Priscilla 2011 – Broadway – Day 1

I flew in Saturday night and for once there wasn’t traffic coming into Manhattan.  My body didn’t know what time it was, being caught somewhere between Melbourne, Milan and Manhattan.  Being back in the same apartment as rehearsals last year helped, and being the anal organisiste that I am, I unpacked and put away all my clothes.  To keep myself awake until a suitable hour to reprogram my body clock I went to a few parties before collapsing.  Sunday was a catch up day before Monday hit and Priscilla Broadway began.

First up I dropped into the Palace to see how things were going at dry tech.  The Palace Theatre.  Where Judy played.  And Liza.  And Aida, but I’m not going to count that.  And now, Priscilla, really the first Australian musical to make it to Broadway, leading man (lady?) intact, and creative team still at the helm.  A show that ran without stopping for the first time on opening night in Sydney, 2006, has landed right next to the tkts booth in Times Square, mythological heart of the the American masterpiece, the musical.

Of course, under worklights, all theatre magic fades pretty quickly.  The flitter was up, the bus centre stage, and the auditorium full of the tables for all of the various creative and technical staff.  The Palace is really beautiful.  It has a wonderful proscenium that Priscilla fits inside perfectly.  The stalls (orchestra in the US) are big, without the sightline issues of some theatres we play.  And it does that magical thing that all good Broadway theatres do, it wraps the audience around the action onstage.  Said hello to our wonderful stage management team and wondered at the many unknown people now staffing Priscilla here.  Then Si and I went to our beloved casting agents, Telseys and began the last round of auditions.

Eric, our frighteningly skilled Dance Captain, had winnowed the best of available Broadway talent down for us to choose our last two cast members.  He’d drilled them into Raining Men for the boys and I Will Survive for the girls.  Auditions are surreal, especially when you’ve just landed in a new city and realise they’ve been going on for weeks.  Rapport has been built up as people progress through the rounds, hoping for that coveted position in the original Broadway cast.  After they’d sung, danced, read for understudies and been Diva blended we chose our final two, and a Benji alternate.

Benji casting is my specialty.  The Broadway kids are freakishly assured, and better prepared than new grads back home.  They’ve got their sheet music, march straight up to the pianist, guide them through tempo and nail it first time.  Acting can be tricky here, because there’s a style of kid acting that is almost in quotation marks.  Basically “cute”.  Which doesn’t work for our show.  The kids need to be quirky and natural.  You can tell the ones with a chance the second they walk in.  Basically they remind the panel of me.  I was an…eccentric child.

Not even the campest photo of me as a kid. I wish I could find the one in the large sunhat, or the one where I went to school dressed as Elton John.

Cast complete we retired to Bar Centrale, our favourite hangout, to recap on the day and prepare for the press launch tomorrow.  Andy and I did attempt to go to a Broadway show, but Monday night is a little thin on the ground.  Options were Phantom, Mamma Mia and Chicago.  I have seen all of those at least twice.

Published by bryantandfrank

Dean Bryant and Mathew Frank make musicals. And other things.

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