Because I am attempting to be a little bit less of an obnoxious prick, tweeting and face booking ALL the time. I’ve decided to condense my daily blogging into tri-daily blogs instead.
So when you last left me Timothy had appeared and started whispering at me. You’ll be glad to know that Timothy has once more been relegated to the bottom of a trunk, with a gag in his mouth.
On Saturday afternoon we had brunch with Adam Gwon (an extraordinary new composer & lyricist who wrote Ordinary Days and has won just about every award going). He has been part of NAMT three times previously and was able to give us the low down on what to expect. One of the best things he said about it was what comes about as being part of the NAMT community. Producers and venues can offer all different sorts of things. Some will be interested in your show, others will be interested in you as a writer, others still may not be interested in you at all, but that’s ok. I’m not fussed. I’m just glad to be here. I fan-boyed all over Adam a bit, having first heard his work 10 years ago when I was working on my first musical 'The Magic Stone of Saturnalia'. He was so generous with his time and knowledge and it was great to learn a bit about the New York new writing community. It seems that a bunch of them all work in studios in the same building. Isn’t that just fun? It confirms what I am now absolutely convinced is one of the cornerstones for a healthy new musical theatre scene in London. It is the community that counts. Support your fellow writers. Yes, absolutely feel like you want to break their legs, but go to their work, get drunk with them and then laugh about how envious you are of their talent. Trust me, it’s like well good fun innit.
On Sunday, I met Rhys for brunch and had a breakfast burrito, which (next to a street vendor hotdog) might just be the most delicious thing in the world and then I did bugger all for the rest of the day. I just stayed in the apartment and had a day off. I also forgot to do the laundry that I had intended to do for the last three days.
We had our first day of rehearsals on Monday where we met the cast for the first time. We aren’t allowed to release that news yet but all I can say is that they are all phenomenal and I’m still a little bit awe struck by the fact that these guys are in a rehearsal room on 8th Avenue singing some wicker tunes. It’s a far cry from the Rusty Bicycle in Oxford where Rhys first proposed the idea to me.
The best thing about it is the love that these once strangers seem to have for the work. It is a rehearsal room full of all sorts of joy. Full of smiles and enthusiasm. They know the songs and are already bringing a huge amount of character to their portrayals. Any worries that I may have had that this show might not connect with the American performers have been allayed. Questions have been asked such as:
“What does Diddely I-ten Day mean?”
My answer. “Nothing.”
I realised afterwards that I should have said, “Nothing, anything and everything.”
The second day of rehearsals was equally productive with the cast flying through the material at great speed under the steady guidance of our wonderful MD Eli Zoller. I can’t wait to hear it when the band start kicking off.
In total we’re allowed 20 hours of rehearsals, which is not a huge amount of time, but I feel like we are in good shape. We’ve had 8 hours so far, so only 12 left. But all the music has been learnt and the guys are sounding strong. It’s nice not being in control of the rehearsal schedule, it’s safely in the hands of Charlie, Eli and the NAMT team. I feel like I’m being spoilt. I have a lot to do and to think about but I don’t have to steer the musical ship. It’s brilliant. If there was ever a doubt about whether I preferred being a musical director or composer, those doubts have completely disappeared. Don’t get me wrong, writing is hard work, but then when the writing is nearly done, being in a rehearsal room listening to the work is just a bloody pleasure isn’t it? And I'm ever grateful to the brilliance of MD's.
Hi diddely dee, a composers life for me.
So after finishing our 2nd rehearsal we got in touch with George Stiles & Anthony Drewe who are over here rehearsing their workshop production of Becoming Nancy directed by Jerry Mitchell. For anyone considering applying to the Stiles & Drewe Mentorship Award, I can confirm that it is most certainly the gift that just keeps on giving. We won the award for a year of mentorship in May 2016. It is now nearly 2 and a half years later and George and Ants and their wonderful life manager Lettie continue to be a driving force behind our musical and our careers. Providing unique opportunities wherever they can.
For example, today after we finished rehearsal we walked over to 42nd Street New Studios where they were rehearsing and we sat in on their rehearsals and had the pleasure of watching Jerry Mitchell stage a number from their show. There were some familiar faces including the incomparable Jenna Russell performing some incredible Abba moves to a fab new tune by George and Ants. It was also a pleasure to properly meet Elliot Davis, the book writer on the project and also one of the guest tutors on the BML composer & lyricist course.
I don’t think our paths properly crossed during my time in the 1st and 2nd year BML workshops but it was lovely to have a conversation (albeit whispered and out of earshot of Mr Mitchell) about it and how much BML has influenced my career. I continue to believe that it is one of the most important factors in any success that I’ve had in my career. Elliot was very pleased to hear that I now make my living as a writer of songs for the theatre. Again, anyone wanting to increase their skill in theatrical songwriting I can’t recommend BML enough. I can honestly say that I would not be where I am (literally rehearsing in New York with Broadway folks) without the skills that I learnt in BML.
We then went for dinner with George, Ants and Elliot chatting about all things and no things and everything in between. A lovely evening. That was Tuesday.
And now you find me on Wednesday, having finished a dialect coaching rehearsal and having worked with three of the performers on The Heart of the Weave. I am now back in my little apartment.
And today I think I achieved the most important thing that I have done since I arrived in NYC...
I succeeded at doing my laundry.
I feel proper New York now that I’ve washed all of my socks.