Priscilla 2011 – Milano – Week Four – Monday

We have a song in Priscilla that focuses entirely on cupcakes.  It’s pretty much notorious now, iconic even, but once upon a time it was just Simon Phillips in a cab saying to me “I think we should do “MacArthur Park” and then have the ensemble come on dresses as cupcakes…”  I enquired about the plot and that was probably the last time anyone ever did.

How did the song come to be in the show?  There’s a line in the movie, I believe, where Tick sees Bernadette asleep on a cake and says “Someone left the cake out in the rain”.  And from this Bernadette’s solo (the middle section of “Mac Park”) was introduced and then exploded into a full production number.  On Broadway we added Tick into the number, so that it became his fantasy, a kind of hoorah to crazy drag days before settling down as a dad.  Which helped focus the Ziegfeldian madness of the song.  Nonetheless it’s always been adored by the audience, chiefly because of the utter craziness of building a production number around a popular song with very strange lyrics.  Tick always receives a huge ovation, laughter and applause when he first sings “Someone left a cake out in the rain…”

Today we staged the song with the Italian cast.  It will be interesting to see how it plays out with the audiences here, based on the following exchange with our Italian Tick.

Tick: Can I ask a question about this line?

Me: Yes.

Tick:  Why does he say ‘I’ve waited all my life to for this’ and then sing that line?

Me:  Because he’s found the opportunity to use that lyric in a real situation.

Tick:  Is that song famous?

Me.  Ummm….yes.  Haven’t you heard it before this show?

Tick:  No.

Nonetheless, there will still be dancing cupcakes and a rocking Diva song, so onwards!

While I set up the tender part of the song, Bernadette’s reflection on her love life past, and the possibility of new love with Bob (done beautifully by both Simone and Maurizio, as ever), Natalie took the six male ensemble to try on their wooden hoops and grab their jellyfish umbrellas.  In a bout of incredible professionalism the Italian team supplied us with actual circular hoops for the cast to wear so they could understand how big the cupcakes are, right from the beginning.

On the right, Gianluca, the birthday boy. I asked him if he was having a good day. "I am a cake, what else could I ask for?"

This is a very difficult number for the following reasons;

  • You have a one metre wide cupcake hanging from your shoulders, which stops you being able to touch anyone, or see your feet.
  • You are carrying a two metre high umbrella that you balance with one thumb and also has glitter tentacles which often get wrapped around fellow cast members.
  • The skirt of the cupcake often gets trodden on by other cast members, or yourself, causing you to fall over without any ability to get back up again.
  • There is a bus onstage that turns amongst you the entire song.
  • And you’re in high heels.
The style of the movement is kind of gavotte-meets-geisha, due to the limited movement range of the costume, and there is a lot of patterning to get right in a very small space.  The cast rose to the challenge admirably, and very rarely asked for motivation.  Meanwhile the Divas are on the bus, belting the song out while turning constantly.  Then there’s Tick flouncing amongst the cupcakes like a seven-year old who’s had too much red cordial and seen too many movie musicals. 
It’s quite a hoot to watch, really.

Published by bryantandfrank

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

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