Priscilla 2011 – Milano – Week 4 – Thursday

The energy in the room was flagging today, as we staged “Finally”, the last number in the show, so I decided it was time for fun.  Everyone in the cast lined up on the two sides of the stage and had to strut across in heels expressing their fierce drag personality, a la Tyra Banks’ advice on America’s Next Top Model.  It was fun, freeing and there were some serious divas in there.  Maurizo (Bob) was actually very impressive – he completely threw himself in.  Andrea V (Miss U) and Cesar (Jimmy) were unsurprisingly straight off the catwalk, but lots of great, fun stuff.  Nicola (our Pastor) was actually great in heels.  I don’t think it was his first time.

After that the four Benjis came in to be introduced to the cast.  They are adorable – it’s always so hard to find the right sort of kids, but when you do they add such a great energy to the room.  Toto is rehearsing them (the first time I haven’t had to!) and apparently they’re all naturals and doing great.  I think seeing the cast giving it in “Finally” may have been quite the introduction to Priscilla.  They’ve all seen the movie, Toto said, and spent the day talking about Bernadette asleep on the cake and yelling “Mitzi!” to each other.

So, for all intents and purposes, the show is done.  Bravo to Natalie who has learned an incredible amount of intricate choreography so quickly and in such a detailed and spirited way.  This process would be unthinkable without her.

Priscilla 2011 – Milano – Week 4 – Tuesday

Sometimes this blog must seem a little Pollyanna-ish, that everything is amusing, wry or inspiring and nothing ever seems to go wrong on the shows I work on and write about.  In fact, every day frustrating things happen, there are arguments, you doubt that an actor is going to get there, a prop turns up that looks awful, you get a report from outside that things are not going so well.  I don’t write about these things by choice.  My job as director is to guide a group of people with very different skill sets and desires into working as a unified whole in the creation of a piece of theatre.  If there were a public forum where their (our) mistakes and foibles were published by someone whose job is to guide them, then trust would be instantly broken and no good work could be done.  Not to mention the fact that once a show gets up, nearly all the petty issues and fears of achievement fade away, and what’s left is the good memories and goodwill you have towards each other.  Except that bitch you’ll never work with again.

We completed and ran Act Two today.  Except for Finally, which Natalie and I saved as a special treat for tomorrow.  But the meat of the act is done, the scenes, the journey, the production numbers, the 40 year old man playing Benji.  The run was very smooth, but very safe.  It felt like the cast were carefully making their way through, hitting every beat and mark, but not coming to life within it.  Which is fine for where we are (and also what I’ve seen they’re capable of in the first act).  By tomorrow, Finally will be done, and by the weekend we’ll have run the entire show.  The first major part of the journey is done.  I imagine that’s contributed to my mood of melancholy today, realising how quickly this group of people will become another group of people that you once did a show with.

I thought I had tonsillitis this morning, actually.  My throat was in agony.  I’d had a second terrible night’s sleep in a row.  Monday’s was bad because the fire alarm in the entire accommodation went off at 1130pm for an hour.  Tuesday’s was bad because someone from Australia rang me three times between 2am and 3am.  So I brought some fairly negative energy into the room.  How does this manifest?  No jokes and very to-the-point answers.  But after fifteen minutes of work on the Benji scene I’d returned to my normal self.  It’s very hard to direct actors to use Bananas in Pajamas dolls as microphones without cheering up somewhat.  Things got better later in the day when Raquel, our Spanish company manager got me a gargle from the pharmacia, and Valentina, our Diva have me something called Saridon, which instantly took away the pain.  I stocked up after work on this miracle drug, but then read the bottom of the packet – Paracetamolo + Propifenazone + Caffeina.  Don’t think I’ll be taking that one before bed.

 

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.

Priscilla 2011 – Milano – Week 3 – Saturday

We wrapped up the end of week three with a run of what we’ve completed in Act 2.  Quite a lot, as it turns out – at least half of the second act.  We spent the day working on the “Hot Stuff” sequence.  Mirko looked particularly fetching in his Felicia getup today – big sneakers, oversized tracky daks, a windcheater and the most scraggy blonde wig we could find.  Frankly, it was a stretch to imagine the gents of Coober Pedy were fooled today.

Natalie led the choreography with aplomb considering how vulgar this section is- “grab the crotch, shake the cock, go to piss, burp” – our cast definitely struggled with this aspect of the show more than the Les Girls of a few days back.

