We got a new and old script together.
Took the best of both worlds. Primarily, me and Beth just followed our hearts, which led the show back to Indiana this fall. We planned a little road trip to do a reading of our new hybrid script, complete with new characters and a happy Irene, and to also stop in for a show with Sutton Foster at the Palladium Center for the Performing Arts in Carmel, IN. This was a good field trip, lemme tell you all about it.
We got to the Palladium and here’s what it looks like.
I couldn’t even get to the sides. Huge, beautiful, spacious. Barely even needed microphones. It was all nice and professional. Everybody on point. The plan was, Sutton was the featured event, obviously. She hooked us up hard. She did half her show, introduced us, and we did three songs from the show. Us, being, Nick, Sam Malone (current Ball State) Krystal Worrell (also, a senior at BSU) Alumni and original writer Jonathan Jensen (flew in from Kansas City!) and myself. Killer group.
Spending the day at the place was awesome. I had way too much free time. Sutton had sold out, we had a boatload of people we did and did not know showing up. Spent time during soundcheck with Michael Rafter, Sutton’s musical director as well as the music director of Thoroughly Modern Mille, and every notable run ofViolet. Sutton is always a pleasure to be around, and an inspiration. She has a calmness to her set these days that makes her so easy to watch. She needs nothing flashy, doesn’t really need anything but a piano and an audience. To barge in right in the middle of it all is a feeling I won’t forget.
We ate dinner, interviewed a bit with the camera crew from Ball State, and waited. I went to the stage and played when it was empty. I played “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen and “I Will Follow You Into the Dark” by Death Cab for Cutie. The house manager told me about when trumpeter Chris Botti played it the same way before his show. That was cool, to even be compared. I felt the gravity for a minute of what I was stepping into. Its exciting to be in a position to affect the outreach of our piece, and to be the one to introduce it to new ears.
There wasn’t a thing wrong after we were ushered on stage. I could hear everything, I felt comfortable. Adrenaline. The sound went up and up and up, it was cavernous. Jonathan sounded like a grown man, because he is, the guy sounded unreal. Everybody stepped it up. Young and old. It would be a continuing theme this trip.
It was done as soon as it started. Sutton smoothed it out and everybody went home happy. My whole family was there. Back up to Ball State we went.
I have an admitted anxiety when it comes to teaching new people this music. I had been told this was a “make shift” group of freshmen and non-majors. What it actually was, to my surprise, was a group of the most prepared and bold students I had ever seen at Ball State. Lead roles were played mostly by senior acting majors, education majors, faculty. The ensemble was mostly the freshmen class. I had a feeling Beth had prepped them to be independent, but the kids had assigned parts to the ensemble numbers on their own, and were learned when I arrived. It ended up being the most well organized performance at Ball State we’d ever done. I was supposed to cover about half the music on my own, just singing, so we didn’t load anyone up with more than they could handle. Again, kids stepped up. Karaline Feller, an acting major playing Jennie, told me she wanted to sing “Never Alone”. I said of course, and she really killed it. Amber Price was our understudy for Pearly during the production at Ball State, and played the role this time around. She elevated “Take You Home” to a new and personal place, the piece Pearly sings after Caesar’s death. I got the point where I gave anybody anything they wanted to do. I wanna keep that attitude. I like people who “do”, I need to be that kind of person to lead groups. I loved the effort, I was truly flattered and empowered.
We received a bunch of feedback after the reading from the multitude of talent at Ball State at the time. It was playwrights week, so there were people with opinions present. Which was good, but we know what’s up. The book is still not complete, we need somebody to own it. We’ve got our ideas. I’m back in love with the journey of this show. Always was, sometimes more than others. People will love it too I think, they did this past week.