Blog of Christmas (almost) Present.

So obviously I've been tied down with getting the show ready - and obviously I have not yet mastered the multi-tasking blog thing. But I'm gonna keep working on it.Actually if it wasn't for everything that I was trying to accomplish at the same time with The Tempest I would have been doing ok... it's just that when I'm NOT working on the show I'm sitting in front of the laptop trying to figure out which "thees" to cut and which "forsooths" to keep.

The Holiday show has been running now for a while and we seem to have found our stride. It was mega weird doing the show BEFORE Thanksgiving - but now the audience is in the spirit and dressing festively and it's a whole lot of fun.

There are one or two pre-Supper Club events that I really do want to catch you up on - particularly the EVIL DAY OF THE NEW SEATS.... but I'm gonna do that later.

We were all a little harried at the start of rehearsals because all of our extensions had pushed our opening day up so much earlier than anticipated it meant the actors had been given less time with their music than we'd hoped, I'd had less time to write the script than I should have (we wanted it done by the time they arrived so that it didn't involve 1:00am sessions of communal editing); and - most importantly - all of the construction work on the bar and the catering area had to be completed in way two weeks less time than planned. And because it was already in mid-construction there was no way to back peddle and say 'ah well - we'll do it next time'.

OH SURE - WE CAN MAKE MARGARITAS ON THIS... WE'LL JUST SAY THE FURNITURE WAS INSPIRED BY 'THE BEACH'. bar-frame.JPG

In fact the extension meant that one of our merry band of four wasn't able to join us until two days after rehearsals began. Kyla had been booked for a job during that period and had to leap onto a plane right after her performance was finished. So for the first two days it was just three Musketeers.

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By the way, Brendan is not wearing a Madonna-mic in rehearsals - he just likes to keep a pencil tucked in his baseball cap. It was particularly fun to have Justin here and learn just how great he was, since he was (just like Jordan this summer) somebody we cast via the internet and video - rather than having met him in person. For some reason we got lucky with both Jordan and Justin - and he's spectacular - one of the best baritones we've seen in auditions. He's super tough on himself because he doesn't read music as quickly and learn harmony as easily as the other kids - and this is a tough gig for that kind of stuff.

As we began to rehearse Janice - who has been here almost constantly helping out since the actors arrived - began to buzz around us decorating the lobby for the holidays. And, frankly, she got a little obsessed. We reached a point where the actors were afraid to stay still for too long because they might get draped with garland.

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Finding the tree itself was no easy task. If it's something the Najuch's will not tolerate it's a skimpy tree - so after hitting every tree purveyor in the county (AND ohio...AND New Hampshire) they found a nine-footer that they liked.

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After much discussion we settled on the lobby being decorated only in browns, coppers and golds - and it looks AMMMAAAZZZING. She actually still hasn't stopped. She added little garland surrounds to the Palm lights. I never realized that O.C.D. actually stood for Obsessive Catholic Decorator.

After two days of solidly attacking all the harmony stuff and solos, when Kyla arrived it was a little bit like trial by fire - she did fantasically - particularly since she's Jewish (shhh don't tell) and she had to learn EVERYTHING from the ground up.

KYLA IN THE MUSICAL VERSION OF 'THE SCREAM'. kyla-first-day.JPG

Actually - I have to say, I was a little disappointed that Jesus Jim hasn't been showing himself around next door as much as this Summer. Cuz I figured if he learned there was a new Jew next door, all kinds of hilarity might ensue... Candlelight Vigils. Exorcisms...

The actors settled into Huntington and Peckerwood very nicely. (The boys had negotiated their own rooms in their contracts which neccessitated the front room area having the always-intended door installed lickety-split. Rich put in the pocket door (one of his new favorite obsessions) and voila - instant new bedroom. The biggest challenge they've had was the weather... Not helped much by the fact that they're from places like Miami and Texas. Just like me - they ain't built for sub zero. But Rich made sure the boiler was working at the house and we furnished them each with space heaters. Of course, as always, there's always something you can't anticipate. And this is an OLD house. And the electrical is not as efficient as one might hope. So apparently in the middle of the night - a Gremlin - whom the actors have named Tom - likes to flip the breakers on the fuse panel. See all those heaters use a lot of power - so with four running at once in a house like that - it's a field day for...um...Tom. Mostly it's under control - Rich swapped out some stuff and futzed. And so far we haven't had to go over with blow driers and defrost any actors frozen in ice.

JOEL, BRENDAN'S GONNA BE LATE FOR REHEARSAL... luke-ice.jpg

Considering the frequency with which Tom has been paying a visit, they've all be fantastic sports about. Frankly the lobby itself - where we were rehearsing every day - wasn't all that warm either. This summer we did a lot of music rehearsals in the catering area - but now that was in mid- construction. And the bar area was certainly not an option either. So we had to be in the lobby - and have the heat going (which, of course, ain't cheap). The real problem was that the staircases at the sides of the lobby go straight up into the balcony - with no way to seal them off. And since heat rises - and the auditorium itself is like the polar ice caps (pre global warming even) the heat just swooshes along the ceiling up the stairs and goes poof. it was goofy enough that if you stood on your chair you actually feel the temperature rise by like ten degrees between a two foot area. Seriously. If you squat up and down it was like Menopause the Fun Fair Ride.

Sooo - when Bob visited he put his giant Najuch brain (baseball caps don't fit those boys nogins for nothin') he went to work coming up with a solution to try and create a seal between the lobby and the balcony. He built these amazing frames across the staircases and then used foam insulation sheets to make a kind of a lean-to on each side.

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Which Madge then went at with her electric carving knife to trim the stuff to fit...

I KNOW IT'S STILL A LITTLE RARE - I'LL CARVE IT ANY WAY. madge-trim.JPG

And these things are ingenious. Janice painted them all black and they completely disappear from sight and INSTANTLY the room stayed so much warmer. We still get drafts from under the doors into the auditorium and from outside - and Madge is half way through custom making us super duper draft-stoppers for each door... Right now we've got towels stuffed in the gaps from inside the theate - but we manage, most nights, to keep it pretty toasty. The circulation in the room is ALSO greatly helped because the Pack Leader knuckled down and finally bought the matching fan for the outer lobby that I had wanted so badly. It looks fantastic - really gives the room a focal point - and now keeps the heat moving around in there a lot better.

And as we kept pluggin' along with music...LOTS of music... This show was a little longer than the ones this summer and had a TON of four part harmony music in it...

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JUSTIN'S SOLO IS A BIG HIGHLIGHT(ER) OF THE SHOW. brendan-choir-boy.JPG

It was a challenge for everybody - because we had no alternative but to all be working around each other. We would have to sing over whacking and pounding and garlanding - and the others would have to grumble under their breath when we had to ask them to stop using the hydraulic stapler for a few minutes while they were trying to learn complicated harmonies. It wasn't easy for either team - but we managed....and everybody tried really hard to be as quiet as possible so the actors could work. It got tricky when we were trying to do acting stuff particularly - cuz trying to figure out how to act a serious song is not easy when you've got folks walking in and out of your eye-line constantly...but heck...it'll be good practice for them when their working in movies and there are sixty crew guys behind the camera!

And in the midst of it all - actually I believe while we were rehearsing 'Snow' we had our first flurry of the winter... first-snow.JPG

Meanwhile - the Pack Leader was seriously raising the bar.... but more on that later. I'm gonna try and keep at this. Promise.