A new reading begins

 

We start rehearsal today for the reading a week from now, our preseason for Goodspeed. With bumps.

I’ve been battling a sciatic nerve problem, which hit its peak while I was at home in Indiana this past week. I was immobile for the better part of three days, and missed my flight back to NYC. I ended up patching up the show from the living rooms of my parents’ homes. Which was good Indiana authenticity, I might add, but bad for timing.

We have a busy team. During the week my medication rotation was kicking my rear, muscle relaxers would put me out for hours on end, my Internet was spotty, and I’m sure I kept my music director Matt Hinkley up later than he would hope waiting for my materials. However, I feel good about the show. Our new storyline is bold, different, and makes sense to me enough now. I’m happy the new ideas are things I identify with.

There is a strange unfamiliarity at 10am on this Wednesday. To the cast, a new show, brand new music they’ve never heard of sung, it’s high, it’s 10am. I feel bad at times like this for writing A’s for men, but I’m a Kander/Ebb advocate of the idea that emotion creates adrenaline which creates strong sound.

The room is not so unfamiliar to me, I recognize it from last May. Pearl Studios 12th floor, room 09 is where our reading was a little over a year ago. Where Sutton last sang my stuff, where Claire Buffie essentially earned her place as our social media/marketing superwoman, my first meeting with Hinkley, fiddler Justin Smith, a hybrid band of NYC and Indiana musicians. But none of them are here now, Beth isn’t here and that’s weird. Sean stops in quickly, gets the call that our lead is out, and dashes out before we can even talk about football.

Just me and Hinkley, which is basically just Matt. I’m blogging. He’s teaching.

Matt is great. GREAT at his job. Everyone who knows him would suggest the same. He gets through rehearsals calmly, happily, honestly. There is no reason anyone would ever have a problem with his style of teaching or musicianship, Im lucky to have that. I’m learning always with him, and we’re just starting.

We’ve been scoring out music in tandem. I put down the melodies and basic interpretations of the guitar work, and Matt moves all my harmony voices into the proper registers, formats the page, labels like crazy, makes it look beautiful. We work out of a cloud-based website (if you don’t know what this is by now, where you been?) called Dropbox, I upload my stuff, he downloads it, edits, and puts it in a new folder.

But THEN: we have archives. This is not Matt’s first rodeo, he’s a Texan after all. When we change things from now on, we “Save As” instead of “saving over”. It’s important to do this, because not every change will stick. The number of times we’ve changed something only to go back to the first try is too many to count. I always keep old versions of things, but, if you asked me WHERE I keep them, that’s a barrel of worms. The Circus score has transcended three different computers, and I feel like files are floating around on my desktop, in loose leaf forms when I clean my apartment (my dog loves the taste of sheet music) so it’s nice to know Matt is letting me into his methodology. I want to be able to do all the things he’s doing with the Finale program, I should be able to. To be self sufficient is a beautiful thing, but I have a long way to go before I’m a boss like Hinkley.

The notes are filling in. We have about 2/3 of the cast today, “Higher Ground” is coming to life, slowly. Half tempo. But it’s so great to hear it again. I had some lucky guesses in school.

While I’m ramble blogging, I think about that a bunch. “Lucky guesses”. In Higher Ground, I have the ensemble moving in thirds, and I leave the altos isolated on the flat 7, a simple change, that makes the entire sound dissonant, but it’s very elementary. I just said, yeah, that sounds cool. Same thing with the end, it was just playing around with recording, or Finale, essentially throwing darts at the staff. But how TOTALLY IMPORTANT is that? Sometimes more recently, the older I get (the more “professional” I get, whatever that means) I start to be kind of pompous when I talk to myself when writing. I think of it as IMPORTANT, my PRACTICE, study. Scholastic junk.

I do much better when I go with my guts, and act like I know nothing at all. React to the guitar, respond honestly, and music just happens. I guess I’m wired for improvisation.

And now it happens. Actors come alive as they start to understand this music, they get excited about it, because they don’t really know yet what’s coming next. And that’s what experimentation gets you I think, let people who perform your stuff be allowed to walk in your shoes in terms of discovery, be confident in your findings.