Prodigal 2011 – Day 7

A full house, finally!  Ed turned up, looking remarkably fresh-faced and somehow managed to invigorate all the non-jetlagged people in the room.  Luckily that’s what his role is in the show as well, so – good casting!  We had choreographer Andrew Hallsworth, my dear friend and collaborator on Priscilla, Drowsy, Officer, Britney and Newley come in this morning to stage the opening number.  I wanted to go with the idea of the movement that’s occurred in the Flannery kitchen over and over for the last 18 years, so that it is heavily staged, but not in a dance sense.  Andy is so great at that kind of naturalistic movement that builds and builds, much like his mentor, Ross Coleman was.  We worked in a very detailed fashion (I don’t think I’ve ever spent quite as long outlining a fart joke before – “Everyone has to notice there’s a bad smell on the word, then you have to look around for who caused it…”  I certainly haven’t ever spent as much time on how one would react if there was a beer spilled in your crotch.)  It’s incredibly difficult to remember all the nuances as they happen, but once it’s in memory will be this fluid, almost fastforward through every meal they’ve ever had.

Andy and I look very serious here. But this is not what we look like when we work. Or what we looked like at the end of this party.

Lunch in Balaclava/St Kilda East is particularly exciting.  I don’t know that part of town well – today we got coffee at the Wall Cafe (brilliant) and then ate at Lava Cafe (also brilliant).  ‘Twill be fun exploring there.

After lunch, we finally got the whole cast in the same room.  So strange after working on the piece for ages now, but exciting and a great warmth already.  Five lovely, talented and unnecessarily attractive people.  We launched right into it – I asked them all to make bold choices and to start playing on each other what they had been working on.  I sometimes find first reads to be…disappointing.  I’d so much rather actors to throw it out there – who cares if it’s not the direction you end up going – at least it’s got a vitality underneath it that shows you a way to go.  This one went really well – the chemistry between Ed and the various family and friends he is up against is magic.  Some rewrites went in today and were great – an exchange between Luke and his dad about getting a job in Sydney at a surf shop (one of Harry’s passions) – it added a missing level to the coming out scene – that Luke tells his dad who he is out of joy and excitement, not obligation.  Which makes it hit that much harder.  Big thanks to my brother Mikey for texting me believable things a surfer might say.  The actors were hardcore impressed at my verbiage.

The show flew, clocking in at 84 minutes – Prodigal should be pacy – it’s all about being 18 and thinking you’re running out of time, and how that makes you to act heedlessly.  Once We Lived Here, while in the same milieu, is the older, wiser family story.  And a female-driven story, while Prodigal is male-driven.  The father/son stuff was still moving, and everyone is so suited to their roles.

Peter Hardy round the same age that Luke is now. This could almost be the poster image from Prodigal.

It’s gonna be a rewarding two weeks playing around with the scenes, as we get on the rollercoaster towards preview in, well, two more weeks!

Published by bryantandfrank

Dean Bryant and Mathew Frank make musicals. And other things. www.bryantandfrank.com www.mybrilliantcareermusical.com www.deanjamesbryant.com

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