Volume 3 Book 7 Part 5 of
Living in the Bonus Round
L to R: Director Ruth Hawkins, Tasha Strahan, Julie Powers,
Meredith Granger, Jon Lambert.
[ Book 3-6 ] -- [ Pt 1 ] [ Pt 2 ] [ Pt 3 ] [ Pt 4 ] [ Pt 5 ]
[ Pt 6 ] [ Pt 7 ] [ Pt 8 ] [ Pt 9 ] [ Pt 10 ]
[ Pt 11 ] [ Pt 12 ] [ Pt 13 ] [ Pt 14 ] [ Pt 15 ] [ Pt 16 ]
January 21-27, 2004.
First Week, Indianapolis.
Indianapolis Indiana USA. Outside on the ground there is a layer of ice and snow. Compare the skylines:after having just finished a tech rehearsal of TLS down at Theatre on the Square.
I should be shivering with cold but instead, I'm sitting here grinning and feeling warm and deliriously happy. This cast is great. They have wonderful voices. We have worked together for a week now and last night we had our first run-through on the set itself for the designers.
What I love about this production is the fact that it's community theatre at its most pure. Most of the workers were volunteers, students from one of the universities (Anderson U.). It's a labor of love.
We are here largely because of a man named John Doti. John saw the original New York production of TLS, fell in love with it -- he said, "There I was standing outside of the theatre at intermission with all these strangers. And we were all crying." -- and made it his mission ever since then to see a production mounted here in Indianapolis.
Producer of The Last Session, Indianapolis
John was gone for the first week because he was attending a trade show in Vegas. So when I finally saw him, I think I might have either smothered him or crippled him in Steve Hugs. He's so adorable.
I also have fallen in love with Ron Spencer the artistic director. He's so outrageous. Imagine Noel Coward and Talullah Bankhead's love child. Ron is a brilliant director, actor and artistic director. After listening through the first run-through the other night, told me, in his droll, raspy, cigarette/whiskey baritone voice, "Oh my god. The Hoosiers in this town are going to go crazy for this. I have to figure out how to get them in. I need to take out some kind of big ad." He was sitting up in the seats, BELLOWING out this huge laugh one minute and then crying like a baby the next. (It was his first time to see it. He accepted it on John Doti's recommendation.)
It felt good to be on the set at last. The stage at Theatre on the Square is very wide, so the audience is sitting right on top of the action inside the recording studio. It closely resembles the layout of the Tiffany in Los Angeles, but it's larger and wider.
Ruth Hawkins, the director, is patient with me (the big mouth) and wonderful in recognizing how precisely Jimmy's book has been written. I really enjoyed it the other night during "notes" when Ruth, the director said to the cast, "The words written by the author are perfect. Try to learn your lines exactly as written. No paraphrasing." (And of course, I've been terrible in getting my lines exactly right. Oy.)
And now that we've been doing this for a week, this new cast is finding its own unique chemistry and "voice." The "voices of casts past" is starting to fade from my ears as I listen and enjoy these new people.
Tasha Strahan, who plays Tryshia, has a beautifully delicate voice, almost like Stephanie Mills. She brings a heartrending tenderness to her verse of "The Group" and to "Singer and the Song."
Julie Powers, who plays Vicki, is opera trained. During warm-ups, she practically rattles the walls. However, on one of the first few days she told me she felt inhibited because, "I had this voice teacher who said, 'There is no such thing as a belt. Do not belt!' So each time I get to 'Somebody's Friend' I have this fear that my voice is not going to be there."
I couldn't hardly believe she felt that way, though, because she has a GREAT belt. So, I've enjoyed giving her the encouragement to just cut loose. The end of "Somebody's Friend" just tears your heart out. She's also a really heartfelt actress. I think people who know the show will really love her Vicki.
Jon Lambert, who plays Buddy, also has a great voice. I always worry about the role of Buddy because not a lot of theatre singers can hit the high G on "Going It Alone" in the soft head voice that it requires. His voice is effortless, though, and our blend is wonderful. He also, very naturally, has Buddy's tender vulnerability.
Meredith Granger as Jim in the booth is a radio personality here in town so he has a natural affinity for Jim. He's also a good musician, so we will have excellent sound reinforcement for the songs.
Ron Spencer the artistic director, after listening through the first run-through the other night, told me, in his droll, raspy, cigarette/whiskey voice, "Oh my god. The Hoosiers in this town are going to go crazy for this. I have to figure out how to get them in. I need to take out some kind of big ad." He was sitting up in the seats, BELLOWING out this huge laugh one minute and then crying like a baby the next.
And that's one of the best things about doing TLS in a new city: I feel like I have this little secret. None of these folks here really knows what they're in for in terms of the whole TLS experience. Not the cast, not the crew, not the director, not anyone. In fact, not even me or John Doti (the one person in the mix who has seen it before). The power of theatre happens on the stage with an audience. And every audience is different. And every city has a different audience.
We got a little taste of it the other night when we played a new little coffeehouse. Filled with college kids, they were totally transfixed as we sang through the songs from the show.
So, despite the fact that I'm missing Jimmy terribly, this is going to be a fun production. I'm also going to enjoy showing you, reader, pictures from Indianapolis, which I'm finding to be a city with some very interesting architecture. Indianapolis is also very clean. The streets are wide. The buildings range from downtown funky to majestic and gorgeous.
Anyway, I'm finally settled in. I'm thrilled with the production. I love the cast and crew, as well as the creative staff at the theatre.
Who could ask for anything more?
© 1996-2003 by Steve Schalchlin.You have permission to print from this diary and distribute for use in support groups, schools, or to just give to a friend. You do not have permission to sell it.