September 22, 1998
The Producer's Offices
"Good morning. I'm here, right on time. Have you seen what's happening down onstage?"
"Yep. What's with that?"
Robin called one yesterday afternoon, and today and tomorrow. Yesterday, she kept everybody working for 12 hours. I'm trying not to think about the overtime we'll be paying this week.
"Is this a good idea?"
I don't know. It's keeping everybody busy. From what I've seen, these rehearsals may not be necessary, but at least they have something to do. I think they need that.
"What about you? Are you okay? You were close to her, too."
I'll be all right. It really hasn't sunk in yet, you know?
"I think so. Whenever you need to talk about it ... well, I'm here if you need me."
Thank you. I appreciate that. And I will be needing your help. Apparently, Drema appointed me in her will as the executor of her estate. Knowing Drema, I have no idea what to expect.
"Just let me know what I can do."
I will. To business. Ready to get some work done?
"Yep. What's left?"
All the arrangements are in place for The Rehearsal. We open Thursday, come hell or high water. It's time to get back to work on Neverland.
This. Drema left this with me for you last Saturday night. It's was her present for you. Would you open it now? I'm curious.
"She gave me a present?"
She had presents for everyone. She always did that for the first preview performance.
"She was a nice lady, wasn't she?"
"Let's see ... it's a first class, round trip airline ticket from New York to Seattle. I don't understand ... "
I think I do. Are the dates open?
"Yep. So what's up? Am I going to Seattle?"
Maybe. Here, put this CD on and play track eight.
"Mama, a Rainbow?"
That's the one. Listen ... what do you think?
Here's the headshot.
"Jonathan Franks? Never heard of him."
Neither have I. Take a look at the resume.
"Hummm ... lots of Civic Light Opera stuff ... Richard III, Tempest, Christmas Carol, Secret Garden, Wonderful Life, Crazy for You, Sweet Charity, Chorus Line, Candide, Kiss Me Kate, Beggar's Opera ... looks like he's paid his dues. What are you thinking?"
He's home-based in Seattle.
"Okay, I'm beginning to get it."
This was my gift from Drema; the CD, headshot and resume. And this note. Read it.
"Darling, I hope you're not disappointed that you're not getting the usual pair of cuff-links. But, I thought you'd like this much, much more. Here's your Billy Finn! With more love than I can possibly express, Your Drema. Billy Finn? Was she ... are you serious?"
Drema was seldom wrong about casting. I think it's worth taking a look at Mr. Franks. Don't you?
"I guess I'm going to Seattle. Where exactly is Seattle?"
Somewhere on the West Coast. Take a copy of the resume and give him a call to set up an appointment.
"Appointment? Not an audition?"
See what he looks like first. If you like what you see, go ahead and audition him. See if he can belt. Let me know what you think and we'll take it from there.
Hot Seat: Theater Criticism for the New York Times, 1980-1993