The countdown is on! It's one day before the show and we still have much to prepare before the performance. Ben Vereen arrived in the afternoon and worked on stage for a couple hours with director Gary Goddard and our Caiaphas and Annas, Chris Carey and Larry Friedman. We also worked through the Last Supper with Ben and Ted.
Scotty with Ben Vereen
Ben seems like a nice fellow, very talented, but it was surprising to note that he doesn't really know the part! Sure he played Judas on Broadway, but that was 35 years ago and he hasn't touched the material since. Our Judas cover, Chuck DiMaria, was shadowing Ben on stage and feeding him every line during rehearsal. Ben left during dinner break to go rest at the hotel and to study his script.
Gary Goddard, Barry Dennen, Ted Neeley, Ben Vereen
Outside the theater, beautiful show posters were displayed with every cast member's name and photo included! They look really great and I'm sure they were very expensive. Gary Goddard does everything first class. For a few minutes most of the cast was outside taking pictures and then a few media photographers and fans saw us and it turned into a real photo shoot of the cast on the red carpet!
"Look Ma, I made it!"
Da Boys and the paparazzi
Gary also gave us each a show poster and a souvenir program for the show, and my goodness they are so cool. The program has photos and bios of everybody involved in the production, plus a memorial page for Carl Anderson. It's a wondeful keepsake. All the cast members signed one another's posters; these will look great framed.
Inside the theater, the set has really come together. It looks beautiful with all the lighting and dressing. The crew has been working 24-hour days non-stop to get everything just right. We also have big TV cameras at the back of the house and on the balconies. They will record the performance in HD with direct sound and video feeds to the trucks outside. Then they can mix it down for the DVD release. Gosh, I hope they really do that 'cause it would be cool to have this recorded, especially since none of my friends or family will be at the performance.
Gary directs "Damned for all Time" on stage
During the afternoon staging rehearsal, I was positioned downstage when I suddenly saw the theater manager positioning a very elderly man in a wheelchair right in front of the stage just a few feet from me. This frail old gentlemen seemed very interested in observing the action on stage and he had several assistants around him with water and snacks, making sure he was comfortable. The old man looked vaguely familiar and then I recognized him as Ricardo Montalban! Of course - he wanted to see what was happening in his theater.
During a break in the action I sneaked down to take a picture with him. I told him my favorite movie of his was the Planet of the Apes movie he did. "Oh yes, I remember that one," he replied in his familiar Spanish accent. He was a very kind gentlemen and gladly posed for pictures and signed autographs for people throughout the afternoon. I was surprised that he stayed for several hours, sitting and watching everything. The house manager told me later that Sr. Montalban really enjoyed himself. He felt invigorated by all the activity. It made me sad to think that this once vital actor/singer/dancer from Mexico City who has performed in hundreds of movies, TV shows, and stage productions is now reduced to an elderly invalid. Getting old sucks.
Scott meets Ricardo Montalban
One very cool addition to the production today was the musicians. We rehearsed with the rock band in the evening and they sound awesome. I'm delighted that our old guitarist from the A.D. tour, Kim Norton, is playing the gig. Kim knows the show so well, I noticed at one point didn't even have the right music on his stand while he was playing! The band is actually upstage of the set so the actors have to be very careful not to disturb any equipment or instruments as we make our entrances and exits. The conductor and musicians got quite frustrated though since their music stand lights are controlled by the lighting designer and he kept dimming them during scene changes. "We can't see the music!" screamed the conductor many times during the rehearsal. I can't wait to hear the full orchestra with strings and brass on Sunday.
Scott hangs with Yvonne Elliman
During dinner break, I had a chance to hang out with Yvonne Elliman, our Mary Magdelene. Yvonne is such a clown and she had us all in stitches. She's also quite a flirt! She introduced us to her lovely daughter Sage, whom Yvonne obviously adores. Sage has completed a Master's Degree and is planning to go for her PhD. Yvonne told us that as a little girl Sage loved school and would come home and finish her homework and then ask her mommy for more! Smart young lady.
Jack Black as Herod
The evening rehearsal saw the return of Jack Black as Herod. He ran through his number about four times and all the cast sat in the house to watch him work. All I can say is: genius at work. Jack is amazing and hilarious at Herod. He is perfect and his scene will undoubtedly steal the show. If you don't know the show, Herod's Song sounds like an old ragtime vaudeville burlesque number with Herod mocking Jesus and taunting him for performing miracles. At one point, Ted was away from the stage so Larry Friedman, Ted's cover, stepped in and Jack played the whole number to him! Larry said later, "I can't believe that actually happened -- Jack Black was right in my face!"
Jack Black as Herod gets close to Jesus
Gary finally finished blocking all the scenes late in the evening, and then we tried a full run-through. It was rough, but we got through it and the cast members haven't done the show before got a better sense of the overall picture. It was so funny, after each scene I'd have about four or five people come up to me backstage and ask, "What's next?" Luckily, I could always tell them the right answer. This is exactly why Forbes and Ted needed me and other Superstar veterans: to help the newbies along.
The only major component still missing is Clint Holmes as Simon Zealotes. He has only one solo number in the show, but it's a big one with a lot of movement and choreography. I sang the song during the run-through -- damn, they should just give that solo to me! I also helped conduct the cast during the chorus numbers since without video monitors we can't see Craig Barna conducting since he's behind us upstage. Shoot, I could do this whole show by myself, couldn't I? (hee hee)
Not to toot my own horn too much, but I had a realization last night on my way home: I'm a pretty talented guy! I can sing, act, and move on stage. I understand stage production, I read music, I'm a conductor, and I'm a pretty nice guy, to boot. Shit, what am I doing teaching English?! I hope Gary Goddard recognizes my talents and remembers me for future productions. He is one of the most talented and successful artists in the entertainment industry, a good guy to know in this business.
It's been a long time since I've had these creative juices flowing and I really miss it. Teaching English is a fine job, but it does very little to feed the soul. Perhaps something will come of this to inspire me back into peforming more regularly. Ted has already connected me with some of his friends who run the successful Rubicon Theater in Ventura and they said they would love to have me on their team. That's a real nice thing to hear in this town.
Well dear reader, there's not much left to say. Tomorrow, the show!