Posts Tagged ‘Bob Fosse’

I am super stoked for rehearsals to begin for White Christmas. Only  8 more days.  In order to get inspired and to ready myself for all the hard work that goes into a show, especially one as big as this, I wanted to see some dancing.  Of course I have to start with something Bob Fosse from My Sister Eileen…

And then play you something from what would be a dream role for me!  Enjoy…”Glory” from Pippin starring Ben Vereen

This next one is just plain fun!!! “With You” by William Katt (Or as I like to call it, The Garden Dance) also from Pippin.

If you really want to get inspired, check out a few of the clips I added to the Dance page!!! “Hand to Hand” will melt you!!

On Friday, I got an email from Bill asking that I come to the paper tech rehearsal that night.  A paper tech rehearsal is a meeting between the director, the lighting designer, the stage manager, the producer (sometimes) and from what I learned that night, the choreographer, too. During this meeting, lighting cues are discussed while combing through the script, and sometimes other issues like set change problems.  Well, as I said before, I had no idea that I was supposed to be part of that, and I sent him a reply email that I  had made plans for Friday night.  Those ended in disaster, thanks to parking issues.  I did go to the meeting beforehand, but only could stay for an hour.  I felt like a jerk for leaving, even though they said that it was fine that I leave.

Today, Bill sat with me for a few minutes before (he’s an intense fella; see the video at the end of the post), we began our cue-to-cue session (it’s basically, setting the lights for the actors through out the show, and a lot of time is just the actor standing) and told me that next time I work on a show,  (The fact that he thinks I will do another show in this capacity is encouraging, I think)  I should think about what I wanted the “look” of the number to be.

I never really thought about that aspect of the numbers.  Because of this, I spent the rest of the day analyzing the dances of the show.  I know that I made some choices that a lot of people will stand on their soapboxes and decree as blasphemous, because I didn’t copy the original show.  Here’s a couple of examples:

Big Spender:  Bob Fosse kept the hostesses behind the bar and singing in their poses until they got to the chorus in which they would then explode with energy.  For 95% of the number, the ladies have blank expressions on their face showing their jaded disposition regarding this life.  It’s genius.  However, I wanted a more visceral and predatory in your face type of number. Watch closely, and you will see some of the things that the ladies refer throughout the show.

Something Better Than This:  When I see this number, it’s always a huge dance number, but it hardly ever has any meaning behind the steps. In the original production and the movie, the dance builds as each of the characters begins to believe their dreams and dance with glee.  To me,  the hostesses are in their situation because they either don’t have a choice or like Rosie, they go into the business just to earn some quick money, and then get comfortable with that life.  Because of this, they find it hard to leave.

Rhythm of Life: Bob Fosse almost always pokes a fun finger at religion.  In the movie, when the assistants roll up the doors to allow the congregation in, there are a few people walking and sounding like zombies.  When other people have done this number, it’s usually just about the hippie-ness of it all.  For me, I find that religion is a little crazy with a pops of logic sprinkled in for fun.  I’ve tried to show this, I hope you can see it.

I don’t want to give too much away, but I just figured that this wouldn’t be something the public would get to know.  Since that’s what this site is all about, why not give you some of my thought process.

But back to my thoughts about my vision…while the numbers are sort of what I want, but I had to simplify a lot of what I really wanted.  The changes were made for varying reasons.  So, while I am pretty satisfied with the project so far, I think once the show opens I will be SOOOOOOOOOOOOO happy.  The cast has been wonderful to work with and I would love to do so again.

Speaking of people that I would love to work with again, Bill Starr is a great guy to work with.  I’ve learned quite a few things from him this go round. I worked with him back in 1995 when I played Tulsa for his version of Gypsy.  It was so much fun, but so much work.  Late nights during hell week, and would find me sleeping in the wings or the isles.  Pretty much anywhere that was flat.  Even though, it was 15 years ago, Bill is still intimidating.  And active!

Last night the cast had a vocal clean up rehearsal.  Keeping to my promise of working numbers out over the course of the week, I got there at 5:30.  We went over Brass Band, not as many times as I wanted, but more than we have had the chance to do in a single rehearsal.  On Tuesday, I had taken video of the run through and showed the cast how close they are to getting the dances down.  I think they need to see for themselves that the steps are in their heads, they just have to stop over analyzing.  The great thing about a Bob Fosse show is that he uses musical cues for so many of the steps that when creating something in this style you have the music to help guide you through.  In most productions, I’m A Brass Band is done as a tap number (in the movie Fosse didn’t have them tap nor in the Broadway version), with huge chunks of music edited out for not only time, but for ease of creating a piece.  The steps in my version are simple, but the fact that they are interchangeable create a barrier in the mind that you have a choice as to which step comes next.  Luckily, we have muscle memory, and I emailed detailed notes to everyone after the dances are complete.

At 7:00, when Rachel, our music and vocal director came in, we switched gears and began singing.  Listen to me say “we”.  I didn’t sing.  They sang, and they sound great.  Rachel is concerned about the breath because after the dances, you can hear that they are low on air.  However, I fully believe that since they didn’t sing while they rehearsed the dances, that is the cause of the problem.  With practice, they will get it, and as we head in to “Hell Week” they are going to have plenty of time to practice this.  I planned on heading home once Rachel got there, but she said that she wanted to fix a couple of things and have the people run the dances.  I went home to grab a bite to eat and when back at 8:00 like she asked.

Rachel Michelberg (Musical DIrector) works with Ian Teter on Cry at Weddings.

The cast ran through Rhythm of Life.  Looks pretty good.  I will make some small adjustments.  SMALL.

Brass Band: Once they get the trumpets for the jazzy part the ladies can really put the hurt with that body swing and contraction step.  Then the percussion will be a huge help for the section that it’s ONLY percussion that’s playing.  Will change one step for the ladies.  At the end, have to get that jete on 7-8.

Cry at Weddings: Just have to get Herman to address all of the cast at the beginning.

Not too shabby. Not too shabby at all.