Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Rehearsal #8: Making the Director Cry


Rehearsal started out on Tuesday, as always, by going over our dance moves. After weeks, I still have trouble remembering which one is which and what my feet are actually supposed to be doing. I felt bad because I kept asking Molly “Wait, which one is this one?” Of course, she’s easy to dance with as she’ll lead from the follow position.

We also practice tableaus, necessary for the opening number, and then warmed up vocally with David Norfleet so we could begin singing AND dancing. At the SAME time. Mostly this just focused on a back-up singing convention that we’ve used in the past. 3 people in a line at the back. When facing stage right, the person in front leads, making up a simple repeatable verbal phrase and accompanying gesture/dance move. When facing down stage, the center person leads, and when facing stage left, the remaining person (in the front) leads. Then whichever way your facing, you repeat that phrase and gesture, mixing it up to match the song some soloist is singing.

This is a great way to pimp a song to happen. If you know someone on stage needs to sing and David is ramping up the underscoring, grab two people, go out, and start doing this. The great part is, as a soloist, their gestures and phrases influence your song and help you out. In rehearsal, I had to do a solo for one of these. I’ll admit, I was a bit terrified having missed the last singing rehearsal, but the song came easily, inspired by the back up singing and dancing, and was one of the better improvised songs I’ve ever sung.

Then we practiced opening numbers, getting real town names off the internet (like Canute, OK) and making up interesting facts about it, thus simulating our audience suggestion. The opening song is by far the most structured song in the show. Really it’s the only structured song in the show. We don’t know what the tune is going to be and we don’t know any of the words, but we know it will go like this:
Chorus
Chorus
Verse
Chorus
Verse
Chorus
Dance Break
Chorus
Chorus

Come se the show and you’ll see what that means.

Finally we had time to work on whatever we wanted to sing. Tara, Karen, and Mandy sung a wonderful “Andrew’s Sisters” style song that became a new twist on the point-of-view song. We practiced the point-of-view, Les Miz style song that we hope to end the first act with. And Susan and I sang a love duet. Not a “falling in love” duet, but a “we’ve been in love for a long time” duet, something you see a lot in musicals but we rarely think to improvise. Our set-up was that we were doing the cross-word puzzle together in the morning. This immediately became a wonderfully impossible game (what’s a 7 letter word for city?). Then we sang. Oh, what a wonderful song. Filled with cross word puzzle clues about our love and history, it had an easily repeatable phrase to riff on (Love you. Sweet Dreams). Oh. Beautiful. And it helped to be singing it with one of my best friends in all the world. An improv highlight I’ll remember for a long time. And, it made Tara cry.

See, making the director cry can be a good thing.

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