WEEK 2, DAY 2 — HEARSING AND REHEARSING THE SHOW

Full confession, I stole that headline (“Hearsing and rehearsing the show”) from my favorite Bugs Bunny song. But I stole it ’cause I think it’s a pretty brilliant lyric. And The Toxic Avenger, at its best, has the feel of classic Bugs, so it’s an appropriate theft.

Rehearsals continue to go swimmingly. We’ve done basic staging for all the scenes and numbers and now we’re romping through large swatches of the show each day. And — thankfully! miraculously! — it all still seems funny and fresh. Thank you, theatre gods.

Of course, in order to make a comedy work, besides needing two incredibly brilliant incredibly handsome nice writers, you also need a great comic director. And we got one in John Rando.

What makes a director of comedies great, you ask. Well, I answer, in John’s case, I think it’s his specificity. He knows how to tune each and every moment in the show for full comic effect. For instance, when Sarah first meets Toxie, he tells her where he’s from (“Exit 7,”) and she replies, “Oh, I hear it’s beautiful down there.” A pretty funny joke, I thought, and it’s uttered by an extraordinarily funny actress (Sara Chase.) But it was hearsed and rehearsed today and no one in the theatre (the cast, the crew, the intern with the coffee) laughed. At all.

So John told Sara, “Next time you say it, lean back on the large barrell behind you, as if you were describing the most dreamily beautiful place imaginable.”

So she did. And the whole gang in the theatre laughed. Even I laughed, and I never laugh at my own stuff. But John doles out direction like that all day. It’s pretty amazing to watch.

But before I say too many nice things about the man, I should also point out that since he won his incredibly well-deserved Tony Award for “Urinetown,” whenever one has a creative disagreement with him now, he whips out his award and says, “Oh, yeah? Tell it to Mr. Tony, bitch!”

Okay, okay, he doesn’t really do that (he’s way too nice a guy.) But if I had a Tony, I would totally do that. As a matter of fact, I might try swiping his Tony just to try that out next time David Bryan questions one of my lyrics or something. Though I guess it wouldn’t really make sense since I didn’t actually win the award. Okay, never mind We’ve been hearsing and rehearsing all day and my brain seems to be going numb.

And I just went out in the lobby, and I ran into the megatalented Leslie Kritzer, who is starring in a new show, “Rooms,” in the theatre right across from ours. It’s nice to be sharing the world of New World Stages with Leslie and her new show (which I hear is great.) And here’s a fun trivia fact, when we did our first reading of Toxic two years ago, I actually offered Leslie the role of Sarah. She couldn’t do it (I believe she was starting rehearsals for “Legally Blonde.”) Other actresses wound up playing the part in the reading and in our first production in New Jersey, and here we are in NYC with the brilliant Sara Chase.

And on a sad theatre note: Horton Foote, a great, great playwright, died today. As a writer, I so admired his ability to explore the small moments in everyday life and then build these moments into something complex and heartwrenching and beautiful. He was a stunning writer. On a happy theatre note: Horton Foote was able to write for the theatre right up to the end of his life, and we playwrights should all be so lucky.

Truly, Madly, Deeply, Profoundly, Sexily,
Joe