Friday, 21 September 2018


I caught opening night of Mamma Mia! last night. I won't repeat what I say every time about the power of musical theatre when it's designed, built, staged and performed by pros. One of them, Stephanie Roth (who plays one of Donna's old pals) listened politely while I babbled on, repeating myself. (I had a serious crush on her Mary Poppins three years ago at Globe.) Ms Roth pointed out that in the course of its run, a show like Mamma Mia! relaxes into itself. I think she meant that once the show has reached its final form, it settles into a mature richness free of anxieties, uncertainties, doubts. Ever so subtle, this relaxing. A slight sag here, lift there. A second sooner or later with the next cue. That these performers do this without letting the show sag into lethargy--well, that's why and how they're pros. 

(I've heard actors talk about getting a show into their bones. Same thing. You don't have to learn it, you don't have to figure out where you're going. You know all that. Now you can let it sing.)

I've almost got my Oak Floors! to the point where it can relax into itself. This has been going on since I finished the first draft, which is why it felt important to get there. The piece is far from where it would be after a three-week rehearsal period with 20 actors, a 5-piece band, a director (and assistant), a choreographer, a stage manager (and two assistants), three designers (set, costume, lights), two operators (sound and lights), several dressers, not to mention the carpenters, painters, technicians, front-of-house and box office staff, and the admin apparatus of the theatre company. But I've got the walls up, at least, before the snow flies, and I can work on the interior details.
One correction from last entry: credit for the book of Mamma Mia! should go to Catherine Johnson, not Judy Craymer (who gets an "originally conceived by" credit.)

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