Excerpts From Another Cat's Diary : Chapter Six : So Many Things
If you care to read or listen from the beginning click here.
This chapter includes adult language.
Welcome back. And, thanks for reading. I’m getting a lot of lovely feedback about the material I’ve released so far and I really appreciate that. I also really appreciate you spreading the word if you enjoy what your reading.
We’re into week three now and—what with trying to keep up with the editing and the recording and my self-imposed mandate of hewing to a countdown timeline—I’m trying a shift this week in my publishing rhythm. I’m going to use the week to do the work then release the material during the weekend. It could be one chapter. It could be two or three, depending on how much material I feel like releasing.
It will all still be in order and all still delineated by day, but it will appear on the website weekly. Think of it as reading a weekly digest rehearsal report as opposed to the traditional daily rehearsal report. If you’re used to reading rehearsal reports at all. I haven’t directed professionally in twelve years and I still miss reading the rehearsal reports.
So, that’s how it’s gonna roll, until I change my mind.
Here we go…
Cats : Day Fourteen of Rehearsal
Monday, June 13th, 2016
48 DAYS TO OPENING
Say It With Donuts, The Tonys® Edition
10:30 am - 11:30 am, Studio 7A, FULL CAST, (sans Adams, Darrington, Gurr, Morgan, and Lewis), The Ball
11:30 am - 12:00 pm, Studio 7A, ADD Adams, Darrington, Gurr, Morgan
EXCERPT : Oh, Shut Up, Gurr!
Late call today.
It’s the day after the Tonys and our man, Andy Blankenbuehler, is now Tony Winner Andy Blankenbuehler. Perhaps you’ve heard of the show he choreographed last season: Hamilton? Little musical out of The Public Theatre. Look it up. You’ll find something about it somewhere I’m sure.
There’s a “Congratulations Andy” sign hung up over the doorway to 7A just opposite the elevators. (Stage Management should really be called Life Management) Andy’s not in yet. Who can blame him?
I head into a music rehearsal with Kristen, Andy Y. and Q for more work on Pekes & Polls, since we’re singing the latest version of it for ALW later this morning.
In this first session with Kristen the following exchange takes place. I am not proud of it.
As I’m singing through Gus’ lyric, “The Pekes and the Pollicles, everyone knows…”
“Not a British O sound.”
KB sees this
“Do you know you’re doing it?”
(Insult to injury)
Me: “Ohhhh, yes.”
(Hackles, Christopher. Hackles.)
KB, seeing this, too,
“Well—I’m not sure where we’re setting this—“
Me, with a tone in my voice that I am immediately ashamed of, and yet, can’t entirely soften,
“—Well— No matter where it’s set, I have no doubt whatsoever that Gus is English. Every reference he makes—“
KB, “Yes. Dick Whittington…”
Me, “Everything… But—I will, of course, do anything you ask.”
“But, it’s counter to—”
(Oh, just shut up, Gurr!)
“You know what? Yes. I’ll soften it. I won’t call attention to it.”
KB, “Yes, don’t call attention to it.”
Sing, sing, sing And I do my best to soften it.
Then at the end KB—bless her heart—says,
“Don’t let the O thing get in your way. Do what you’re doing and I’m just going to get over myself.”
I think by “get over myself” she might—and this really is a guess—she might be referring to letting go of past practice.
I’ve gotten little whiffs of oh-we-don’t-do-British-accents-in-non-British-productions-of-Cats every now and again. And I ignore them. Because if I don’t I find myself in an advanced stage of righteous indignation.
I mean, come on!
The whole fucking piece—!
But, let’s not get into that argument. At least not right now. That’s not the point of this moment.
The point of this moment is that I am ashamed. Deeply ashamed.
I really am. I have failed to be gracious, I’ve failed to treat Kristen in a way that reflects my deep respect for her and my genuine fondness for her, and I’ve failed to act in a manner consistent with my beliefs about notes.
SIDEBAR : TAKE THE NOTE
There are two rules I’ve learned (or like to think I’ve learned) about taking notes. The first is one every theatre practitioner—student, amateur, or pro—should know and which I probably learned at the knee of the fine folks who ran the south Georgia community theatre in which I was raised.
Rule #1 : Take the note.
Taking the note is (at least) a two-phase process.
Phase 1) When you are given a note say “thank you” or “got it” or “sure thing” or nod. Pick anything from the Yes column. (The actual Yes column. Not the charmless and toxic passive-aggressive yes-I-really-mean-no column.)
Phase 2) Incorporate the note. Incorporate it at least three times. (Again, actually incorporate it. Don’t demonstrate how bad the note is. Don’t mock the note by deliberately botching it. Do your dead level best to successfully incorporate the note. This is not your moment to make an editorial statement. It is your moment to live in your professionalism.)
