Drema! Over here.
"Darling, you found us a nice clean bench. I brought the coffee. Did you bring the muffins?"
Still hot from the oven. I wasn't sure exactly where you wanted to meet. I took a chance that you meant to say between the Delacorte and Turtle Pond.
"That's right. What did it sound like I said?"
The heliport and two ill dawns.
"Sorry, dear. I keep forgetting to put my teeth in before I start calling in the morning. Isn't it glorious weather? I couldn't face working inside on a day like this."
Did you have time to take a look at the preliminary budget?
"Of course. I've already made a couple of cuts. It's still too big. Somehow you wouldn't think that a simple two character play with no special set or costume or technical requirements would be this expensive."
Actually it's pretty much in line with what most off Broadway productions cost these days. We're going to spend a lot up front, but the weekly running costs should be low. With any luck we should recoup in about four months, maybe sooner.
"I'm planning to play it for a year, if we can keep it running that long. You take cream in your coffee, right?"
Yes, thank you. Let's take a look at the budget and see if we can shrink it a bit more.
$36,000 Scenery (Build, Paint, Flameproof)
$24,000 for costumes still seems a bit much. Could we do with only one set for each of you?
"Dear, I sweat like a pig on stage. And most men do, too. I'm not going to put on the same damp dress I wore for the matinee in the evening."
Does Coward have to wear a suit? We could save a couple of thousand if we put him in slacks and a jacket.
"It simply wasn't done. Rehearsals were very formal at the time. No man - especially Noel Coward - would have shown up in anything but a nicely tailored suit. He did wear jersey turtlenecks rather than starched shirts. We can save a couple of dollars there. And I'm sure I've got a couple of period mens silk dressing gowns in storage somewhere that we can use. That ought to save us a couple of thousand too."
The script calls for Sulka.
"They are. Don't ask me where I got them."
Shall we say $20,000 for costumes then?
"Sounds about right."
12,000 Electric - Rental
We're drastically underestimating light and sound rentals.
"No. I've got all the equipment we need from my tour stock. We're leasing everything from me and I'm giving us a really good price."
Still, only $1,500 for sound equipment?
"All we need is a board for the effects and a couple of microphones to feed into the headsets. Your theatre has excellent acoustics. I want to do this production unamplified."
"Hell, I can do it. We'll have to be careful that whoever we cast as Coward can too. Besides, it's a great hook for a little free publicity, seeing as how it not done much anymore."
12,000 Put-In Crew
SUB TOTAL $114,000
"We've already cut to the bone on all the rest of this. So the new sub total is $110,000."
Every penny counts.
REHEARSAL AND PREVIEW SALARIES
"A bit much for the stage manager?"
I want to pick him up a couple of days early. It will pay for itself in the long run.
8,100 Asst. S.M. / Understudy
"You know Lilly, my tour manager, don't you?"
I've met her, yes.
"What if we hired her to double as both general and company managers? She would do it for me and we could probably save about ten grand on the combined salary."
Could she handle both jobs?
"With one arm tied behind her back. She's the only woman I know who's cheaper than I am."
12,420 Press Agent
SUB TOTAL $147,345
"Okay, this sub total drops to $137,345."
"Why in heaven's name do we need a bloody casting director?"
Do you want to sit through all the open calls?
"No, but I'll do it if I have to. Equity may say I have to be there, but nothing says I have to stay awake."
The director may have somebody he want's to use.
"Darling, this is me our director has to deal with. No casting director in the budget, period."
SUB TOTAL $109,035
"That drops this sub total to $$104,535."
PROMOTION, PUBLICITY AND ADVERTISING
90,000 Newspaper Advertising
SUB TOTAL $219,000
"I don't see where we can cut one penny here."
ADMINISTRATIVE AND GENERAL
"Darling, $30,000 developmental expenses?"
It doesn't look like we're going to need it. But, I want to keep something in there as a cushion.
That makes it tight, but go ahead.
12,000 Opening Night Expenses
SUB TOTAL $272,500
"New sub total $257,500."
TOTAL ESTIMATED DIRECT PRODUCTION COST $861,880
So that brings this down to $828,380.
Yes, thanks. Muffin?
"Let me have the blueberry."
SUB TOTAL $65,750
Don't ask. $54,000 is rock bottom for the house. I can't go lower.
TOTAL ESTIMATED PRODUCTION COST WITH ADVANCES $927,630
"Okay, so that makes this $894,130."
BONDS AND DEPOSITS (Returnable)
52,000 Bonds (Various)
SUB TOTAL $70,000
TOTAL ESTIMATED PRODUCTION DISBURSEMENTS $997,630
"And this becomes $964,130."
RESERVES (Not Including Preview Income)
45,000 General Reserve
"Do we risk cutting the reserves at all?"
I don't see how we could.
SUB TOTAL $99,000
TOTAL ESTIMATED PRODUCTION CAPITALIZATION $1,096,630
"So, after all is said and done, our capitalization is $1,063,130."
I would feel better if we could get it down to an even million.
"I'll talk to Lilly, put her on payroll and see what she can cut."
I've got office space for her. Have her get me a list of whatever equipment she will need.
"Does it have a window? Lilly is wonderful, but she smokes five packs of cigarettes a day."
One office with a window, coming up.
"Here, take the last of the coffee. So how's your Neverland project shaping up? I haven't seen your young protégé around lately."
He's having doubts about a career in the theatre.
"Who got to him, family or friends?"
Both, I think.
"He'll be back. No one could have written that libretto unless they were already hooked. Everybody goes through that period sooner or later. When was yours?"
Right after my play failed. I ended up working in a bank for three months. Then I came to my senses, quit the bank, and started producing.
"Mine was when I discovered my third husband in a row was gay. Back then they hid everything so well, you just didn't know until it was too late. I divorced him, quit the theatre, and married the first straight man I met. A year of that particular hell was all it took to get me back on the boards."
There's a muffin left. Want it?
"Feed it to the birds. So, how long do you think before he'll be back?"
I figure another couple of weeks. I sent him a copy of the new Secrest biography a couple of days ago. He'll read it and discover that other people have suffered a lot more than he has or ever will.
"The Sondheim? I just finished it. Poor Steve. I'd heard all the rumors and stories, of course, but I didn't want to believe any of them. It really shows you that there, but for the grace of God..."
In Stephen Sondheim: A Life, Meryle Secrest draws on her extended conversations with Stephen Sondheim as well as interviews with his friends, family, collaborators, and lovers to bring us not only the artist, but also the private man. Beginning with his early childhood on New York's prosperous Upper West Side, Secrest describes how Sondheim was taught to play the piano by his father, a successful dress manufacturer and amateur musician. She writes about Sondheim's early ambition to become a concert pianist, about the effect on him of his parents' divorce when he was ten, about his years in military and private schools. She writes about his feelings of loneliness and abandonment, about the refuge he found in the home of Oscar and Dorothy Hammerstein, and his determination to become just like Oscar. Secrest describes the years when Sondheim was struggling to gain a foothold in the theatre, his attempts at scriptwriting (in his early twenties in Rome on the set of Beat the Devil with Bogart and Huston, and later in Hollywood as a co-writer with George Oppenheimer for the TV series Topper), living the Hollywood life.
Stephen Sondheim: A Life