Today we started off with the Funeral – the very first number ever choreographed for Priscilla. Ross Coleman did a 90 second version that had all the same beats that ended up in the musical and it’s hardly changed at all from the premiere production (unlike tons else in the show). It’s probably the perfect number from the show, in doing something that no other musical does and summing up the style of Priscilla – the costumes are remarkable, the over-the-top grieving could only work in that situation and it introduces Bernadette, a character that is now iconic in musical theatre.
It’s a trickier number than it looks because it demands so much of the cast in terms of bringing individual style and charisma to the quite simple choreography, and not getting lost in those amazing costumes. One of the key things that can happen with the Funeral is that the campery can swamp the grief, crucial to believe if we’re going to follow Bernadette’s story onwards. Natalie forged straight into the number, looking as if she’d been with me at that 2006 workshop, hitting every beat and knowing (via Andy) exactly what the number should be. The first bit of fun was showing the Italian cast the costumes they’d each been wearing – they really are ridiculously wonderful and where else would they be more appreciated than the fashion capital of the world?
It was a pretty straight ahead day – we had the usual discussions of “larger, larger!” – how important the extremities are in the number, that the shapes you make must be original, the traffic issues that are in the routine. I can already tell that the chemistry between Antonello (Tick) and Simone (Bernadette) is going to be magical – they’ve just done “Beauty and the Beast” together so have a wonderful friendship and that helps this crucial relationship along so well. We’re lucky as well that Andrea who plays the transexual Russian ballerina has great technique – following in the pointe-footsteps of Kurt, Matt and Kyle. We had the usual hiccups with the umbrella canon and Natalie took great delight in getting me to explain the “gay crucifix” – mouth, cock, nipple, nipple.
All in all the cast did a great job and getting on board with the number. We followed this with a refresher of “It’s Raining Men” from yesterday and everything was retained wonderfully well. Thomas, our dance captain, even stepped into a track with three minutes prep and did it perfectly. It’s feeling fun and just like Priscilla should.