New York, NY – Fifteen people squeeze into a small rehearsal space on Avenue B. The first time we’ve all been in the same room together. Hayley Finn, our director, has just arrived from Minneapolis. After setting up and a few hellos, we start our run-through.
Within minutes I am shouting at the distinguished, adorable, and very talented actor Tony Patellis. Since he is standing by a very loud speaker Tony can’t hear a word I’m saying. I want him to slow down. He is doing the narration. He doesn’t yet understand that the band is taking its cues from him. By the time they’ve counted off the rhythm Tony is already way ahead of them. So here I am screaming at a dear and blameless friend.
It has been a year since the band played its last show. During the downtime I had flattered myself that I had mellowed out. Spottiswoode & His Enemies would come back bigger, stronger, better, more mature. I had even thrilled at the prospect of potentially making a huge fool of myself. Back to the old risk-taking days. All with a zen-like equanimity.
Well, now the show is two days away and my little opera is sounding worse than a bad high school musical. Hayley watches the train wreck in front of her.
Poor Riley McMahon, heroic musical director, is counting his way through about fifty music cues and suffering the glares and whines of yours truly when any one of these cues is missed or flubbed.
Meanwhile, the actors all seem to be enjoying themselves. Wiser than me, they understand that rehearsals are supposed to be like this.
And we still have almost 48 hours…
And miraculously, two days later, we all did fine. In fact, the band and the cast were “AWESOME” (to quote Charley, the mountaineer in the story.)
Thanks to the band; to Herr Musical Director McMahon; to Konrad Meissner kicking ass on drums; to Tony Patellis for being the coolest narrator on the planet; to Martha Redbone, Kyra Climbingbear, Meghan McGeary, Don Dilego and Max Low for the great acting and singing job they did and for all their hard work; to Hayley Finn for her fab directing job; to the staff at Joe’s for their excellent work; and to all the folks who came out to the show and who gave me such useful feedback afterwards.
Thanks also to Jason Bell. One of the more surreal moments on the day of the show was the five minutes of voguing I had to do on stage just after the house doors opened. Jason was trying to get a decent shot of me for a book he’s doing about Englishmen in New York. He’d just shot Sting two days before. Given the mayhem I may not have been quite as suave or accommodating as Sting. Still, I appreciated Jason’s patience and sensitivity as he waited till 6 o’clock for me to finally change into my duds. “It’s only going to be in the National Portrait Gallery!” said Jason’s loyal assistant.
A year of yoga and it seems I’m still the tinpot primadonna.