Thursday was another whirlwhind 18 hour day for yours truly. After teaching my morning class at UCLA, I had to run out at noon for a costume fitting at Universal Studios. It was my first time to be on the actual lot, not just the theme park. The costume department is housed in the appropriately named Edith Head building.
Although I wanted to drive around and explore more of the studio lot, my presence was expected at rehearsal so I quickly made my way over the hill to the theater in Hollywood. The afternoon was spent in a music rehearsal. There are a few lyrics which are different from any version of the show I've been aware of, particularly in the Temple scene and in the Trial Before Pilate.
In the Temple, the last verse before the instrumental break has been replaced by a completely different lyric: "What you see is what you get/No one's been disappointed yet/Don't be scared, give me a try/There is nothing you can't buy."
And in the Trial, just after Pilate's line "He's a sad little man/not a king or god/I need a crime" the chorus suddenly breaks into a syncopated spoken section: "Kill him/he says he's god/he's a blasphemer/He'll conquer you/and us and every Caesar/(random shouts)/Crucify him." Then Pilate continues, "Behold the man/behold your silent king..."
Whacky, huh? I think it sounds stupid, but maybe that's just 'cause I'm not familiar with that section. Is it from the Broadway verion? Perhaps the movie? They did add some different things for the movie. In fact, we are singing the extra verse in Hosanna where Jesus says something like, "Sing out your song, but not for me alone..." and I can't remember the rest of it. That was written for the movie, I think. Oh well, it just means I have some new lyrics to learn, but more likely I'll just be lipsyncing in those new parts!
Music rehearsal with the Priests
I sang Pilate's lines for the Trial music rehearsal, but Barry Dennen arrived for the staging rehearsals and he did a fine job. He's a surprisingly small man, but he's very sweet and I had a chance to chat with him several times throughout the day. I reminded him of the time we met at the Egyptian Theater for the JCS movie screening.
During the evening rehearsal, Teddy arrived and walked on stage to give me a big hug. He rubbed my cheek with his hand and said, "Scotty, I'm glad you're here." HE's glad?! That's just the kind of generous, loving man Mr. Neeley is. Watching him mill amongst the cast with greetings and hugs for everyone, it struck me anew what a unique individual he is -- so warm and kind. He truly embodies all the great things about the character he plays.
Ted's a very nervous flyer and today was doubly bad because of the terrorist plot foiled in London, which has made airport security even more oppressive than before. Ted phoned the producer and said he was going to skip the flight and drive to L.A. from Houston instead. It's a three day trip, which would have placed his arrival just about show time on Sunday! Rather than risk it, they hired a private jet to bring to Ted to Burbank airport. He was much happier with that, I'm sure.
Ted didn't rehearse this evening, but he did meet with the producers and went for his costume fitting. Larry stood in his place and wowed the cast with his pyrotechnic vocals. The man can sing REALLY high! We rehearsed the Temple scene and the Lepers all evening and finally broke a little after 11:30pm. It was so hot in the theater, everybody was drenched.
It's a little scary to think we haven't even finished blocking the show and we go on in two days' time. Our director Gary said we'd finish blocking on Friday so that we can add the stars in Saturday and Sunday. I'm not sure when Jack Black is arriving, but I've already heard negative things about him, or more specifically his representatives. Don't know many details but it seems some diva-esque attitudes have been copped: insisting on a private rehearsal before joining the cast, and something about balking over the contracts regarding video and audio recording of the show. The cast signed contracts for that yesterday. Seems Universal wants to film the performance for possible distribution on CD and DVD, plus a PBS broadcast. That may be in jeopardy if Jack or any of the other stars decide not to sign.
I'll keep you posted, dear reader! In the meantime, enjoy some pics I took with my new camera.
Larry Friedman (Annas) and Phil Rahn (stage manager)
The cast gets psyched for the Simon Zealotes number
Who's that sweaty guy?