Our Frank, Gianluca, is a hip-hop dancer who used to be on a kids show here, but prefers the immediacy of theatre (wow, that sounds like an introduction for a dating show).  He’s big all over, and perfect for Frank – it’s always better when he’s much bigger physically than Felicia, for both the “romance” and the conflict afterwards.  I showed Mirko the blocking for getting ready for the night – putting on the fishnets, skirt and wig – strangely this is the piece of blocking I’m best at in the show…that and flouncing about the bus doing “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun”.

Then came my bete-noir – the barrel roll.  We set up the drive-in by rolling on four barrels, two benches, a barbecue and a shopping trolley, simultaneously from opposite sides of the stage while Felicia walks through the middle.  Inevitably they hit each other, the actor, or the bus while you attempt to make it look magical.  Perhaps because we’ve done it so many times now this one was fairly clean and no actors were injured in the making of this scene change.

Also good for once was Frank kicking Felicia in the face.  On Broadway we must have refined the technique because it’s completely safe now.  Adam raises his hand to ward Frank away, Frank kicks into the hand, only just making contact and Adam uses this contact to spin on himself – out front it looks like he’s been kicked so hard he’s spun over.  On the West End, Clive Carter was helpfully showing me how to do fight choreography and ended up kicking me in the face and splitting my lip.

I’m not entirely sure that we’ve worked out the correct translation for Bernadette’s triumphant “Now you’re fucked” line at the end of the scene, so we shall have to explore that further.  I do now that as soon as she said it, the tough male cast burst into disco dancing – as if the Coober Pedy scene were another variation on Broken Hill – as I said last week “See, Gays make magic!”

It would be remiss not to point out the highlight of the day, though.  Well, two highlights – Max brought in traditional cannoli from Sicily, which was amazing and Spud’s goddaughter’s hen’s night back home.  He was skyping the gals and asked the Italian men to pop onto camera and wave hello to the drunken Aussie girls.  Well, something must have gotten lost in translation because as the first guy was saying hi, he decided to strip, then another cast member went on camera and another till we’d had a cavalcade of hot Italian guys stripping off for some very lucky Aussie girls back home.  And some very lucky Aussie boys in the room.

But, alas, life returned to normal and we ran part of Act 2 to complete the day.  Twas very smooth, with fantastic work from everyone involved.  The chemistry between Bob and Bernadette is beautiful – watching him watching “Groove Thing” is truly touching.  Elena is sounding gorgeous in “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun”, Giada is eating the stage up as Cynthia and Gianluca continues to walk his six-million-dollar-legs through Les Girls.  It’s really lovely to watch them all.

Priscilla 2011 – Milano – Week 3 – Thursday

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.

Farrah in her Go West cowgirl.

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.

Young Bernadette and her girls.

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.

 

Priscilla 2011 – Milano – Week 3 – Monday

Back from the day off for one day of work.  Tomorrow’s is All Saints Day in Italy, the official and original version of Halloween, so the country closes down.  The cast are being very amenable in introducing us to the city – Anto and Simone took us out for dinner to the Navigli area on Saturday night – it’s a collection of cafes and bars on one of the remaining canals in Milan.  Apparently Milan used to be surrounded by canals that followed the circle of the city, and it was one of the most beautiful cities in the world.  Mid-century they were filled in with cement, I guess for efficiency and traffic?  Having said that, I can’t find any pictures of these canals, so I wonder if this is true.  In any case we had Napolitan pizza and then joined many of the cast at L’Elephant, a gay bar that may have been overvisited by us already.

Today was paintbrush day.  We started off with the Aria – Mirko has to be the first Adam to find lip-syncing to La Traviata the easiest part of the show.  It must be so strange to be singing in English for most of the show, then suddenly be mouthing along to an Australian soprano singing in your native language.  We broke down, we panicked, we made phone calls and then pulled out the paintbrushes.

An interesting note – the Italian word for paintbrush, pennello, is also slang here for “penis”.  The cast were apparently laughing every time we asked for the pennelle to do something.  So we played with it, saying how it was Adam’s dream to be surrounded by a cast of “molto grande pennelle”.  Nice to know one of the few moments in Priscilla that doesn’t involve a genitalia joke has now picked it up in this country.

