Two weeks down, and we’re up to the Aria, substantially through Act One. The cast pulled out a terrific run of the work done thus far – they’ve really stepped up their game in terms of going “full out” during runs, while maintaining the tone of each number and giving it vocal heft as well as accuracy. The trio are a dream to work with – each one easy to direct, fun and has the essence of the role.
The day started with the completion of “Nightlife”, which we started yesterday. As expected, this number took a long time – before you even get to the song there’s the whole scene set up – going from a bus turning to a bar in Broken Hill, getting on several large items of furniture and a pub full of bogans is quite an effort. We tried to find matches for what the references are in the show – they don’t really have “bogans”, “chavs” or “rednecks” as we’ve named them before in our various incarnations. There was a term that was agreed upon, something like “campagna….etc” – but not sure if that’s exactly a match. In any case we just broke it down, person by person, building the world of Shirl’s bar. It’s probably the hardest number in the show to set, because no-one is really doing the same thing as anyone else till about halfway through the song. On top of that pool cues and beers have to be passed to the right person at the right time for the number to function.
Our Shirl, Elisa, is doing a wonderful job – great voice, good build for the role and a nice semi-deranged quality. She’s actually quite gorgeous but doesn’t look it when she sets her face so. We finished off the song before lunch and went to Cargo for a great meal – Cargo is kind of like a designer version of IKEA – a warehouse with amazing designer goods from Italy and the world over under one roof – and then a traditional restaurant where the menu changes every day. It’s delicioso.
After lunch Natalie cleaned number ready for the run. Simone, our Bernadette, had done his back this morning – the curse of wearing heels for a week for the first time – and was off being looked after. When he returned I quickly set a first version of “True Colours” so that we could get to it in the run. It made me cry in the rehearsal room – I think it affected all of them a little actually. Oh, and I’ve lost my voice today – a result of too much talking in yesterday’s session. I sound like I’ve been at my larynx with a cheese grater. It’s slightly emasculating.
I really enjoyed the run – the first twenty minutes was in particularly fresh shape and everyone in the room was excited by it I think. The Divas are heading to Riccone, the zeitgeist capital of Italy, to do a series of promotional gigs this weekend. They’ve had to learn different versions of a couple of their songs, which is pretty stressful this early in the game, but they’re doing a valiant job. I sometimes forget how hard it must be to learn these pops songs to a foreign-language speaker. It’s all phonetic, really, which is a nightmare. I once played the Grace Kelly role in a live stage version of “Dial M For Murder” for my Year 10 German class. It was an hour long, in German, in front of the whole school. I never learned it so had the whole script written out, phonetically, in a magazine that she flicked through the entire hour. What an absolutely terrible experience that must have been for every student forced to watch it.
And thus we hit the second weekend in Milano. Costume fittings have begun, and photos are trickling back on the cast’s iPhones. Ads are in the magazines, show props turn up on the floor. We’re heading swiftly towards a premiere. Yes, there is the occasional glimpses of obstacles ahead on the road, ones that may turn into roadkill at some point, but overall, the bus is cruising along.