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Broadway Bound

Episode 36

FOUR DAYS AND COUNTING

Monday, September 14, 1998
Sometime around Midnight.
Armfeldt's Bar and Grill
(That new place just around the corner
from The Drema Paige Theatre.)

"Over here! At the bar!"

I'd heard about this place. But, I didn't believe it. It's all true, isn't it?

"Yep. New York has everything else, why not a Sondheim-themed bar? What do you want to drink?"

The usual.

"Frid, this gentleman will have a coffee and a shot of bourbon and I'll have a double Ibex vodka martini. And, we'll split an order of Bobby-bubis."

Dare I ask what a Bobby-bubi is?

"Sort of a potato fritter stuffed with spinach and three cheeses. It's Bernadette's recipe."

Sounds lethal this late at night.

"Helps soak up the booze. They make strong drinks here."

Have you thought about what we're going to do with Neverland, now that Anne refuses to come back and Robin is busy with Rehearsal?

"Find another composer, I suppose. Let's get it written before you hire another director."

You're still sure you want to do the lyrics?

"No, I'm not. I mean, I think the stuff I've come up with works, but I never expected it to take this long or be this difficult."

Would you be willing to concentrate on the book, if we found somebody else to do the music and lyrics?

"Depends on who they are and how well they get the show. Right about now, I'd love to go back to just worrying about the book."

Don't do anything else on Neverland then, until we get Rehearsal open. We'll sit down and take a good long look at what we've got and where we need to go with it.

"Sounds good to me. Ah, here are the drinks. Cheers!"

Good heavens, how can you down that whole drink in one gulp?

"Practice. Frid, hit me again."

Slow down a bit. Drema's meeting us for a quick conference, and I'd like you to be sober for most of it.

"What are we talking about?"

Tech issues, mostly. It shouldn't take too long. The tech today went relatively smoothly.

"Relatively smoothly? The damn thing lasted 14 hours!"

You always anticipate a certain amount of stop and start. That's what they're for.

"But, 14 hours? On a one set, two character show? What was all of that fuss about the footlights? I didn't think footlights had been used in, like, the last 40 years. Why do we have footlights on our set?"

Part of it is the script. There's that 15 minutes or so where they argue about footlights in the second act. So if we didn't have real footlights, the actors would have to fake it. Besides, it would be impossible to give the effect of real footlights without using them.

"I'll have to admit, when the electrician finally got them working, the effect was surprising."

Wasn't it? We were lucky that Drema still had that old set of touring footlights in storage. Not only do they actually date from the 1930's, but we only had to rewire them. I don't want to think what they would have cost if we had to build them from scratch.

"Well, they sure made everything look pretty."

That's the other part of the answer to your question. Properly set footlights can take 50 years off an older actress' age. Footlights make wrinkles disappear as if by magic. That's why Drema demanded from the beginning they be used. I'm glad she insisted. Those footlights make Robin and David positively glow.

"At least we know she can glow. Now, can she act and handle the part?"

Remember, this is only Robin's third day with the show. I thought she did particularly well.

"What I want to know is how the hell she memorized all those lines in just two days."

Experienced actors have a knack for that sort of thing. And, if you watched closely, she was still paraphrasing most of them. Still, it's an accomplishment, no matter how you look at it.

"I guess. You know I don't like her . . . "

Perhaps this isn't the time -

"Let me finish! You know I hate her guts. However, I will admit to a small amount of respect for what she's done and how she's done it these last couple of days. It's like you can watch her pulling her act together. And, having admitted that, I need another drink. Frid!"

Well, that's something.

"You ready for another drink?"

No. I'm fine.

"What I want to know is, when's she gonna start being funny? I mean, The Rehearsal is a comedy, right?"

Yes.

"So, when's she gonna start being funny?"

I wish I knew. Drema seems to be satisfied with what Robin's doing. I'm going to trust Drema's instincts for the time being.

"It's not as if we could do anything else, is it?"

Unfortunately, no. I will admit to being worried. Drema always managed to get every one of her laughs, from the first read through.

"The guy is good."

David? Yes, at least we don't have to worry about him, do we? Drema told me he was going to be good, but, I think even she is surprised at how well he's doing.

"It's the sex. All of a sudden he has someone the right age to play against. It's not like he's trying to flirt with his own grandmother anymore."

Don't let Drema hear you say that.

"Why not? My insurance is paid up."

You'll need it if she hears you say that.

"Frid! Encore de booze, s'il vous plait."

Perhaps I'll have another, too.

"Hold it! Look who's coming through the door!"

I don't believe it.

"Steve and Geoff, just like I told you. I believe you owe me 50 bucks? Pay up!"

I guess I do. Is he really in here a lot?

"Most Mondays around this time. They only stay for one drink. They hold that front booth up in the Passion balcony."

Will you take a check?

"Want to go double or nothing?"

On what?

"You've never believed Bob is real. A hundred says you meet him a week from Thursday."

You're on.

"We'll drink on it. Yo, Frid! Another round, my good man."

I really shouldn't.

"You take a cab home, you'll be fine. And here are the drinks. You can pay for these."

You're really something else. Frid, is it? How much?

Seven and 14 is 21.

Here's 30. Is it always this noisy?

Thanks. You're hearing all the sirens from the street. That new theatre around the corner is on fire.

Uta Hagen's Respect for Acting is that rare book which amuses and entertains while explaining - in clear, understandable English - what acting is all about and why good acting is nowhere near as easy as it looks. This is a book for people who respect - or wish they could - the theatre on both sides of the footlights; for the actor and audience who favor truth in a creative process. The constructive stages of work - the "how to" - delve into performance as well as the issues surrounding what Ms Hagen considers a desirable and necessary change in the theatre. Among Hagen's distinguished students were Jack Lemmon, Geraldine Page, and Jason Robards.

Respect for Acting
by Uta Hagen, Haskel Frankel
List Price $19.95
Macmillan General Reference
ISBN 0025473905


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Broadway Bound is written by Mike Reynolds


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