We had the usual poi troubles (the Maori ritual dance we added in Auckland) but because we didn’t linger on it the cast took initiative and quickly taught themselves how to do it.  With the usual hitting themselves in the face with paintbrushes.

Then we completed the scene into “I Will Survive” with Mirko mastering the Nick Adams trademark walkover-into-jump-split.  Tomorrow we stage the final number for Act One and then we’re halfway there.

Priscilla 2011 – Milano – Week Two – Saturday

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.

Priscilla 2011 – Milano – Week Two – Thursday

Started the day with a fairly crisp run of the first 25 minutes of the show.  Everyone did a fairly great job at keeping the flow going, especially stage management.  It felt like the start of Priscilla does, ie, that it goes gangbusters, song by song, moment by moment, joke by joke.  The only real hiccup was trying to get the stairs in for the top of “Material Girl” and the girls to realise they go straight from the Funeral scene to sing the song.

After that we started choreographing the main part of “Go West”.  This meant we got to use the rehearsal bus for the first time, which has been constructed out of several platforms and works really smoothly.  This number is essentially a cavalcade of marching in various formations, with the motivation of cheerful Mardi Gras parade amateurs.  The Swedish gobbledegook had the advantage here of sounding like every other production in the world.  I decided to give the Lars’ the following motivations under the dialogue to help them –

“Unzi bunzi in der uberkulen Ootback, Adam” = “Have fun in the Outback, Adam”

“Fruschne birde hurdi gurdi in der sieben fut fut” = “Don’t forget to check the engine regularly”

“Hurdi gurdi un de furdi in der unzi bunzi boit boit” = “That was great sex, we all really enjoyed it”

Ja, ja!

Three swarthy Italian Lars’ aren’t the most believable Scandinavians, but they are definitely eye-candy.  A Lars Bar indeed.

In the afternoon we began the Journey.  This has been nicely clarified over the course of years – it used to be a nightmare of drink filling and glass passing but has since turned into a very simple version.  The best part of the journey was getting the covers to stand in for the road signs and the roadkill.  They were adorable!

Priscilla 2011 – Milano – Week 2 – Wednesday

It’s really quite the education directing scenes in a foreign language.  Not only do you have to take the time to explore the character and subtext of any scene, you have to check whether that even applies to the culture that you’re in, whether the words are saying exactly what you think they’re saying and wait for all those discussions to move back and forth between everyone in the rehearsal room in both languages.  It can be very time consuming.  But then really rewarding when the feel of the scene comes into focus, without resorting to hideous vocal mannerisms of how you want the line to sound.  I’ve talked to the cast about previous shows they’ve done and their experience of being told how to do everything in the show, which is not how Simon has ever approached Priscilla worldwide.  In fact, we tend to change the blocking to suit our cast’s instincts everywhere we go.

Since last we met –

-Music calls continued

-The cast took us out for drinks to Elephant, a gay bar in the Porta Venezia area.  Lots of fun with a new type of shot for me – rum followed by pear – lots of fun till I had to deal with the next day, that is.

-We finished music calls and did another round of auditions for the final swing and the final Benji.  They don’t have a tradition of swings here, so most actors don’t like to take the role, seeing it as “person who doesn’t get onstage”.  However, in any commercial musical, the swings are invaluable and get onstage, well, all the time.  It’s such a valuable skill and requires such a mix of physical and vocal ability, with the crucial extra skill to see yourself in a puzzle – so we’re trying to educate them as to how important it is.

-Tuesday we read through the script for the first time, with all the songs intact.  I love the first read through – it can be scary, as you realise how far it is to go in developing the show, but there’s always the discoveries as to who has a unique take on something that you’ve never seen before.  It’s pretty clear how much of Priscilla in on the internet now as I was seeing other actors that I’ve worked with being channelled at times.

-In the hecklers scene after “Raining Men” the eight guys gave a very robust set of interjections with quite jolly masculine laughter.  I said that cliched gays in Australia laugh at a certain pitch.  I thought maybe that was something that would be lost in translation, but no, they only needed guidance and the stage suddenly turned into Stonewall.

