Hi from the road...
Just wanted to check in and say hi to you all. I'm in the second week of building "Cheer," and it has been a very intense gig so far. I have been working about 12-16 hours per day for ten days now, including one all nighter!! Needless to say, it's a bit draining. But the great thing about the show is that it's already fully green-lighted, and we don't have to worry about investors other than to make sure the producer remains happy with the work, which so far, he is. I'm a bit in awe of the whole situation...these people have won more Tonys than any other Broadway production company in existance, so sometimes I wonder what the hell I'm doing here. But everyone has been happy with my work, so I consider myself incredibly lucky to be in the situation. It's also my first shot at being a music supervisor (there's a lot of pop tie-ins, including songs that are label/promotional partnerships). That's a big departure for me, but it's actually quite a lot of fun. And, it looks like even though the score is primarily a pop-hit thing, I will get enough music of my own into the mix to make it worth my while on the back end.
I have a little subset of my studio set up in a classroom, in the same building where the dancers work in three dance studios. You never know what you'll encounter in this kind of situation. For me, the biggest challenge is dealing with the hosting university's lockup schedule. The doors to this building lock at 9 pm. So, if I'm not in here by 9 pm, that's the end of my work day. This has cut very seriously into my Gimlet drinking schedule.
But, the gig has been totally worth it. I'm working with a director named Mitch Sebastian, whose major hit has been The Rat Pack, which is touring all over the world. I think it started in the West End. He is a fantastic dancer and choreographer, but also a good musician, so it's very easy to communicate with him, and I like him very much. He is very smart.
The list of choreographers on this show is just ridiculous. Last week, I worked with Lisa Shriver, who came to us from The Producers. She specializes in huge spectacle production numbers, and her stuff is lovely. I also had the pleasure of working with Keith Young, who has choreographed everything from Madonna tours, to the Drew Carey show (he's the one who did the opening title, and all those nutty dance sequences). He also did the film version of Rent. It is just amazing to see these people's work, and to see really cutting edge, top of the game choreographers work with not only a bunch of great dancers, but with these amazing acrobats that can fly through the air, and tumble like Olympic gymnasts, only they're doing it five and ten across instead of individually. It's almost indescribable to sit close to the edge of the stage, and see all these bodies just flying at you.
This week, Travis Payne is in. He's the choreographer who did the "swing" Gap commercial, but he's probably best known for all his choreography for (and dancing with) Michael Jackson. He also did that gorgeous Usher thing with the skaters. He got most of the way through his first number today, and it is f-ing awesome. We also have Rob Royston, who is the world Swing Dancing champion many, many times over, and who choreographed the touring show of Swing, as well as originating most of the work on the Broadway production. He's totally fierce.
There are four more choreographers to come!! We have Tony G in, doing all the hardcore cheerleader choreography. Pretty much any cheerleading you see in a Hollywood film comes from Tony G...he's the go-to guy for all that crazy stunting. Ron de Jesus comes in next week--he's white hot on the classical scene, and his stuff is stunning. He has a piece called Prey that is one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen. Also coming next week is super-diva Maria Torres, to do some Salsa-based fight scenes and another number. Wendy Seyb will be in as well--I have not yet seen any of her reel, but everyone says her stuff is very quirky and hilarious. I'm really looking forward to it.
So, that's where I've been...
I have to jump back in and get some stuff knocked out for rehearsal tomorrow morning, which starts at OH MY GOD o'clock. I'm creating a gospel Ringshout, only in the vocal and rhythmic patterns of cheerleading. It's not as nutty as it sounds--I have had some great sessions with the dancers and cheerleaders, and have gotten loads of cool stuff. The dancers made up this stomping/clapping/fingersnap groove that is completely wicked, and we recorded it yesterday afternoon, plus a bunch of vocal stuff today. So, I'm anxious to jump in and see if I got what I needed.
Take care, everyone. I miss hanging with you guys, but should have things on this show fairly under control by the second week of August. I have been working nonstop since late March, and I am pretty much toast at this point.