I sat on the toilet, a little longer than I might have, and wept.
Congratulations on reading on to the second paragraph. I know I wouldn’t have. I swear this isn’t one of those blogs that’s all about the author’s emotions. And the subject is certainly not anyone’s digestive system. It’s all about writing musicals. So how can the toilet sentence possibly relate?
Monday we’d somehow scheduled 13 hours of rehearsal for the new revue of my songs, Things We Do For Love. Naturally, during such a marathon, nature calls, but rehearsing needn’t stop, since cast member Brad Siebeking is always able to fill in for me on the keys. Where we rehearse, the men’s room is right next door so, if you’re perched on the throne and quiet, you can hear pretty well through the shared wall. Every few seconds, a huge burst of laughter came from the rehearsal room. Like the film cliché where an uproarious reaction emanates, with steady frequency, through closed theatre doors.
This made me so happy, I started to cry.
The euphoric, creative, and hysterical process of rehearsing Things We Do For Love is due to the personnel involved. The six performers are all very funny people, but the tone is set by director Justin Boccitto. He creates an atmosphere where all feel free to contribute excellent ideas about how to make things funnier. So, as the minutes fly (and it really didn’t feel like that many hours), the humor quotient goes up and up. The business they came up with while I was in the can had to do with using belts as a plucked string bass. It may not sound brilliant in the description, but when you see it, it’s hysterical.
This spirit of innovation, this playground where wild ideas can be explored and wild business invented, is also part of the nature of shows that are being created for the first time. Things We Do For Love, the cabaret containing more than twenty songs out of my trunk, is being formed before my eyes. We can put anything we want into it. But I tend to attribute our feeling like giddy mad scientists to Justin, since I’ve worked with him on several already-written musicals, and a similar ethos has dominated. While songwriters can always show you their work, usually on a recording, sometimes on the page, and I’m always up for singing at a piano, directors’ work must be seen, in the theatre, for you to understand its true quality. So, when I urge you to attend, it’s not just so you can see what I can do; I’d hate for you to miss Justin’s brilliant work.
And I had another thought this week (not on the toilet). The show tune isn’t done when the songwriter dots the final half note or crosses the final T. It’s got to be staged to become a piece of theatre, something the audience experiences. Not just words and music, but actors’ interpretations, choreography, staging, what intentions are being played, what notes are being spun by the voice. Most of the songs in Things We Do For Love, in fact, have been staged in the past, but as Justin Boccitto newly fashions each one of them, it feels like we’ve just given birth to something new.