Sitting here in rehearsal with David, watching our powerhouse choreographer, Wendy Seyb, choreographing “Choose Me, Oprah,” which is sung by Sarah, the blind librarian, in an ode to the queen of all bookclubs. Sarah, you see, dreams of being a great and attractive writer and all she needs to become a gabillionaire is a guest spot on Oprah. As Sarah (played by Sara Chase) sings her heartfelt plea, her two best friends, Shinequa and Diane (played sparkingly by Demond Green and Matthew Saldivar) appear as her Tina Turner-esque, spangled-up back-up dancers. Hopefully, Oprah
and her lawyers won’t be pissed. It’s a love letter, Oprah! As for Sara, Demond and Matthew — them is some funny people.
That’s the kind of day it’s been. Learning music and then putting it on its feet with lots o’ dancing (note to the caring world: no one has yet to go anywhere near a piece of dialogue in this show, says the unloved bookwriter. sigh.)
Earlier in the day, David and our resident musical director genius, Doug Katsaros, taught our newest song, “Jersey Girl,” to Nancy Opel (P.S. Yesterday I spelled Nancy’s name wrong and I’ve been living in shame ever since.) “Jersey Girl” is an introductory number for Nancy’s character, Mayor Babs Belgoody. Nancy actually plays three roles in the show, The Mayor, The Toxic Avenger’s exhausted mother, and, in the opening number, a New Jersey Nun. Now, I have to confess that the New Jersey Nun never appears after the opening number. In the original draft of the show, we had the New Jersey Nun meet an untimely death when she was cruelly run over by two thugs on a motorcycle. We’ve since cut that (we figured there’s never been a hit musical in which a nun gets cruelly run over by two thugs on a motorcycle.) So now the New Jersey Nun appears in the opening and then is never heard from again. If you feel that’s bad dramatugry, think Thelma Ritter in “All About Eve.” She plays Bette Davis’ wisecracking maid in an indelible performance and delivers zinger after zinger for half the movie and then, inexplicably, she disappears for the rest of the flick. And this is one of the best movies ever written! Where’d she go? Did she get another job? I don’t know. But if it’s good enough of “All About Eve … ” Anyway, that was an incredibly long tangent to justify the New Jersey Nun disappearing after the opening number. But she does (though if you need closure she got run over by a motorcycle.)
Anyway, we’ve now given Nancy’s Mayor a splashy entrance number in which she’s backed up by two New Jesery Waste Management Executives (played sparkingly by Demond Green and Matthew Saldivar.) It’s sort of a Mitz Gaynor/Cher tribute to a corrupt Jersey politician. Nancy, of course, rocked it. Nancy is the rare actor who is a comedy writer’s dream. If you give her a line to say and she can’t get a laugh with it, you know it’s not funny and its back to the drawing board. But if you give her something that’s actually witty, she’ll hit it out of the ballpark. God love her.
So I’ve just been told that we’re going to do a read through of the show tomorrow! That means that the actors will read the dialogue (!) and sing the songs and we’ll get our first real idea of what state the show is in. I am so
petrified nauseous excited! (Note to self: have a few drinks tonight.) Till then —
Fondly, but with tasteful distance,