Dear Encores! Diary,
That’s right, we had our dress rehearsal last night, a week and a half after beginning the entire rehearsal process. The entire 2,200 seat theater was filled with friends of the cast, crew and employees of City Center. And they went wild! It was fantastic to have the show in front of an audience, because there are so many laughs and applause-fueled encore after encore. The entire show finally got what it craved and deserved: the love of an adoring audience.
The first part of the day was filled with tech notes and fixes from our twelve-hour tech process the day before. Then in the afternoon we incorporated David Woolard’s costumes for our first dress rehearsal, and they looked FANTASTIC. The entire cast looks so elegant, and both Megan Hilty and Rachel York, as well as the female chorus get some of the most beautiful dresses ever. And not to spoil anything, but there are some hilarious headdresses for the chorus of dancers that are almost as large as they are!
Then the cast got a couple hours break to prepare for the final dress, before the doors opened and friends came pouring through the doors. There were a couple schools in the house, as well as a generally younger demographic of guests, creating a very vibrant and youthful atmosphere. There were even tittering and chatterings of excitement from the school groups as the lights dimmed before the show. I’m sure that the television show “SMASH” has something to do with the appeal of this show for younger audiences, and what a great thing to be attracting younger audiences to the theater! After the show everyone was overjoyed with their accomplishments, and we’re all invigorated for opening night TONIGHT! Wish us leg-breaks, and don’t forget to book your tickets before we’re sold out!
Dear Encores! Diary,
As the picture indicates, we are finally in the beautiful City Center theater, putting all of our hard work on stage! We had the entire day to rehearse the show prior to entering tech (which we’ll tackle on Monday). Instead of imagining all of the scenic elements that were taped out on the rehearsal room floor, today the actors got accustomed to using the stairways, bringing large props on and off through rather small entrances, and tried not to get lost through the oftentimes circuitous backstage hallways. We also got a chance to see how half of the stage is occupied by risers for the 32-piece orchestra, elevated above the actors. When they take their places at the rehearsal Tuesday morning, it will an impressive sight as well as sound.
John Lee Beaty’s set pays homage to elements from the original 1949 staging, while allowing for higher tech updates–most notably the way it works with Peter Kaczorowski’s colorful lighting. We all can’t wait until tomorrow when Peter will be lighting over our rehearsal and we’ll also begin to incorporate David Woolard’s costumes. Since it will be our longest rehearsal to date (our one ’10-out-of-12′) we’ll hopefully tech through the entire show with extra time for work-notes and finessing. Then we have our dress the following day – It is all happening so FAST!!!!
As an SDC-observer, I am learning so much from watching John Rando work so swiftly. He and his assistant director Stephen Sposito work in tandem to implement all the changes and notes to the cast and crew as efficiently as possible. With everyone hustling about communicating with different departments, I am happy to be useful as another set of eyes and ears for John, furiously taking notes and implementing small fixes. The whole production feels like a well-oiled machine as we careen happily towards opening.
I’ll bring full updates on our tech tomorrow — I can’t wait!
Dear Encores! Diary,
Today was the first day we got to hear the 32-piece orchestra, and I’m speechless. The entire cast, artistic team, Encores! staff and investors gathered at Carroll Music on West 54th st, and assembled tightly into a studio so full of instruments that there was little room for humans. Conductor Rob Berman stood front and center, raised his baton, and we fell in love for the next three hours! The first note of the overture hit us like a Mack truck of unbridled energy, and didn’t let up until the final encore. I really can’t express the thrill of hearing this music played with such a full sound, and when you add the chorus… it reaches full throttle.
The music isn’t just catchy, it’s completely infectious. And FAST. Many times, when Rob would stop to correct a phrase or practice certain measures of music, the players would ask, “Is that truly the tempo??” Their notes seemed almost impossible to play with such speed, and Rob would simply reply, “I know it’s fast, but that’s what he wrote!” ’He’ of course is Jule Styne, whose widow was actually present during the sitzprobe, smiling with glee at hearing this old gem again. Rob has such an impeccable ear, he even stopped a couple times because he could detect a single note being played incorrectly. A single note in a 32-piece orchestra playing at lightning speed.
Also present was Jack Viertel, Artistic Director of Encores, who oversaw the proceedings (and brought baked goods). The whole experience was an even greater burst of energy as we enter the final stretch of rehearsals. Tomorrow we’ll be working on stage and on the set for the first time, followed by a much needed day off. When we return on Monday we’ll be teching until our invited dress rehearsal on Tuesday. Break legs to all!
Dear Encores! Diary,
Well we finally made it to our first run through, and WE HAVE A SHOW! All the designers were present, furiously taking notes in preparation for tech, and the room was filled with laughter and applause. At this point we have rehearsed 99% of all the group numbers and transitions, so tomorrow will be spent finessing the final parts, before we all get the best present in the world: to visit Carroll Studios in the afternoon to listen to our 32 piece orchestra! Up until now, we have been rehearsing with a single piano (played with precision by Nick Archer), but to hear the full band sound in conjunction with the large chorus will be incredible.
Before beginning the run-through, John reintroduced some of the designers to the cast, and many of the names were preceded by “TONY nominee…” That’s right, it’s award season in New York, and the TONY nominees were announced on May 1st. Our talented team includes the following nominees: David Ives, who provided our concert adaptation (nominated for Best Play – “Venus in Fur”); our scenic designer John Lee Beatty (nominated for “Other Desert Cities”); our lighting designer Peter Kaczorowski (nominated for “The Road to Mecca”); and our sound designer Scott Lehrer (nominated for “Death of a Salesman”). So there is no doubt that the production will look and sound amazing – congratulations to all the nominees, and break a leg on June 10th!
