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Episode 31

IT'S ONE OF THOSE DAYS

Thursday Morning, August 13
Midtown North Precinct
306 West 54th Street

Thank you, Officer. Yes, that's him all right, my partner the hardened criminal. Can you unlock the door? Thanks. I'll take it from here. My-my-my, don't we look a mess this morning? Are you sober enough to talk yet?

"Don't say it."

Say what?

"What you're thinking."

That somehow, seemingly overnight, you've turned into a disgusting drunk? That you are this far from flushing what was a promising career down the toilet? That you've gone from being one of the few people I eagerly anticipated working with every day to someone I dread and avoid meeting and dealing with if at all possible?

"You don't understand."

I understand plenty. You were supposed to start work with Annie and Robin yesterday morning at ten. You didn't show up until three. You stormed out at four thirty. At six we started looking for you. Every bartender up Broadway remembered you. Is that the sort of fame you want?

"I don't have to sit here listening to your sermons."

Actually, unless I decide to bail you out of here, you do. Someone perfectly matching your description was caught pissing in the pool on the Twelfth Night set up at the Vivian Beaumont Theater last night after curtain. They chased him, but he got away. Know anything about it?

"No."

Really? The ASM said that this guy was wearing a pair of Lion King boxer shorts. She particularly remembered because, when the guy pulled his trousers up, the tail - with the big tassel - was hanging out and bouncing around as he ran away. I seem to remember you have a pair of shorts like that, don't you?

"No."

I don't suppose you'd care to drop your trousers for a moment, would you? Just to check?

"No."

Very well. Let's move on. I got a call from the Roundabout this morning. It seems over the last couple of days you have been trying to make contact with several members of the Cabaret cast. Something about trying to incite them to go on strike? What's going on?

"Nothing. I was just delivering messages."

For whom?

"Bob."

Bob Fosse?

"Yes."

You're still seeing the ghost of Bob Fosse?

"He's not dead. We had dinner together last night."

So you've been seeing a lot of him over the last several days?

"We usually meet up for drinks and dinner and to talk."

I see. And what were these messages he asked you to deliver?

"I don't know."

Yes, you do.

"It's none of your business."

Perhaps not. But if you want to get out of here, you'll tell me.

"He's mad. They're going to open the Henry Miller next week and resume performances."

Are they?

"That's what he says."

Why?

"He won't tell me. All I know is he doesn't approve of this revival and wants it to close permanently."

These messages?

"He decided to go for the money angle."

The money angle?

"Roundabout operates under LORT contracts."

I knew that.

"He's trying to convince the cast to strike, to walk out unless their salaries are raised to Equity minimum. Why should they work for peanuts when they're in the hottest show on Broadway?"

Roundabout's a nonprofit house. They can't afford to pay Equity minimum, especially with a show like Cabaret in a small house. They'd never break even.

"Exactly."

I've heard that cast isn't happy with the salary situation, but there isn't a lot that can be done. Roundabout did, I believe, give them a small raise, as much as they could afford.

"It's still way below Equity."

Speaking as a producer, if they seriously have problems with their paychecks, they're free to leave. Any actor can be replaced. Although I would think it would be worth it, performing in a hit like Cabaret. A stint like that would be a big boost to anyone's career.

"Sure it may be worth it, career-wise, if you're one of the principals and can afford to work for almost nothing. But the kids in the chorus are just scraping by as it is. And they're working harder than anybody else. None of them have become a star overnight, have they?"

Well -

"And you're right. They can all be replaced. As you say, any actor can. But, you told me yourself, it's good business to keep your original performers. Every time you replace someone from the original cast, you lose something in the performance. That's what you said, isn't it?"

Yes. That's been my experience.

"Cabaret may be the hot ticket right now, but they can't operate at less than capacity in that house. They've got to sell out almost every performance to keep that show open. As it is, Jenny's coming in with a totally different take on her performance than Natasha's - "

Which, I've heard, is excellent.