-Moved onto the Marion and Tick phone call.  This scene has had more work on it than any other in Priscilla.  It has truly been rewritten every single time we’ve come back to look at the show.  It used to be an eight line scene, then moved to twelve or so.  Then a larger scene where Benji appeared visually and “Say a Little Prayer” appeared in the first part of the show and Farrah was added (chiefly because Miss Understanding couldn’t come offstage to chat to Tick, as would have been helpful).  This is the basic version that has stayed, though the dialogue changes with every production.  Benji disappeared in London, then returned in New York with much cute and poignant dialogue.  Which just made the part that little bit harder to cast.

Rehearsing this scene was good – Anto and Alice are naturals in their roles and Toto gave a convincing Benji.  But as we work through the translation a line will come up that I just know isn’t doing the work it should – in this case;

“You’ve had six years, Tick, rehearsals are over.”

We had the opposite language problem here than we usually do, in that instead of an English word having two meanings, the word for rehearsals is “prove” which also means “to do something”.  So where we wanted to use a theatrical metaphor to say Tick’s time preparing is ready, the audience would really only hear

“You’ve had six years, Tick, do something.”

Which is a little too emphatic and not terribly subtle.  So much discussion was had then about how to tweak the original line to have our cake and eat it, too.  Because most bilingual speakers have worked as a translator at some point, everyone has strong opinions, strong, LONG opinions about the best way to tackle this.  Ie, lots of chat, not so much rehearsal.  I’ve decided that we need to point out a problem, then email the translators for a solution, rather than try any democratic approach. If I want to get the show on, that is.

We staged “What’s Love” with our wonderful Miss Understanding, Andrea – he’s on top of everything and is a joy.  Gianluca, our Farrah could probably go on without makeup and be believable, he’s so pretty.

Today we recapped the Funeral and the scene after it.  It’s essentially mise-en-scene, mourners meeting each other and changing positions behind a scene that is plot related and has one of the biggest laughs in the show –

“You’ve got to be fucking joking” OR

“Mi stai prendendo per il culo” – literally “Are you pulling my ass around?”

Staging the post-Funeral scene is my bete noire, but was surprisingly easy today.

Then it was time for “Material Girl”.  Watching four hot Italian dancers and a superflexible Felicia, this wasn’t the hardest way I’ve ever earned a salary.  There isn’t much to say about these five hours – through the tears, hard work and a lot of sweat, art was made.

Not in Bernadette’s opinion, of course and Simone is feeling the pain the former diva experiences watching Felicia exquisitely.  It’s quite delightful.  The tension between her and Adam is already on point and will only grow from here.  Tomorrow, we Go West!

 

Priscilla 2011 – Milano – Day 5

Another music call day so not much for me to do today.  And it was glorious outside, so even better!  The room was split from the start, Fabio (our MD) taking the ensemble for clean up of songs learned thus far and Spud with the three principals learning “True Colours” and “Journey”.  They have a wonderful blend and sound absolutely beautiful together – plus they really got into the sentiment of the song from the start.  So happy with the cast!  The Journey was a test to see if the new Italian dialogue still fitted the assigned musical spaces, but luckily it did – easily, actually.  I might have to slow them down, really get them to savour the campery.

I went and scheduled the next 4 weeks of floor rehearsals to make sure that we’d be running by the right stage.  A very rigorous process, imagining how long a particular group of people will need to work on a scene or a song and factoring in starting new numbers at particular times, mini-runs and all that.  I worked out a version that I thought practical and achievable and Natalie and I tweaked it together over un capucine.

We ran the two numbers we’d staged after lunch – still looking good – tons of detail work to do, which is to be expected, but promising, nonetheless.  I wandered over to the costume drawing wall – there’s about 200 pictures up there and got chatting to Big Gianluca, who plays Frank. He pointed to the picture of James in the Lizard and said “Ever since I watch this clip on internet two month ago I pray, please let me be Lizard”.  See, prayers do get answered!  Especially in Italy.  I also showed him the breakdown of how the “Material Girl” costumes come off (down to the diamante g-string).  His response “My girlfriend will be very happy”.

There is a gentleness about the men here that is adorable – everyone of them is passionate yet soft.  And everyone is so stylish in rehearsals – they’re still in trackies and sneakers, but somehow the layering is perfect, the scarf on the right angle, the hair just so.  I think it’s unconscious even.

You very much lose track of time though, working and living on campus.  It’s Friday night here, and you have no sense of it at all – every night seems like the same.  However, tonight was the night I made gnocchi bolognese, so that probably gave it some distinction.