Jon, thanks for giving me some time today. I hear you're up for the Pimpernel restaging.
"Probably not. I think Bobby's got it. He wants to open the show with Andreas singing "Vivez!" center stage, nude, in a giant Louis XIV gold and pink glass bathtub. It could work."
Did you get a chance to read the Neverland script?
"Brilliant piece of work. Needs a lot of polish though."
I agree. Would you be interested in directing it?
"Possibly. You're thinking next season, right?"
If we can get it in shape quickly.
"I might be available if we went into rehearsals around the end of October."
I was hoping for sometime in August, but we could work something out, I'm sure. What's your take on it; how do you see it being done?
"I think the key to the whole thing is the early scene with the kids. My concept would be to cast the show with children; nobody over the age of, say, 12."
Didn't they try something like that with Merrily? It bombed.
"They used teenagers. We use children. World of difference!"
Wouldn't that make the "cute" factor a little high?
"Two of the characters end up dead. The last thing an audience is going to be thinking as it leaves the theatre is that the show was too cute!"
Ummm . . . I can just imagine.
"I've got to run. Give me a call next week and we'll talk more. Later!"
So, Walter, how would you do Neverland?
"I think your author missed the boat on this one. A young boy wouldn't run off to see a Broadway musical. A kid that age would run off and join the circus, wouldn't he? I mean, it's divinely all-American! The Great Childhood Myth! I see it set against a circus background, but dark! The grimy underside of the big top!"
Like Side Show?
"Exactly! The kid's life doesn't change when he sees Carol Channing. The kid's life changes when he comes face to face with Big Bertha the elephant! Think of the number you could build around the chorus shoveling elephant shit!"
Scott, what did you think of Neverland?
"Best thing I've ever read. But not quite cutting edge is it? What would you think of doing it with an all female cast?"
That's "cutting edge?"
"It is if they're all lesbians!"
" . . . Did you see Shakespeare's R&J? That's how I would do it. Four, maybe six boys at a Catholic boarding school. No sets. No elaborate costumes. No music either! We rewrite the script in verse and recite it to plainsong. Think of the sexual tension! . . . "
" . . . just like Cabaret! Billy Finn's now a degenerate junkie who spends his life shopping and fucking and procuring young children with magical tales of Peter Pan! Think of the sexual tension! . . . "
" . . . but they're not people, you see. All the characters are giant rats!"
"No, rats! Let's expose life in the professional Broadway theatre for what it really is!"
Which is what?
"A bunch of snarling rodents attacking each other to make it to the top of the heap! Think of the sexual tension! . . . "
" . . . and giant rats, huh? Yep, people do come up with some wild ideas. Seems to me we would be better off to play it safe."
"Yep, and you've got the answer right there in the script."
"The Nuns! Do Neverland as performed as a fund raiser by a group of Nuns. Can't miss! . . ."
" . . . and do Neverland as performed by a group of gypsies. You know, like Chorus Line . . ."
" . . . and do Neverland as performed by a group of strolling players. Remember how long Pippin ran? . . ."
" . . . and do Neverland as performed by a group of homeless street people, but talented and attractive homeless street people. Remember Rent is still SRO! . . . "
" . . . Capeman . . ."
" . . . Chicago . . . "
" . . . Into the Woods . . . "
" . . . Ragtime . . . "
" . . . Sweeney . . . "
" . . . Lion King . . . "
" . . . Carrie . . . "
" . . . Victor/Victoria . . . "
" . . . Titanic"
On a stinking sinking ship?
"Well, metaphorically speaking."
. . . and every last one of ‘em could only see Neverland in terms of another show! I tell you I've heard of this happening, but it's the first time it's ever happened to me.
"You poor dear. I know it can be discouraging."
And I'm never, ever eating lunch again! Stop laughing. It's not funny.
"Darling, yes it is. And you'll see the humor in a couple of days, when you get your perspective back. Let me warm up your coffee."
Thanks. Don't talk to me about perspective. I've just wasted the last two and a half weeks meeting with some of the top directors in the world, and not one of them - not one - had any idea of how to approach Neverland.
"And that really surprises you? Milk?"
Yes, please. What do you mean?
"Darling, from what I've seen, you yourself have never been able to decide on any single approach, any concept for the production. And you've been working with the material for - what is it? - six months now? Why should they be able to do better on one reading?"
It's their job!
"I think, underneath, you're just upset with yourself. You obviously have a deep emotional connection with the material - it resonates for you, as the children say these days - and yet not being able to determine the best form for it, you are unreasonably aggravated when no one else can either. I want you to stop thinking like that right now, this instant! It's sick and counterproductive. Would you pass me that last corn muffin?"
Is that what I'm doing?
"This is the first project you've ever done where you didn't have every detail already decided before you even announced you were doing it. Well, isn't it?"
I suppose so.
"And the material itself is terribly complex, much more so than anything you've done before. I'm really rather proud of you, you know."
Proud of me?
"For tackling something this difficult. But then, one of the things that attracted you to it was that there would be no easy answers. You told me that months ago."
I did, didn't I?
"So, what are you going to do?"
Find answers, I guess.
"No. You're going to find the right answers. There's a difference."
You can say that again.
"What did Neverland remind you of the first time you read it?"
Nothing really, that's why I liked it so much. It doesn't fit into any single category. It's not like anything else. When I first read it I kept thinking of those bizarre Italian movies you're always dragging me to see.
Yes. I kept noticing elements of - which one was it? - either La Dolce Vita or Roma or both in it. Maybe we should make a Fellini movie of it?
"Don't laugh, darling. Remember Nine? That was Fellini's 8½ if I'm not mistaken. Would you do me a favor?"
"I'm going to lend you some Fellini movies - video tapes, I mean. Will you promise me to set aside a day and watch them all, start to finish?"
"I'm serious darling. I want you to watch Vita and Roma again, and La Strada and perhaps Nights of Cabiria and Juilet of the Spirits too."
I thought you liked me!
"I do, darling. That's why I want you to do this. It's for your own good."
I'm not turning Neverland into some Felliniesque musical!
"I don't want you to. I just want you to tell me why you were reminded of Fellini when you first read the Neverland stories."
You hate me. I can see that clearly now.
"And I've got this wonderful book I want you to look at too. The visuals are stunning! There has never been anything like it on a Broadway stage!"
Federico Fellini, who died in 1993, produced some of the most opulent films the world has seen. Fellini: Costumes and Fashion comprises a number of warm tributes to the maestro that recall his remarkable versatility, his artistic genius, and his love of life. Focusing on the extraordinary attention the director paid to costumes and makeup, the book contains scores of both black-and-white and color photographs that reveal Fellini's extraordinary eye for physical detail. Famous images from La Strada, La Dolce Vita, 8 1/2, and City of Women are accompanied by no less impressive stills from Casanova, Roma, and Satyricon, among others. Fellini: Costumes and Fashion will appeal to those interested in a great director's extraordinary vision and to anyone interested in gawking at some of the most astonishing and audacious costumes ever designed for the movies.Fellini: Costumes and Fashion
by Ida Panicelli, Samuele Mazza (Creator), Giulia Mafai, Salvatore Mazza, Laura Delli Colli
Published by Distributed Art Publishers