Archive for the ‘Staging Rehearsals’ Category

Gwen requested we add “Don’t Rock the Boat” to the CRESCENT CITY playlist after we rehearsed the climactic “Judgement at the Swamp” scene. I would do so if I knew who sang it…and in any case, Gwen treated us to a beautiful rendition of it while she floated along.

I really don’t want to give too much away from the imagery of this scene but offer a few little tidbits from our rehearsal:

We also incorporated Jordann Baker’s stilt-walking skills:

And a first glimpse at Timur Bekbosunov’s Deadly Belle costume by Ivy Chou, complete with 7″ heels (another kind of stilts!):

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The climactic scene of CRESCENT CITY involves a boat floating over Alice Könitz’s Swamp. We’re almost ready to start rehearsing that scene, and Eric Nolfo has made enormous strides towards us getting there:

We kept working away at reviewing and continuing to refine scenes, and Elizabeth is right there to keep layering in lighting:

 

The visual artists have been making significant progress on their installations, and every new element they complete makes the space feel more and more astonishing. Their work is moving hand-in-hand with the performer’s development: they each get more and more confident, more nuanced, and more open with each rehearsal. Brianna Gorton installed her illuminating columns, which gives fantastic dimension to the cemetery when viewed in a constantly shifting perspective:

Olga Koumoundouros completed her spectacular chandelier for the Dive Bar:

Mason Cooley’s Shack has a jaw-dropping oragami-like roof:

Jeff Kopp diligently continues to add to the Hospital, and Alice Könitz’s swamp is taking beautiful shape, with a series of mirrored plexiglass towers creating an unbelievable landscape for the Swamp.

The total effect of all this great work is nothing short of incredible, and the singers and I are having an amazing time exploring this world:

Two more sessions got us that much further in the piece, and every step sees everyone more and more comfortable with the music, the space, and character. We started by reviewing what we have already worked on and added in a few layers, including video:

And giving more stuff for our incredible Revelers to do:

Elizabeth is working side-by-side with me at every rehearsal, which is an incredible way to work with a lighting designer. She has become the unofficial dramaturg of the production–but as John Conklin would say, “Design is dramaturgy!” I think people who see this show will see that’s the case in Elizabeth’s great design:

We had two quite full sessions and continue to move swiftly through the piece. Today we touched upon a couple climactic scenes–the “High Noon” (or in this case “High Midnight”) confrontation between the voodoo barons Carrefour (Cedric Berry) and Samedi (Jonathan Mack):

The showdown between Marie Laveau (Gwendolyn Brown) and Samedi as they fight for the fate of the city:

And Samedi mounting the Cop (also Jonathan Mack!), in a fiendishly difficult Jekyll & Hyde scene that we made good headway on:

And finally, the big Reveler hootenanny number, “A Storm It Is A-Brewin’.”

 

The Nurses’ Scene in Crescent City is a highlight among highlights in the opera: Anne’s electronica weaves so beautifully and naturally with the stratospheric soprano lines she wrote, and the characters of the two coked-up nurses hallucinating their escape from Crescent City from the helipad are so instantly engaging–the whole scene feels perfect. We rehearsed it yesterday and it was a fantastic process: Jeff Kopp’s brilliant design for the hospital made for great staging possibilities throughout. On top of that, Elizabeth spent the whole day focusing lights, so we could start seeing how the scene could look in its proper lighting states–an amazing thing to be able to do three weeks before opening!

Gwendolyn Brown, Ji Young Yang, and Maria Elena Altany made the experience simply a great one with their great humor and their adventurous spirits.

And luckily, they are also not afraid of heights!

I knew today was going to be a good day when I won a free burrito at Hugo’s Tacos in Atwater Village! In monumental projects like this one, little victories like this one almost make you want to cry with joy.

The rest of the day was very productive, including a pretty revelatory rehearsal of the scene in which Marie Laveau invokes the voodoo gods, begging them to save Crescent City. The concept I had in mind was for the voodoo gods to be on the video screens looking into the city, as if looking down at Marie from the clouds. This arose partially from the practicality of trying to get the fantastic ensemble singing Anne wrote for the Loa as unified as possible, and partially from wanting to make the scene in the Swamp as powerful as possible. So we started the rehearsal introducing the singers to the loft area:

But then we started rehearsing the scene on the ground level, and the results were just too much fun to not try and include into the full performance:

So we decided that at a certain stage in the scene, the voodoo gods would descend into the space and pick up their offering from Marie. The path they took ultimately seemed to have one ideal option: through the Swamp.

Alice and I always talked about the Swamp as being the home of the gods, the murky place where the land meets the water, so it seems like the perfect ladder from the sky to the earth for them to descend into the city like a fog. Now that there is an intermission, I couldn’t let all of Act I go without any introduction of the swamp at all, so it seems like this is the ideal way to hint at the importance the Swamp will play in the final scene of the opera.

In short, the lesson of today was: It’s amazing what a free burrito can do to your creative impulses!