Let us not forget the costumes. The brilliant David Woolard is adorning everyone with a plethora of furs, feathers, flowers and DIAMONDS. After all, you can’t have a classic number like “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend” without carting on tons of those brilliant rocks. And for a look into the archives, I’ve attached videos of Carol Channing and Marilyn Monroe singing that quintessential number. Just wait until you see what Megan Hilty does with it…
Only four more days of rehearsal – full reports coming soon!
Hello Encores! Diary readers,
It’s hard to believe that after just three days in the rehearsal room we are getting ready to put all the pieces together for a stumble through. Today was spent with the entire cast and and artistic team in the large rehearsal hall, working transitions between scenes, songs and dance breaks. And it all flows so seamlessly! Jule Styne incorporated many different styles of songs into “Gentlemen”; some harkening back to Vaudeville, some beautifully-rich showstoppers, and a handfull of hilarious character songs… and the fact that they can flow from one to another is a testament to the comedic timing of Rando, Skinner & Berman, and will make for such exciting variety for an audience.
To know that in less than a week 2000 people will delight in this material each night is invigorating. As Dorothy Shaw (portrayed beautifully by Rachel York) sings, “I love what I’m doing”… and that’s certainly true for all involved with this production. From principles, to production assistants, to this SDC observer, smiles abound.
In fact, check out yesterday’s v-blog post to see Rachel singing a bit of “I Love What I’m Doing,” a flirty number where she get’s to quote: ‘fondle beautiful men.’ The men, to whom she refers, are our talented group of male ensemble dancers and they really knock this one out of the park with sheer athleticism and precision. Both the song and the dance definitely rank as one of my all-time favorites from the show.
After a day as full as today, we all deserve a restful evening before heading back in for tomorrow’s run-through. I’ll see you all then!
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, the third and final Encores! production of the 2011-12 season, is now in rehearsal and will run from May 9 – 13 at New York City Center. Gentlemen Prefer Blondes is being directed by John Rando with music direction by Rob Berman and choreography by Randy Skinner. We were on hand for a press rehearsal today and we bring you interviews with the cast and creative team and full coverage of the rehearsal!
It was another explosive day at City Center, for the intrepid cast of “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.” Every floor is abuzz with energy: dancers working independently from the ensemble, who are one floor up from the principles, who continue to tackle staging with director John Rando. In the afternoon, the entire cast convened for a press junket, where we could finally see everyone else’s hard work. Dozens of cameras clicked away as three or four numbers were performed, including Megan Hilty singing “I’m Just a Little Girl From Little Rock” (pictured). The excitement was overflowing, as the real beauty of the music, harmonies and rhythms began to show through. One can only imagine when we hear the full orchestra (our first chance will be at the sitzprobe on Friday).
After the junket we continued with the full cast, staging the big opening number, “It’s High Time.” The movement of 30 people across the large stage became fluid and effortless; a true testament to Randy Skinner, Rob Berman and John Rando’s clear vision, easy communication, and to the professionalism of the entire group. In the number, the entire cast excitedly boards the boat “Ill de France” where they plan on celebrating through frivolity and drink (the year was 1924 so Prohibition was in the air). Madness ensues as the boat departs, and it’s a great way to launch the show.
Two more days of leaning all the pieces before we assemble them for our first runthrough on Thursday evening. The designers will be present, so everyone can be prepared for our quick tech process. Kudos to everyone for such hard work!
Until then, Jimmy Maize
Hello “Encores! Diary” readers,
Welcome to the inaugural blog post for “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.” I will be your humble guide behind the scenes, watching all the magic unfold in just over a week (!!!). As an SDC directing observer, I am a fly on the wall of the directing process, watching the incredible John Rando helm this gem of a piece with a dream team working incredibly hard to pull it all off. With Rob Berman as musical director, Randy Skinner choreographing, David Ives offering the concert adaptation of Anita Loos‘ snappy book, and the incomparable Peter Lawrence keeping us all organized as Production Stage Manager; we are in for an exciting ride.
And then there’s the MUSIC! Jule Styne‘s gorgeous jazz score will played by a 32-piece orchestra, sung by an immensely talented group of ensemble and principles, and with such standards as “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend,” “Just a Kiss Apart” and “I’m Just A Little Girl From Little Rock” it’s going to be a feast.
Our first day consisted of the energy-fused meet and greet, followed by dancers, ensemble and principles breaking off into separate rehearsals to work diligently. Being a directing observer, I spend most of my time these first few days with the principles working through the book. As I write, I am listening to Megan Hilty belt her way through “Diamonds..” and I have goosebumps. The same material that propelled Carol Channing to fame on Broadway in 1949 and was later immortalized by Marilyn Monroe in the movie version, is going to be so electric in the hands of Hilty. (and given her role playing Monroe in “Smash“, seems extra prescient.)
I look forward to tracking our progress over the next week, through just four more days in the rehearsal room, three on stage (including tech) and opening a week from tomorrow. It seems impossible to put up a concert version of such rich material in such a short time, but IT’S GOING TO HAPPEN. John’s done over nine of these for New York City Center, and he compares them to ‘throwing a bouquet to the audience.’ The music is the thing – to get a TASTE of what it must have sounded and felt like to hear this material in its original 1940′s splendor. They really don’t make them like this anymore.
Today, New York City Opera announced its 2012-13 season, including four new productions, to be staged at BAM and New York City Center. This exciting event marks City Opera’s return to where it all began in 1943, when both organizations were founded. Now, almost 50 years after its last performance there in 1965, NYC Opera returns to its midtown roots.
Read Full Press Release (PDF)