The Better Than Expected Tour
Volume 4 Book 5 of
Living in the Bonus Round
Alexandra Billings and Steve Schalchlin
rehearsing "How Do You Fall Back In Love."
[ Book 4-4 ] -- [ Pt 1 ] [ Pt 2 ] [ Pt 3 ] [ Pt 4 ] [ Pt 5 ] [ Pt 6 ] [ Pt 7 ]
[ Pt 8 ] [ Pt 9 ] [ Pt 10 ] [ Pt 11 ] - [ Book 4-6 ]
October 15-16, 2005.
Alex in the Afternoon.An afternoon with Alexandra Billings is one of the great pleasures of the universe. It's nothing less than a privilege to be in a room with someone so hilarious, so intense and so talented all at the same time. Alexandra is a believer and she makes me a believer, which is dangerous since I'm already a believer -- meaning I'm still naive enough to "believe" that there is absolutely nothing that cannot be achieved.
Or maybe it's more accurate to say that when we sing, we both mean it. It's totally and completely real. Love it or hate it, if we're singing it, we're meaning it.
[These pictures are from the video camera I set up near the piano to record our rehearsal.]
Alex mugging for the camera while I'm out of the room.
She also did some naughty things unbeknownst to me.
Those will be available on a pay-per-view basis.
But back to "meaning it." I remember, during the early stages of The Last Session, one of the actors had a line in a particularly emotional moment and this actor wasn't quite sure how to approach it. So he asked Jimmy, "How do you want me to say this line?"
Jimmy looked at him and said, simply, "Mean it."
Alexandra also brings a female voice to my songs, something that's been missing for a long time since Jimmy and I do "Big Voice" as duet and I haven't really pursued anything else.
We started with "You Are A Stranger." As we went through it, Alexandra began rearranging a few of the musical phrases, making it a little more her own. I tried, frankly, to just stay out of the way. She has a perfect instinct about what works for her, so when she comes up with ideas, I just go with them and, sure enough, they almost always pay off. And if they don't, we both can hear it.
After "Stranger," I pulled out one of my new songs, "The Craving," which is about someone struggling with an unnamed "addiction." Since I knew Alex had gone through drug addiction, as she details in her musical, "Before I Disappear," she seems to feel this song on a very fundamental level. There is also nice place for us to harmonize.
Since this is all new to us, and we're only BEGINNING to discover where our voices can go, it was easy to get very excited at little surprises. It's one of the things I love about singing with others. What we do together is completely and totally unique. Doesn't mean there won't be people who'll probably just hate it, but it's entirely us.
Alex and I really blend well. In fact, she's beginning to adopt some of my phrasing and vocal placement and I'm finding myself adopting some of hers. It makes for a deep emotional connection that almost feels like making love -- and I mean that in the most innocent, yet deeply sincere way. It sometimes feels that profound. (I think that's why I love music.)
Soon, we got to "How Do You Fall Back In Love?" It's the big, as they say in the theatre, "11 o'clock number" from Big Voice. Until now, it's only been sung by two men, Jim and me. I've really been anxious to finally hear it sung as a male / female duet. Alex had the same instincts I had, to approach it like a pop song rather than a theatre song. It just felt more honest for the two of us.
The time flew by. After she left, I totally collapsed on the couch and slept for a couple of hours. When Jim woke me up for dinner, I didn't know if it was morning, noon or night.October 17-19, 2005.
The big nominee luncheon for the Ovation Awards at La Mirada Playhouse, an absolutely gorgeous theatre about a half hour south. (That was the site of the first Ovation Awards ceremony where The Last Session was up for Best Musical. It was the night Carol Channing stopped the whole ceremony to give us her "Diamond Award" when we lost to "Reefer Madness.")...
Ovation Luncheon.HURRICANES AGAIN:
Today I received an email from my brother. He and his wife are down in the Gulf of Mexico taking a little vacation at Playa Del Carmen. Right in one of the projected paths of Hurricane Wilma or Wilbur or whatever it's called. Only the strongest hurricane in recorded history. He has been assured by the hotel that they will be transported to something dry should the storm actually hit them, but it's still scary. He said to watch CNN, that they'll be the ones hanging from the palm trees.
Monday's adventure with Alexandra had to do with computers. Hers had suffered a fatal error so, since she's out here and Chrisanne is back in Chicago, I offered to take her to a computer store and pick out something reasonably priced but contained all the "stuff" she needs to feed her Internet addiction, not that I know anything about that.
But, more practically, she needed her email so she could conduct vital business. After all, she does have a show running! (I keep forgetting I'm the musical director. Not that I'm not proud of our work together, but that for me it was more like playtime -- and, oh yes, these songs are in a fully produced play running right now in Los Angeles. See what I mean? It's just a charming little corner of Steveville, my disconnect from reality.)
Over at her place, I helped set up the laptop, uploaded Avast! free virus killer, de-installed Norton (which I loathe), turned on Windows Firewall, downloaded FireFox, told her never to use IE and to never open any attachments from anyone, especially attachments they've received from other people, etc., and then set her home page to her email. (We think a trojan or some other virus is what killed her other computer).
I felt so geeky. But it gave us a great excuse to hang out, chat, watch "All My Children," talk about tacky celebrities, famous people we know, etc. She's singing on a TV show on the Q Network this Friday and one of the choices is her version of "You Are A Stranger," for which I've now made backing tracks.
The day before this computer fantasia with Alex occurred we were at the big Ovation Award nominees luncheon, which was a very classy breakfast buffet in the beautiful new lobby of the La Mirada Performing Arts Center. The last time we were there was for the actual Ovation Awards ceremony where Carol Channing stopped the show and insisted on giving "Jim Brochu and Steve Schalchlin" (say it in Channing's voice) "my special Diamond Award for The Last Session." (She thought we had lost. We actually hadn't yet. She had only announced the award for the big theatres. However, after we got our Diamond Award, which consisted of two Montgomery Ward plastic rings off her fingers, we did lose to "Reefer Madness," now a movie on Showtime.)
I was excited because it was, as I previously mentioned, a total shock to have been nominated for Best Lead Actor in a Musical. I know there's not a chance in hell I'm going to win the award itself, but at least here at the dinner I can have my three seconds of fame as I go to the front to get my certificate of nomination. Then it would all seem real.
© 1996-2005 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.