

Doing A Broadway Musical … Day 22

Monday …

This is a day that always brings new energy after a day off, it also brought me a lovely new pair of shoes … dancing shoes … made by Bloch in the U.K. complete with a 3″ heel designed to make the dancers feet look their best. But 3″ is still rather high to be jumping around in so I cross my fingers as we rehearsed a new number that I’m featured in that requires  song and dance so that the shoes have to work and thankfully they did. I will be happier when I have a few more go’s at this number to feel secure.

Our day ended with a discussion and tutorial on social media by the staff of a company contracted by the production to handle social media and coordinate what they are doing to promote the show and what we all may be doing privately that might be helpful to their efforts.

I was very interested in enlarging my understanding of twitter, most particularly how to obtain one of those blue dots that designates the tweet is actually coming from me. Apparently it is not an easy process to obtain one of those blue dots.

So I just posted a photo of my horse and it was amazing how many people responded. I don’t really understand the social media phenomena but I am learning.

Gotta go, GOTTA DANCE.

Stefanie

Doing A Broadway Musical … Day 21

We began to work on the finale of the show which we should actually call the “big finale” because it has complicated and coordinated patterns along with some of the steps we learned as choreography vocabulary in boot camp. Being the end of the week, at a certain point in the day, my mind went completely blank … it’s the damnest feeling … but slowly recall returned after lunch. I guess it’s the results of all the input from these past days scrambling around in our brains which turns to mush by the end of the week.

I truly needed a bit of R&R so my good friend Raina who happened to be free, met me for a glass of wine or two and some lovely food at Telepan … one of my favorite restaurants in New York. After dinner we walked to the AMC Multiplex and took in a double bill – the first of which was By The Sea directed and written by Angelina Jolie, co-starring her husband which is an interesting attempt at a rather retro style of film-making reminiscent of French films of the 60s … long, laborious, with not much of a pay-off. The evening was redeemed by the second film Spotlight, which recalls the Boston Globe expose on priests who sexually abused children. It’s very well acted and a good night at the movies. I really needed a good night out and it was just what the doctor ordered.

Happy Sunday.

Gotta go, GOTTA DANCE.

Stefanie

Doing A Broadway Musical … Day 19

This morning we filmed interviews and b-roll of us dancing for “NY1” which is the most popular local news station in Manhattan.

We then ran in sequence most of Act II which will be our major itinerary for the next two days. The following week we will begin a review of Act I, eventually running both acts non-stop in anticipation of the last two days before leaving for Chicago, when we will have in attendance a limited amount of invited guests. The audience will probably consist of some of the financiers, and possible potential investors, or as they are called on Broadway “Angels”. I believe the minimum investment is $50,000 so if you have loose change rolling around in your pockets I’m sure you’d be welcome to jump in.

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Our rehearsal studios, the “New 42nd Street Studios”, contain nine floors of rehearsal spaces. Rehearsing a few floors above us is Brian Stokes Mitchell … one of American music theatre’s national treasure … and Audra McDonald … another national treasure … who are teaming up to do a ragtime musical called Shuffle Along. I hope our paths cross because I’m very fond of both of them. Many years ago … many years ago … I did an ill-fated and rather unfortunate revival of a musical called Applause that had not been revived in 29 years … for justifiable reasons we found out. Audra was in the chorus, her brilliant talent was just budding at that stage but it has blossomed profusely since then. Stokes, as he’s called, I know through my friend Katie and the Actor’s Fund for whom he is Chairman of the Board and I have done many a fund-raiser concert. The small world aspects of show business is truly wonderful. In that vein, and also a few years ago, I spent a great deal of time playing Mrs. Anna in the glorious musical called The King & I, which I played in the U.K. and the USA. Both productions had the choreographer Suzie Kikuchi. Suzi’s mother was the lead dancer in the original production in the 1950s and Jerome Robbins, who famously choreographed that spectacle, named Suzi’s mother as the keeper of the choreography, which is not only an honor but a great responsibility because that person has to authenticate every step. Suzi’s mom passed this legacy to Suzi and Suzi has a daughter who is working on GOTTA DANCE as an up-and-coming thespian. This sense of continuity is very special and rare. How fortunate when one can be a part of it.

I now have a hot date with a tub.

Gotta go, GOTTA DANCE.

Stefanie