Why three times? It’ll take that long for you—and the person noting you—to see if the note is a productive one. Give yourself, the note, and the noter a chance. Who knows? You may learn something.
The second rule is of my own devising and it is most useful further down the line of the process. Others may have come to it on their own, but it came to me while on the road with the first national tour of Spamalot. Long run, many chiefs. The key to staying sane in the myriad note sessions, often with conflicting notes?
Rule #2 : Last note wins.
I believe in these two rules.
Or, do I?
That’s why I found myself in a kiddie pool of shame questioning my own integrity.
12:00 pm - 2:00 pm, Studio 7A, FULL CAST (sans Lewis)
EXCERPT : Love And Donuts
Ira comes in to call our next break, “There are, you will see, donuts out on the table.”
Murmuring happy villager sounds.
“Please leave them there until Andy comes in so we can celebrate with him.”
Murmuring happy village agreement.
The only time I can think of when this cast will gladly hold back from those brown paper boxes of sugar and sin.
But, we don’t have to behave ourselves very long at all. As we are released from Studio B , there’s Andy, looking surprisingly bright-eyed and bushy-tailed after, what I hope, was a knock out of a night for him. There is much smiling and clapping and general celebration.
“Did you get any sleep at all?” asks someone in the crowd.
“I went to bed around six,” he says.
It’s just a bit after noon when he says this, with a charmingly sheepish grin.
Then there are some backstage stories from the night, and donuts, and then, from our sleep-deprived leader, “OK! We’ve got another Tony to win!”
And into Studio A we troop, licking our sugary paws, and—I’m sure—each of us thinking about that last declaration.
3:00 pm - 6:30 pm, Studio 7A, FULL CAST (sans Lewis)
3:00 pm - 4:00 pm, Studio 7B, Music - Lewis
EXCERPT : Dear Little Cat
In 7A it’s once from the poem and entrance and then it’s into dance land and I retire to my little spot behind the set and up against the windows. After a while, I take my score into the hall eyeing but not eating the celebratory Tony® donuts.
Lycra, y'all. Lycra.
It’s a thing.
I sit on the floor in the hall and I do a little woodshedding on Pekes & Polls. You can never rehearse a patter song too much. Never.
Our Griz, Leona Lewis, has wrapped up a session with William in Studio B and she and I chat a bit when she comes out and into my makeshift study hall.
I think she’s dear. Very sweet. Soft-spoken. Charming…what I’m guessing is some form of an estuary dialect. She’s in overalls and pigtails today. Adorable. She went to the Tonys® last night. I’m sure not in overalls and pigtails. It was her first time. Hectic, she said, but fun. I asked if she went to any after parties.
“No. I wanted to, but… I knew I’d be dead today. So…”
She shrugged and made a little girl’s pouty face. She’s a sense of humor. That’s good. A Griz who doesn't’ take herself too seriously is a blessing, I’m thinking.
EXCERPT : Andy Doesn’t Hate Me
It’s 5:20 pm and I’m released early (God bless Ira Mont) and on the way out I stop by Andy’s table at the front of the room where he’s inhaling a sandwich.
I didn’t speak with him during the congratulatory scrum earlier this morning as I did my usual hang-in-the-back-of-the-group move. I go round to his side of the table and standing next to him I put my hand on his back.
His shirt is soaked through. He’s been working hard.
I said, “I’m really happy for you.”
And, very modestly and still chewing he says, “Thank you.”
“No, really, I am.”
And I kind of go in for a little arm-around-his-shoulders squeeze.
What is it with me on this project and hugging people of authority whom I really don’t know that well at all? Gillian, Trevor, and now Andy. Who’s next? Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber? The mind fairly boggles…
I instantly start to uncomfortably over-think all this, but—as I’m trying to literally evaporate into the hall—I hear him say,
“I think ‘Rumpus’ is going to be really good.”
I turn back.
“Yes?” I say.
He puts down his sandwich.
“I do! I had to sell that really hard to the powers that be.”
Andy, “You should have seen me, acting out the whole thing in Andrew’s apartment for Cameron, Andrew, Trevor…”
Me, “I can imagine!”
And I really can. I can absolutely see Andy acting out the entire number as if I’d been there. I’ve been watching him teach and demonstrate and embody his ideas for over two weeks now. It’s no leap at all to see him bring the Pekes and Polls and Pugs and Poms and the Great Rumpus to life in front of that critical brace of Brits.
I think ‘Rumpus’ is going to be really good.
Whew. I’m safe.
Here’s a thing. Once you’ve been fired from a Broadway show, you know that you can be fired from a Broadway show. And you never, ever completely relax again.
But that’s another story. Never mind.
(More to come…)
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