Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Who ya been lovin' since I been gone?

Good Day Everyone!  I hope that everyone who reads this is doing well.

I realize that it's been a while since I last posted.  Every time I've tried, something has come up.  Therefore, here I am now, and I have a lot to catch ya up on.

We have finished blocking the entire first act as of last night, and let me just say...this show is going to rock and/or roll the entire evening.  Everyone sounds amazing, and seeing the designs for the set has made this whole experience even more real for me.  I'm going to be the second person ever to play the bass Whiffle (he doesn't have a name in the script, but you can call me Brad).  As we block and rehearse each scene, everyone is bringing their own little tweaks and perks to the material.  We are essentially creating a new(ish) work the minute we step out on the stage, and I wish I could just watch it happen.  Happily, though, I am a part of it. :D  

A few of my favorite bits about this show (so far)
     5. Ryan and Taylor killing it every time they do "I'm Infected"
     4. Ari singing "Jukebox Jamboree".  He hits it, rubs some funk on it, then hits it again.  
     3. Singing that awesome doo-wop background to "Girl, Can I Kiss You?"  Still my favorite song to sing in the entire show.
     2. The Teardrops...period.  I honestly think they are going to stop the show several times in the first act alone.
     1. Being a Whiffle.  That's the simplest way to put it.  It's been a long while since I sang some honest-to-goodness 4-part harmonies.  This is what I was raised on; what made me want to join St. Matthias Choir (and be the only boy for the longest time); what made my 4 years at DeSmet worth it: being able to sing barbershop/doo-wop/4-part anything.  It's my destiny, much like Lenora is Cry-Baby's destiny.
     .5. Terrie singing "Screw Loose"/just being Lenora.  She's that good.

As I said before, my Whiffle name is Bradley.  That's not all though.  My prisoner name is Hugh, and my Drape name is Terrence (many thanks to Dupree for the name).  More on this to come.

Along with the blocking rehearsals, Robin has been teaching us some killer choreography.  I know for a fact that it nearly killed me the first time...'ahem'... Bad joke aside, I haven't danced this hard in the longest time.  I would greatly advise everyone to invest in Bayer aspirin til the end of March.  Their stock might be rising some.  After watching myself in the mirror, and some of the dance videos, I don't know how the hell my body is doing some of the things it's doing, fucked up knees and all.  (For those that haven't noticed it before, my natural stance is first/second position.  I like to think I'm a little duck-footed).  Now all that needs to be done is to practice til the cows come home.

Well, I must get going, so I leave you with my new favorite rockabilly song.  Have a great night.

PS: I thought of this earlier last week, but Terrie put this song on her blog earlier, reminding me of it.  One of the all-time great doo-wop songs from the 50's. First, what Terrie posted

This is what the Squares would listen to.  Perfectly acceptable in its own way.  Now the next version, the original version from 1954 by the Chords.  I believe this would be the Drape version.  Your thoughts?


Friday, January 13, 2012

Bum Bum Bum Bum...

We finished learning all of the songs this past Tuesday; therefore, it's time for the read-thru.  I have never been more excited for a read-thru than this one.  It's amazing how well the cast envelops the story through the music, but I can't wait to see and hear how we handle the actual text of the show.

Update: After having the read-thru last night, I am so friggin' excited for this show now.  Everyone sounded great, and I know the minute we start blocking, we are going to be in business. 

On the personal side, however, I'm already having some problems, mainly with knowing this music.  There is an awful lot of it, which isn't the problem.  I'm really just not used to having to sing bass.  I mean, I was singing first tenor from 2002 to May 2010.  Evita with New Line was the first time I had ever actually sung Bass/Baritone, and that was difficult enough.  The good thing there was that Eeyan and Aaron were down there with me, so if I couldn't hear it I just had to search for their voices to get back on track.  I still have problems reading bass clef but it's gotten better.  I'm just worried I'm going to eff up the Whiffle stuff.  From what I've been able to tell, I'm anchoring a majority of the chords, so that adds a little more pressure.  The thing is being the only person down on that part.  Oh well, just means that I have to practice more on my own.  Practice makes Permanent, so I just need to know the music even better than I normally do.  

