T called late last night ecstatic about the show. He was on his way to the subway after the first music rehearsal and he said, "I just have to tell you this show rocks!" You know we hired, they hired, my old friend A as musical director after a lot of lobbying on my part because, well, I've always thought the show needed a musical director because of my limited skills as composer and arranger but the need it seemed to me was crucial and obvious this time since I with my limited skills am not even there. I had this strong feeling that A was the right person to do it. I thought he would understand the story, the approach, the songs. He's played in rock bands for years, he has formal training in composition, plays several instruments, has done a lot of theatre.
He elbowed his way into the score fast, seeming to comprehend the thing whole and know exactly what needed to be done in ways big and small, which took my breath away, not, I have to admit, in a good way at first, because he suggested a lot of changes, some of them pretty substantial. But he has been right about everything. I'm in awe of his talent right now.
So T staged the first three scenes last night, the first three songs. He's thrilled with A, thrilled with the new cast. God I wish I were there.
Meanwhile, here in Texas, JP is finishing the bodies in the garage. He's executing an idea T had for Mr. and Mrs. Borden who have to be hacked to death with an axe on stage. They only appear for moments, but it's the big scene, it's what the show is all about, so it's got to be great. They don't have to look completely real, but it needs to be gruesome.
T's idea was that two big road cases would be wheeled out on stage for the murder scene (you know those big black and silver boxes with oversized hinges and latches that they use to carry stuff around in for rock shows?), and when they're opened, inside are truncated but life-size dioramas of Mom and Dad made out of latex and dressed in period clothes. Mr. Borden is napping on a Victorian settee and Mrs. is sitting at a dressing table, both looking very proper and peaceful until blood starts gushing out of their heads. They are rigged with stage blood that, when Lizzie hits them with a rubber but very convincing axe, will be pumped out through pre-cut wounds in their heads. (The picture above is one of the crime scene photos of Andrew Borden dead on the sofa.)
I also talked the producers into hiring JP to make the props, because the other thing besides a music director that this show needs is great gore effects for the murders, and I just happened to know someone super-talented in that department too.