... and the dream came true!
For those of you who have been reading this column for the last five years, I'm sure you've noticed my absence lately. I've had a bunch of guest writers filling in for me while I've been working on a musical revue called Showtune!. Well, we opened two weeks ago in Las Vegas, and I have to tell you it's been one hell of a ride. One thing I have learned is that showbiz people are insane, but truly remarkable.
Writing an original musical revue about Broadway, and my love for it, seemed like a piece of cake, but my oh my, did I learn a lesson! Originally, I thought I would just do this little cabaret thingie, but then the show took on other proportions. Choreography, sets, lighting and all that other stuff came into play, much more than I could handle. Fortunately, I got involved with a whole bunch of creative people who shared my vision.
I don't want to go into all the details, but it's pretty much the Broadway process. Concept, ideas, selling the show, casting, rehearsals and opening night. It also meant bringing in a doctor at the last minute. David Tapper, who's had experience at Signature Theater in Washington, D.C., came in a week before opening and did some pretty amazing things. You've read about it endlessly. But to live it, for me, was a thrilling and terrifying experience.
Cole Porter wrote the lyric, "one week and it couldn't be worse." How about "one day and it couldn't be worse?" Our dress rehearsal was performed in the dark. The lighting board had not been set yet.
Jim Green, our lighting designer, calmly told me not to worry.
When you do a show in Las Vegas, and you don't have your own theater, you have to use a rehearsal space (thank you Liberace Museum), and then move the show into a theater, perhaps 3 days before you open. There is no preview time, so you open whether you're ready or not.
And so we opened our little musical revue called Showtune! and just let it fly. Tony Delvalle in Las Vegas Life reviewed the show, as well as the critic for the Las Vegas Review Journal, Carolyn Wardle. Tony says "it's got some damn good singing" and Carolyn opened her review with "Showtune delivers."
And, I might add, the lighting was as if there was never a problem.
As much as I like getting favorable reviews, it's the audience that I really listen to. They do the most amazing thing when that curtain goes down after act two. In unison, they jump to their feet and give the cast a huge standing ovation.
I've seen many revues done by various companies which salute Broadway and it's all the same ol' stuff. Showtune! needed a concept and it was given to me by Mike Corda, who wrote the music to "We Are The Dreamers" an unknown song which I felt needed to be heard. With lyrics by 3 time Academy Award Winner Paul Francis Webster, it's an anthem to those who have gone before us and left their mark on the world. He gave me the song to use in the show, and from there I just knew where to go.
But it's the cast of the show who are pretty amazing for their vocal and acting abilities. They're just tons of fun! And here they are, the original cast of Showtune!"
(From left: Ted Candalino, Joy Demain, John Ivanoff, Martha Watson, and Garry Leigh Douglas, all of whom contributed greatly to the creative process). And special thanks to Betsie Sanders (Mame, Hello, Dolly!, Broadway company), for her choreography.
"Got the dream, yeah, but not the guts?" Yeah, that's how I felt until a wonderfully talented actress challenged me to write this revue. Thank you Joy Demain for giving me the guts and realizing the dream!
After this weekend Showtune! will move to the Pahrump Winery Festival for outdoor evening
performances on August 9, 10 and 11. After that the show is booked in 3 other venues in
Nevada. Who knows where we are going next?
Conceived by John V.J. Gillespie
Showtune! is funded in part by grants from The Nevada Humanities Committee, Nevada Arts Council, and the National Endowment for the Arts.
Summerlin Performing Arts Center
Showtune logo by Miner Miracles Graphics - Ann Miner
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