Woweee what a week. I am trying to keep my pledge and get a few blogs in while we are rehearsing the Mickey and Judy show. It has been nutty - and it's now 12:45 and I still have to stage 'good mornin' for tomorrow's rehearsal...but I'll try and give you a little somethin' somethin'. Obviously one of the great joys of doing, rehearsing and getting to watch this show has to be David who plays Mickey.
David and I go back and we have been through some crazy jobs together working for some wacky people. The great thing is that David and I pretty much know we can really trust each other - and we know that with each other's help we can pretty much manage to pull a pretty darn good show out our butts in a short amount of time. David and I have such a good time that before he arrived Rich said "You know when David is here, you two have to WORK, right?". And apparently right before he got on the plane, David's boyfriend Adam said "You know you and Joel have to WORK, right?". But the crazy thing is that we actually have the most fun WHEN we're working - so we've been working. A LOTTTT.
For various reasons, David arrived several days before Jill. Obviously this makes our rehearsal period even more condensed and looney - but the good part is that David and I were really able to work on the script. This is the first show we're doing at the Supper Club with a real story - where people are acting as characters. For two hours Jill and David ARE Mickey and Judy - which is a huge undertaking... and even if their performances were brilliant - it wouldn't matter if the script was the pits.
Thanks to the ridiculous wonders of technology (and the influence of the all-knowning, great and powerful Oz...I mean Oprah), we did a read through of the initial script. On Skype... Days before Jill actually MET us, we were working with her in our living room. Jill had the idea - and it was GENIUS...
In the process of this conversation I double checked with Jill about few things in anticipation of her arrival. I wanted to find out if Jean Anne had to deal with any vegetarian things or whatever. So i said "do you have any food restrictions". Jill replied: "Well. I don't like mustard".
I think we can deal with that. It does rule out going to "Mustard Etc", "Mustard Garden" and "Mustard King".
And we worked through the material and got a sense of the script... And the sense was: Too long. Wayyyy too long. I figured I'd have to cut about five pages when we started rehearsal. I was completely off base. I had to do drastic cuts. It wasn't that it was boring - these people led amazing, funny, fascinating lives. It was just TOOOOO much. We weren't doing a mini-series. So with David's imput, insight and insanity - I started over four days going at the thing with a chainsaw. And by Thursday I had the thing down from 69 pages to 49. I cut TWENTY PAGES people. That is no small feat. And, as one of my mentor's always taught me, good cuts only make a play better. It's amazing - when you make a GOOD cut you never miss what you took out. You don't even notice it's missing. And that's the case. I actually am really excited about the script now - and the kids are dong a great job with it.
As I toiled away on the script (which of course WASN'T part of my intended schedule - which meant i'm frantically trying to catch up with the rest of my crap)... We worked away at teaching David all his stuff and getting everything on tape to send Jill. And this show is a LOT of work people. We're doing 49 pages of dialogue... 22 songs... and it's all shared between these two actors. It's like climbing mount everest with vaseline on your shoes.
And immediately into the process we already had some classic Tim moments. When he was fooling around with figuring out the intro for one song, he stopped and said "Sorry, that was too Chewback-y". We all were trying to remember exactly WHEN Chewbacka had become known for playing the piano, and developed a recognizeable musical style of his own. (It all conjured up images of Rolf the muppet dog at six feet tall). "WON'T CHEW PLAY ME A JAZZ HOT BABY?"
Eventually we determined that Tim had said "Shoo-boppy" (an equally mysterious definition) - but it was almost as good his vintage classic "I don't mean to be church-jerking you".)
While David and I were trying to move mountains (and Jill was in New York trying to prevent her brain from exploding with all the material she had to learn faster than a speeding bullet), we were ALSO getting ready for a really special visit from one of my favorite people. Nope, not the easter bunny. Better. One of my favoritest people in the solar system, John Cariani, came to visit us. John had been trying to visit us for six months now. He had booked flights on three occasions - and every single time he got a job. He's a brilliant writer and a tony nominated actor (for Fiddler on The Roof on Broadway)... here he is with Alfred Molina: About a day before he was supposed to arrive he kept having to call us and say "i just booked a Verizon commercial..." and then the next was "I just got a Broadway tryout with Rachel Dretch as my girlfriend"... so we forgave him. He was also coming because Rich was going to build a website to help promote his BEAUTIFUL play "Almost, Maine" which I worked on in New York. The play is getting done all over the country now - it's so exciting.
