The final stage of any theatre production is dress rehearsals. Everything is added (except the audience) at this point. Usually overwhelming on Priscilla, it was kind of a breeze this time, well out front anyway. I hear backstage is frenzied hysteria. They’re doing a very good job of hiding it as everyone comes out looking great, full bead on (that’s a US term for “face of makeup”, singing along with our rocking band.
We’re taking tons of notes, but they’re of the minor kind now (that curtain looks a bit messy, what should the inside of the suitcase look like, could we do Young Bernadette’s eyebrows better) rather than the sort of notes we took during dress rehearsal in Sydney (When will the bus move? Is the bus working today? Shall we do the show without the bus?)
What’s fun at this point is that guests connected to the show are coming to watch, so you get a little glimpse of how the new jokes are working. My favourite new joke involves the word “chairlift”. Tony Sheldon’s partner watched our final dress and laughed appreciatively at the new stuff. What particularly amused me was how much he laughed at lines that have been there since Sydney 2006. Either it’s testament to his generosity as an audience member or the fact that the Broadway cast is utterly delightful. Both probably. What particularly moved me was how enraptured he was watching Tony do “Macarthur Park”. That’s the kind of relationship one aspires to.
When not running, the last two days was spent tweaking – giving Ashton some time with Will and Jess. He’s a really quick learner and him and Luke are completely winning as Benji. There’s always work to do on the interior of the bus – our designer Brian has made sure that even if the bus were being filmed for a movie it would look brilliant. His eye for detail is why he’s such a great designer for both mediums (he is famous, of course, for The Rocky Horror Show movie design). Jerry, our tireless props master, is bringing in new things all the time – we had fun figuring out what three things would fall out of Tick’s suitcase in the first song – the winners? A wig, a hairdryer and a boa (I pleaded for it not to be pink and Jerry found a rather elegant white boa with gold trimming).
I had a bit of a thrill when our photographers turned up for the final run – Joan Marcus and Sara Krulwich. I have seen their credits on Times review pics for years, so to have them capturing our show is pretty exciting. We stopped and started a little in the final run to make sure we got the iconic images exactly right – the Aria, the Gumby line up, Uluru and Finally last image. Can’t wait to see the pics.
After the run we gathered in the auditorium. Simon made a succinct and witty speech about the process and how proud he was of every team member. And then it was the weekend.
Weekend highlights –
Dinner at the completely deserted Barbetta – great food but slightly unnerving having no other guests there at all. Like eating a meal in the hotel in The Shining.
Walking the Highline Park. A completely masterful piece of Civic design.
Seeing a preview of “Peter and the Starcatcher” down at NYTW. Starring Christian, who was in “Prodigal” years ago, as an absolutely hilarious Black Stache/Captain Hook, the play is an ensemble delight with a really witty script by Rick Elice (Jersey Boys). Got a backstage tour after – they’re using recycled materials from other shows that have closed to make the set – enviro-friendly design – it looked great.
Oscars party at Simon’s apartment. We probably talked more than watched, but it was exciting to be in the same country as the Oscars and watching them while they happened. Andy and I sauntered home before the end, but watched the last four at Industry – where a not very hilarious drag queen provided commentary.
And now we put the show before a Broadway audience for the very first time. I cannot put into a sentence how excited I am. Though I guess I just did.