Love / Reason / Belief
Volume 4 Book 1 Part 10 of
Living in the Bonus Round
Liz and Janeece enter for the last bow.
[ Book 3-10 ] -- [ Pt 1 ] [ Pt 2 ] [ Pt 3 ] [ Pt 4 ] [ Pt 5 ]
[ Pt 6 ] [ Pt 7 ] [ Pt 8 ] [ Pt 9 ] [ Pt 10 ] [ Book 4-2 ]
August 29-31, 2004.
"No More $5000 Dresses For You!"The next morning, the cars taking us down to the Sunday morning rehearsal for "Africa" had to cross all the way over to 5th Ave because everything was blocked due to the Republican Convention and a planned morning protest march.
Lepolion Henderson Jr. (my new adopted son)
Folin Ponce De Leon
We got to the Chelsea Studios in time, though, but all I saw were policemen lining the streets. Way down at the south end, I could hear a man's voice over a loud speaker system saying how they would go to Central Park whether the city wanted them to or not.
Upstairs in the rehearsal room, everyone was gathering for the last time. It was a jubilant rehearsal but touched with a tinge of sadness because, as Jimmy put it in his opening remarks, "This will be the last time all the people in this room will be together."
The company at rehearsal.
Back row: Jim Brochu, Mark Janas, Jim Meade.
Middle: Karena Mendoza, Lepolion Henderson, Monique Whittington
Eric Anthony, Sharyon Culberson, Gerald Richardson
Front: Rachel Cerrone, Jasmine Randle, Folin Ponce De Leon
Janeece Aisha Freeman, Giselle Vaughn Ruecking, Charissa Armon, Skipper Cooke.
Missing: Tim Ewing, Liz McConahay & Julie Reyburn.
Sharyon Culberson (back), Jasmine Randle
Monique Whittington & Eric Anthony.
Eric Anthony & Janeece Aisha Freeman.
Chipper Cooke consults with Mark Janas, musical director.
The company sitting in the window sill.
Eric rubs composer Karena Mendoza's back.
Janeece is going to be a Broadway star. Her voice is unbelievable.
I found a wireless connection and responded to emails while the cast was in rehearsal. When we got out, it was time to head down to the Village for the matinee, the last performance of this incarnation of "Africa & Plumbridge."
Jimmy and I sat on the stoop there in front of the theatre and I just turned on the video camera and let it roll as people walked by and birds sang, and car horns honked. It was another moment of beautiful stillness and we pondered what it would be like to move back. We love our home in L.A., plus there's the cats, but we miss New York theatre. It's like New York lives for theatre. And though Los Angeles produces some great theatre -- like us, for instance? -- it's not like New York. I feel, sometimes, like I live on a tropical island rather than in the thick of it. Do we need to be in the thick of it?
As curtain time approached, everyone started arriving and there was a big line out the door of people clamoring to get in. But nothing was happening. When I went over to investigate, Mark told me that the big equipment truck with the set pieces and the musical instruments had been stopped by security and they were going through each box, one by one.
Then we got word that they passed inspection and were five minutes away.
Meanwhile, the line is getting longer. So they start letting people in and once again, the house was jam packed. Sue went forward and introduced the creative team and then told everyone to go see The Big Voice. (She's such a classy dame).
The audience loved the show. At one point, when Dr. Spense's wife is told, "The party's over, Claire," someone in the audience said out loud, "NO MORE FIVE THOUSAND DOLLAR DRESSES FOR YOU, GIRL!"
Everyone broke up. It was a great time. The cast kicked ass. The show played like gangbusters. I even got to visit with my old pal "Deborah Garwood." She loves horses and I showed her the racetrack footage I took last month at Hawthorne.
After the last show, we retreated to a Mexican restaurant for our final goodbyes. It seemed impossible that all this work has happened only in the past two months. They went from first draft workshop to second draft performance in New York in less than two weeks and were rewarded with near sold-out houses and enthusiastic audience reactions. The few reviews that came out were mixed, as we knew they would be. Jimmy has one big rewrite planned for the next incarnation and then, hopefully, that will be it and the show can be properly mounted.
After dinner, a bunch of us went back to Mark's apartment where we stood out on the stoop and talked about the big awards ceremony being held for the Fringe. Exhausted, Jimmy and I opted for the hotel as we had a lot of packing to do. We fell asleep early knowing we had an early morning to get on the plane and get home.
When we woke up there was a message. It seems Mark and Karena went down for the awards ceremony and, sure enough, "Africa & Plumbridge" had won a NY Fringe award for BEST MUSICAL SCORE.
Honestly, the whole experience, harrowing and crazy to try to do so much in such a short amount of time, proved to be a glorious and artistically fulfilling time for everyone. And I can't say enough about how none of this would have happened without the drive, inspiration and determination of Sue Carey who lived the life depicted on that stage, and who brought this whole company together with love and dedication.
After the show, Sue turned to Jim and asked, "Okay, what's next?" Jimmy turned to her and said, "End of act one. Now we step back. I'm going to take a full week off. It's time for intermission."
So, we landed safely, got the car from Ernie, got the cats from Mo, went out grocery shopping, turned off the phones and now that I've finished downloading all the pictures of the trip and have written up all these diary entries, I'm going to take a LONG nap. Well, except for the fact that in three weeks we open Big Voice in New York.
But I'll worry about that tomorrow. For now, I am compelled to take this nap because guy who is writing this diary has decreed it to be...
END OF VOLUME FOUR, BOOK ONE.
© 1996-2004 by Steve Schalchlin.You have permission to print from this diary and distribute for use in support groups, schools, or to just give to a friend. You do not have permission to sell it.