In preparation for John's arrival we were trying to get the apartment tidied a little (as much as one can tidy something that looks like the set of Independance Day, Dantes Peak, and War of the Worlds combined. I had also wanted to get the upstairs carpets cleaned for a LONG time - and Rich was delighted that I got a bee in my bonnet and felt like it needed to be done during this, incredibly CALM AND UNBUSY week. But I did.
We hired a wonderful guy...who happened to be an Eckert (what, an Eckert in Huntington? Nooooooo.) He had to drag a big hose through the lobby up to the apartment so he needed the far doors opened up. Rich was upstairs and David and I went to do it. For like five minutes David and I were pushing and pulling and nudging and coercing. A large part of this time we were pushing the door the WRONG direction to open. I finally said - hold on and ran upstairs to get the pack leader. Now, Mr. Eckert knows we've renovated the building ourself...and as I disappeared he looked at David and said "Sooo, of the three of you fellas...I'm guessing Rich is the mechanical one?".
Just a tad.
Having John here was crazy - because I wanted to spend all my time with him (instead of rehearsing) - since he was only here for two days (it was supposed to be three but he got stuck in Chicago :( ) But he and Rich got a lot of planning taken care of on the web site:
And we also figured out that a song we thought originally should be a great big fast swing number was actually a zillion times better as a slow, gentle soft shoe. Who knew? David. That's why we love him.
In the process of the day, Po and John became very very very fast friends. Except for one problem. Po, seemed to think John was another dog. The only reason I think this is because she started doing something she has NEVER EVER done before. Rich gave her a 'busy bone' as a treat to keep her occupied while he and john were working (and therefore not giving Po total undivided attention (where does she GET that from?????). But for the first time EVER Po became obsessed with hiding her bone. She was CONVINCED that John wanted it. And by total accident every time she would stash it somewhere, John would sit on it - or be looking at her JUST as she was hiding it... it drove her NUTS. It was the wackiest thing. Like I resorted to taking her into the bedroom and HELPING her bury it under laundry so she would be content!
But despite Po's consternation - they got it pretty great... Po even helped John work on a new play:
I think it's called "Top Dog/Weiner Dog".
John was just so enthusiastic about everything - he thinks there is so much value in us 'making something real' - and something that really matters to a community. And he's from a really small town like Huntington, in Maine, so he loves areas like this. I wish he could have stayed longer cuz we had a great time... but he says he'll be back.
The moment finally arrived for Ms. Garland to appear... So David and I went to the airport to pick her up. I'd never been to the South Bend airport before - so of course I got very excited for some ridiculous blog photo opportunities...
During the three hours in the car (there and back) we worked the whole time... it was actually really helpful - because it's such an enclosed small space that it's really MAKES you be natural - which this material HAS to be. It can't seem like a script - it has to seem like they are improvising all their banter on the spot... David and I ran lines on the way there (my Judy sounds somewhat like Liza Minnelli channelling Bette Davis), and then once we had Jill they started doing the scenes together like Mickey and Judy were on a road trip to Notre Dame.
Our waiter was, I think, new. And hardly had the strength to deal with our mirth. He kept saying "us" when he was serving me. "Can i get us some cheese?". "Would WE like another soda"? I was like "If WE'RE eating all this food together, I'm expecting you to pick up half the check".
He was very confused. I don't think they prepare them for Jo Jo in the manual.
Anyway - poor Jill has been shot out of a canon. it's like being duct taped to the outside of a space shuttle launch. But she is INSANELY good. I'm soooo excited and impressed. It is now almost 2:00 am and I've got to get some sleep - but we were all together for our first day today and we did a marathon 12 hour rehearsal. She and David are working soooo hard. We're really lucky to have two people who care so much about what they are doing. And just LISTEN to Jill on her first day on the job....