"It doesn't matter how good or bad Jenny is. She's not Natasha. She didn't win the Tony. That's bound to have a negative effect on word of mouth. When Alan leaves next Spring, the show will play out whatever advance it has and close. But, if the audience starts walking out now, feeling they've been cheated, because the rest of the show - the chorus - isn't as good as they've been told to expect, the word will get out and the show could close a lot sooner than Spring. At least, that's what Bob says."

Okay, accepting there may be some kernel of truth in what you're saying, that still doesn't explain why you're getting involved. As a producer, it's completely unprofessional of you to stick your nose in some other producer's business affairs. It's inexcusable.

"Oh, really? Like you haven't been on the phone every chance you get this week, trying to get information on what's happening with Livent and Drabinsky?"

That's different. I invested heavily in Livent a while ago. I have a legitimate reason for my inquiries.

"Bonds or shares?"

What?

"Do you hold Livent bonds or shares?"

Mostly bonds. Why?

"You should be fine then. Bob explained it to me."

Explained what?

"Livent can't can Drabinsky or Gottlieb without offering to buy out its bondholders at a profit. You're protected by the "Key Man" clause. Just be glad you don't hold any Livent shares."

Why?

"If Livent does can Drabinsky or Gottlieb, it's going to cost them somewhere around 125 million for the bond repurchase. That would almost certainly bankrupt them and leave the shares worthless. Bob was laughing about it. He says Drabinsky and Gottlieb have better job security right now than anyone else in show business."

Hummm . . .

"So, are you going to spring me from this joint, or what?"

Are you going to get back to work and start behaving yourself?

"I'll get back to work, but not with Robin. I don't care if Drema Paige is his grandmother, I'm not going to have some 19 year old pretty boy waltz in and start ordering me - "

Excuse me? Robin's a girl.

"What?"

Robin's a girl. Her real name is Rosalynd. Why did you think she was a boy?

"Uh . . . he . . . she looks like . . . I thought . . . "

Does it make a difference to you?

"I . . . I . . . I'm sorry. I don't know why . . . I thought . . . "

Well, it doesn't matter. I think it's only fair to warn you, I'm having lunch with a lyricist/composer I may offer Neverland to. You haven't been all that reliable these last weeks, you know.

"Who?"

Steve Schalchlin. I tracked him down in California last night. He was kind enough to agree to fly back for the day and talk about the project. I may be able to interest him, especially if a Broadway production of Last Session is part of the deal.

"You wouldn't!"

Watch me. Of course, if you get your act together and show me you can work with Robin and Annie, then . . .

"You bastard."

You flatter me. Now I'm going to get you out of here and you are going home, get cleaned up, get some rest, and be ready to start work with the rest of the team bright and early tomorrow morning, right?

"You . . . right."

And while you are resting, I want you to take a look at this book, Directing Plays by Don Taylor. Pay particular attention to the chapters on how the director and writers should be working together. The Paiges have always manifested extraordinary talent at an early age. If Robin is anything like her mother and grandmother, I'm going to give her the break she wants and needs. Understand?

Don Taylor, a director/playwright of many years' standing, explores both the theory and practice of directing plays in Directing Plays, with particular emphasis on textural interpretation. He looks at the complex process of choosing a play, the working partnership of director, playwright and designer, the delicate matter of casting a play, the rehearsal process and everything which needs happen before the production is up and running.

The author is concerned to consider the artistic choices which face each director and inform every production. He gives full voice to current theatre ideologies, including that of concept direction, where a text may be used as the basis for the director's own schema, and productions where movement is the main form of dramatic communication. There are no longer right or wrong ways of doing things - Don Taylor urges only that directors work from an informed perspective with integrity and imagination.

Directing Plays

Directing Plays
by Don Taylor
List $17.99
Published by Theatre Arts Books
ISBN 0878300651


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