Sunday, January 31, 2010

Barry's Blog: Trying to stay "Calm, Cool, and Collected"

Wow, hard to believe we are so close to performances now—10 days! I definitely feel the stress and pressure mounting, and I’m sure everyone else does, too… though they hide it much better than I do. What really amazes me are all the technical elements that will come into place in the next 10 days. Right now, we still rehearse in a rehearsal room with a piano. In 10 days, we will be on a double-decker set with costumes, lights, instruments, and props, in front of an audience. It’s thrilling and surreal. I have not had the opportunity yet to work closely with all of the designers, but that all changes in the next week as we focus on tech. Each one of them is a name I knew from Playbills and watching the Tony Awards, and someone I never dreamed I’d get to work with. One whom I must mention is our orchestrator, Doug Besterman. He did the orchestrations to Seussical, The Producers, and Thoroughly Modern Millie. He is a true master in the field and I have always loved his work, which is fun, inventive and bright. He really knows how to use orchestration to support the storytelling. For this show, he tapped into his love of indie rock. When discussing influences, we discussed the soundtrack to Juno, an album called First Days of Spring by Noah and the Whale, and the music of Ben Folds (one of my all-time faves). Needless to say I am very excited to hear Doug bring these influences to a theatre score!

Nice moment yesterday: Two of the actors were rehearsing their duet and the other two were on the side watching. Afterward, the two on the side told me they were actually watching me watch the song! They said they can only imagine what it feels like to watch something you wrote come to life so magnificently. People have told me I make crazy faces when I watch things-- like extreme agony or extreme ecstasy-- but I have no idea if that is true. What I was actually feeling yesterday while watching this duet was proud to have trusted my collaborator. The song has been in the show for the past 4 years as a quartet, i.e. all four characters singing it. Our brilliant director Kathleen Marshall suggested that I make it a duet instead. This meant a lot of work for me, but I am so glad I listened to her: the song works MUCH better now! One of the things I love about theatre is how collaborative the process is. If you have a giant ego or are unable to compromise, that is a major disadvantage, in my opinion. I know that in the case of CALVIN BERGER, the show has benefited enormously from ideas suggested to me by others. Often, what they suggest feels instinctively right, and I just go, “Der! Why didn’t I think of that?” But it’s hard to always see with clarity when you are so close to something. It’s so important to get outside opinions.

Well, time for rehearsal. Come see CALVIN BERGER, everyone!

posted by Barry Wyner

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