Lots of exciting things happening in the room this week. Firstly, the fact that we didn’t have to rehearse on Tuesday – being All Saints Day (is that the actual name, or a holiday I wish occurred where everyone was given free samples from the latest range?). In any case, except for a production meeting in the room to figure out where the show was at outside of the room, there was no work to do. For Priscilla, we’re converting a multi-purpose space into the sort of theatre that can fit our show – building a flytower, stage, auditorium, foyer. I imagine it will be very pink, though I’ll be most excited if it just fits us and some people to watch us.
I spent the afternoon away in Bergamo – about a half hour drive away from Milano – an old town built around a castle on a hill. It’s perfect in that Italian way – winding cobblestone streets, cafes, cathedrals. Perfetto.
Wednesday we staged the finale of Act One, “I Will Survive”. The biggest thing in this number is the gumby feet, the huge shoes that the cast wear, named after the eponymous cartoon character. Of course, the shoes won’t be ready for a while, so it’s a lot of walking around with spread legs. We pieced the number together, bit by bit, adding Jimmy, the Tourists – watching Italians improvise Japanese, German and Scots tourists is definitely bordering on the bizarre – and finally Bob, the mechanic. Maurizio, our Bob, has been patiently waiting for weeks to do something – attending some music calls, checking in on dance numbers, and finally today he got to pick up his toolbox and torch and enter the world of Priscilla.
We got the number done by mid-afternoon which enabled us to move into a full run of the show before we left that day. I didn’t have hugely high hopes as there’s a fair amount of illness going around and the cast are fairly exhausted being in their third week (and strangely, having an extra day off tends to wear people out more – it did me, anyway). However, the cast really pulled it together and it was a great first run. I asked them to focus on accuracy and communication, being prepared for what was next, and they achieved this in spades. The dynamic between the three leads is magical and each one is absolutely right in essence. The cast have come a long way in knowing the level that each number needs to be performed at, as well. Yes, it’s rough and sometimes messy, but still, great.
Today we moved onto Bob’s Kitchen and introducing Cynthia, with the usual hilarity that provides. Giada is bold and having a lot of fun already in the role. Simultaneously costume fittings began in another room and were very encouraging – looking just like the show should.
We’re moving through the scenes quickly, but I didn’t want to get ahead of the numbers, so we started putting our alternate Felicia, Luciano, into the scenes done thus far. Meanwhile Natalie staged “Thank God I’m A Country Boy” to great delight from the cast.
In the afternoon we moved onto “A Fine Romance” or Les Girls, as we call it, the flashback to Bernadette’s early performing days, led by Gianluca as Young Bernadette. I was frightened when I found out the difference between Bernadette and Young Bernadette’s ages…it’s more like Bernadette and Twin Bernadette. Gianluca is ridiculously pretty as a boy, and will barely need an application of gloss to pass as a woman.
It’s quite amazing how well some boys immediately walk in heels. Our Frank, also called Gianluca, is a dead-ringer for Hercules – half Italian, half Chilean, straight as uncooked spaghetti and yet immediately locks into a sensual transvestite the second the heels come on. And conversely some of the gay boys look like they’ve taped bricks to their feet. I guess balance isn’t sexuality-based.