Allison (Elizabeth Stanley) and the Whiffles led by Baldwin Blandish (Christopher J. Hanke)
While I've been working on the music, I've been doing a lot of research into the original movie, production, and just the time period we are depicting.  I thought I knew a lot about the fifties, but there is so much more that I need to look into.  I mean, I can listen to all the oldies and doo-wop I want, but when you start looking at the years some of those songs were coming out, they came out after 1954 (when Cry-Baby takes place).  It's almost like I need to ignore all the fifties music I know and love, and try and come at the show from a different angle.  The Squares are still in the Big Band mentality, almost.  They are the clean cut, probably listening to Glenn Miller, or Count Basie if they are feeling really adventurous.  The Whiffles are almost worse, going back to the barbershop quartet music from the turn of the century.  Meanwhile the Drapes draw inspiration from the rhythm and blues coming down South.  This is the kind of music that would be played underground, in the flop houses and hole-in-the-wall bars found down on Beale Street in Memphis, or at Sam Phillips' Sun Records. 

Well, I gotta get going, so thanks for reading, and don't forget your Anti-Polio shot.


Thursday, January 5, 2012

Here We Go Again.

First things first. I has been a long time since I last posted here (well over a year). So much has happened in that time. I started grad school, have been working with theatres around town, and just trying to live each day as it comes. Now that we are caught up, I must start the topic at hand...

Cry-Baby the Musical!!!!!

Rehearsals started early this week for New Line Theatre's production of John Water's Cry-Baby the Musical, of which I am happy and proud to be a member of the cast. This is going to be a fantastic experience, primarily due to the fact that we are the first production outside of the Broadway production. No one else has touched this show, so we are going to be bringing a whole new experience to a welcoming audience. Also, I am technically getting college credit for being in the show, so I'm glad to be sharing the wackiness that develops as well as the process of bringing this show to life.

Now, I'm no stranger to the kookiness that is John Waters. I have been a fan of Hairspray and Cry-Baby since I first saw them on television so many years ago, and now being able to do both in less than a year is even cooler. I still think I fit better in the fifties and sixties, hence the reason why my favorite musicals are Grease and Jersey Boys. Those were the years when rock and roll was created, perfected, and at the same time, destroyed. The fact that this entire genesis makes its way through the show gives me reason enough to enjoy this.

First Rehearsal
As I mentioned earlier, rehearsals started this week, and we have a hell of a show in our hands. Though I was sitting further back in the bass section, I was still amazed by the power and pure "raw"-ness coming from everyone involved. This is definitely not an easy score. In comparing it to the other John Waters' musical, Hairspray ranks as a 6.5 while Cry-Baby hits around a low 8 (for scale significance, I put Birdie at a 4.5 and Sunday in the Park with George at an 11).

The score wages kind of a battle between the lovely, though occasionally cheesy tunes of shows like Finian's Rainbow and Bye Bye Birdie to the pure rockabilly drive created by Sam Phillips and his Sun Record Label. Though I get to sing a little bit of everything throughout, I'm proud to be on the cheesy side, being a Whiffle, one of the harmony guys. I mean, this is the style I grew up on: The Four Lads, The Four Aces, The Lettermen. The Whiffles are the Baltimore version of The Plaids in Forever Plaid, and who can say anything bad about the Plaids?...please don't say anything bad about the Plaids, or else I may get pissy.

At the same time, I'm having so much fun singing these rock songs. I really can't wait until we get to I'm Infected and Girl, Can I Kiss You just because they serve kind of a midpoint. They have that four-part background with the more expressive lyrics, making those numbers almost doo-wop, in my opinion. And, really, if doo-wop is involved, I'm going to be singing somewhere.

Sadly, I must now go. So till next time, watch your ass.