I love the music to The Adding Machine. It is brilliant and confusing and soaring and dissonant and melodic and worrisome and, ultimately, genius. Yesterday's rehearsal was all music. I actually had the hubris to think I was ready for it. I've been neck deep in it for a week now. Listening to it over and over, counting it out, tapping my pencil on the desk as I sang along with the soundtrack, completely absorbed by it. I sashayed into rehearsal thinking, "Well, at least I'm prepared." I was wrong. I was not prepared.
It vascillates from 3/4 to 2/4 to 6/4 to 9/4 (I don't even know how to COUNT 9/4!) and then starts all over again. It goes along fine and then suddenly and without warning veers into atonal stuff that makes it nigh on impossible to find a pitch. After less than an hour with the music director (an astonishingly talented young man who's done the show before in Cincinnati) my eyes were rolling into the back of my head and I was staggering around holding onto my music stand in order to stay upright.
Just when I thought I had a good, healthy chunk of it under my belt, I was proven absolutely wrong. Now, I love a good challenge, generally speaking, but good god, this stuff...
After a bit last night, Alan (our musical director) looked at me and said, "You play an instrument, don't you." I said, "Yes, as a matter of fact, I do. I've played sax all my life." He said, "I can tell because even though you're not actually counting this stuff out, many times you're instinctively doing it right...it's because you've read music all your life and something is bypassing your brain and just doing it. People who play musical insruments do that." Frankly, I think he was being kind. At one point I just stopped the proceedings and asked for a break. I told him during the five minute pause that after doing this play-acting thing for over thirty years, I knew very well when I was inside my area of expertise. This was definitely not one of those times. To his credit he just laughed and kept encouraging me.
I actually had math dreams last night.
After a few hours, the young singer/actor that plays the character of Shrdlu (real name) came in. He's got a master's in music theory. Beautiful tenor voice. Extraordinary vocalist. Within half an hour he, too, was spinning in confused circles and asking for a break.
I wish I could re-print just a page of this stuff for you, Gentle Reader, to see. It's mind-boggling. I finally told Angie last night that the best I can hope for at this stage is to simply do it and do it and do it and maybe hope for a draw. I've done some tough music in my time...Edwin Drood, Company, etc. But nothing like this.
One thing is clear: if we pull this off it will be an amazing evening of theatre. The trick, like everything else, is to get it inside me. Become so familiar with it that someone could shake me out of a dead sleep at 3am and I'd wake up singing it. Repitition is the soul of art, as Sir Ralph Richardson once said. Just do it and do it and then do it again.
Off to San Diego today for a family thing with Angie's family. Should be fun. Haven't been to San Diego since 1984. Visited the famous San Diego zoo back then. Won't have time to do that today, but it's a lovely city and one that I've always adored. We're holing up in The Hampton Inn for the night and then shooting back here for rehearsal tomorrow at noon and another long day of music theory. And I thought Sondheim could get complicated...he's a girl scout compared to Josh Schmidt (the composer of The Adding Machine).
But don't mistake my whining for dissatisfaction. I love it. I love every moment of it. I live for these kinds of challenges. I'm almost hesitant to leave for the day, just so I can get back to work on it. But I'll be blaring the CD in the car all the way there and back. Putting it inside me. Making it a part of me. Training my muscle memory, making it mine.
See you tomorrow.