Friday, December 3, 2010

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back...

Last night in rehearsal I was yet again reminded of the extraordinary level of talent I'll be onstage with in Adding Machine.  Kelly Lester, playing Mrs. Zero, my wife in the play, once again set the tone for the rehearsal by singing a couple of duets with me.  And I use the term 'with me' loosely.  Kelly sings a song and there may or may not be someone singing with her.  If there is someone singing with her no one really notices because she's an absolute vocal juggernaut.  I told her last night she was a 'freak of nature' (in a good way).  And she is. 

Then Rob Herring took over and sang his numbers.  Rob is up for an Ovation Award this year (that's LA's version of The Tony) for his work earlier in the season on Sondheim's Sweeny Todd.  He sort of 'let loose the dogs of war' last night and blew the roof off the place.  Rob and Kelly both are that rare combination of performer that sing and act at the highest possible level.

And then Christine Horn, playing my mistress in the play, Daisy, sang her songs and had everyone weeping uncontrollably.  Well, perhaps not uncontrollably, but I think it fair to say, her voice is so beautiful everyone in the room was visibly moved.  Christine has just come off a two-year national tour of The Lion King.  She's really quite breathtaking onstage.  She possesses a remarkably pure insturment.  Quite stunning, really.

And then I sang.  Or rather, I croaked through my stuff.  I told Angie last night after rehearsal that it's really joltingly clear I'm not in the same league as these guys, vocally speaking.  Fortunately, the piece is written that way, sort of.  And I stress 'sort of.'  My character has a buttload of stuff to sing, so it's not as if they can carry me. 

Toward the end of the play, I have a couple of musical segments to warble through.  I've spent so much time working on my big number, Zero's Confession, that I've neglected the other stuff to a certain extent.  Yesterday I worked on those later numbers here at home, singing them through about 112 times.  Naturally, once I got to rehearsal and started singing them it was as though I'd never heard them.  Oy.  Very frustrating. 

So I left rehearsal last night in a snit.  At myself, that is.  Alan Patrick Kenny, our unflagging musical director, is being terribly kind and encouraging toward me and my efforts.  He assures me there's nothing to worry about...yet.  Ron Sossi, our director for this astonishing piece of theatre, has clearly taken a calculated risk by casting an 'actor who sings' rather than a 'singer who acts.'. 

There's nothing to do except re-double my efforts today.  Back to the drawing board.  I reminded myself last night that the reason I took this role initially was because for the first time in years I had serious doubts as to whether I could even DO the damned thing.  I'm so used to being the 'hired gun' on a play, that I've almost forgotten what it's like to struggle with the material.  Well, last night it became clear to me all over again that this material is not within easy reach.  I'll be perfectly honest...I'd forgotten what it's like to be scared. 

Rehearsal starts today for the film version of my play, From the East to the West.  Following that, I'll be back at work on this music.  I'll do it and do it and then do it again.  Repitition is indeed the soul of art.  I will learn to sing every single note of this score as though no one has ever sung it before.  I shall 'compose it on the spot' as Alan says.  I will work as hard as I can and if that's not enough I'll work harder.  And if all else fails, I'm close to the 405 and I can always just step in front of a big truck.

See you tomorrow.