BWW TV Blog: Broadway-Bound CHIX 6 in Rehearsal!
Hey there! Lourds Lane again! As you know, the cast of CHIX 6 is in rehearsal now for our developmental run at the Queens Theatre in the Park. Next year, it's Broadway... and I've never been busier in my life.
So here's the deal... Last year at about this time, we had a 4 week AEA workshop, and I stepped out of the cast so I can focus on tweaking the book and music. This year, I'm back in the show. Yep, I play "Rise," the misfit nerd... because, well, I am one (Don't let the spikey boots and cuffs fool you). Carnegie Hall at 6 on violin, Harvard honors grad, youngest in my class... total geek. Plus, when I was a kid, I actually looked like a nerd... glasses, braces and braids... not pretty, folks. Every character in the show has autobiographical elements of my real life... but "Rise" is the quirky misfit... and if I were to pick one character to play 8 shows a week, it would have to be Rise. I like skipping.
Yeah, I'm a quintessential Asian over-achiever nerd and I can handle A LOT of stuff thrown at me. But, this week, I do believe my brain is about to pop right off my head. Being in the cast is hellafun... but I'm so tired at night, I can't sleep. You know that feeling? The heinously hyper little hamster is on turbo-charge in his pinwheel... and the muthaf&*%er won't quit!
Last night, I was lying in my bed with my eyes shut tight as my "Rise" lines played on repeat. Then, I started obsessing over one of the vocal harmonies, thinking we should add a 7thand living in that discord for hours. Then, I couldn't stop tossing and turning over a better opening line for "Lola Touche's" first song... Then, it became free association... Hmmm... what celebs do I know that would be down with designing a lunch box to auction off for our "Lightning Girl Fun-dation?" Crap, when will I have the time to make these calls? Thank God for "Team Lightning Girl"... (The "Lightning Girl" song at the top of ACT I plays)... "Lightning Girl's a superhero and she's fearless, she goes CRASH..." Sarah needs to play a real crash. The crashes on electric drum kits blow... and so do the snares... (Now, I hear the snare fill to "In your Pocket")... Brackum, Brackum!!... Or is it "Flacka, Flacka?" According to Kelly Carey (our swing), Midwesterners say "Flacka, Flacka"... hmmmmm... I like brackum better... the "bra" implies more of a flam, especially if you roll the "R"... Shit, gotta remember to call Ron at Sound Associates to thank him for totally hooking up all our gear... He's def a fan... what are the fans called anyway?... CHIX 6ers... Chixsters! ... Chixheads?... ewww, not that!... Chixsexies?... Chixees?......yeahhhh.... How many Chixees does it take to get to the center of a tootsie pop?... Duh, 6!!... Uh oh... what if it's not??? Should we just chomp down into the chocolaty chewy center once we hit "6" to make the numbers work??...
And so the pinwheel spins... all... night... long...
Please don't start me on musical staging. Writing the book, music, and lyrics to a musical... get it. Remembering where "upstage" is... not so much. Fronting a nationally touring rock band... totally get that. Doing a "Busbee Berkley"... mmmm... is that a disease? I've always been a bit spatially retarded. Spin me around and I am lost. So you can imagine my reaction when our director, DJ Salisbury says, "This is where Lourds will cartwheel over the bed." Pahahaha!! I responded to him by raising my index finger straight up and waving it slowly from side to side. Luckily, I have a some say. Now, I'm just jumping across the bed. As an actor in a Broadway-bound show, I am now eternally grateful to my Filipino mom for forcing me take tap, jazz, and ballet classes when I was a tot. So yeah, I can kick ball change, thank you very much... and even do a times step. Being an overachiever... AND Asian (My people try to excel in everything we do. Don't judge. It's in our DNA), by the time the curtains go up, I will be a regular Fred Estaire... or at the very least, Fred Flinstone.
Speaking of Asian, the other day I had an interview with MTV ASIA, hooked up by Bob Nederlander Jr. My mom has been telling me for years that I need bring my music to the Philippines. She says I would be HUGE in Asia! In the interview, I made sure to wear six inch spiky heels to assure the fact that I would indeed be HUGE. As we leaned against the piano at the Nederlander office, the handsome Chinese interviewer asked me questions about CHIX 6 and my background. Then, in typical passive aggressive (or is it just aggressive, aggressive?) fashion, my Asian brother cornered me into playing the piano that we were sitting on, and had me sing one of the songs from the show. Ummm... how did he know I can play the piano? Luckily, I grew up with this kind of polite, super-smiley, Asian pushiness, so I didn't flinch. From ages 3-8, my mom wouldn't let me have play time with my cousins or friends without first performing for everyone on piano and violin. This went on until the time I learned how to tap dance... then I had to do that too. So bring it on, MTV Asia! Bob said 300 million people just heard me play and now, The Chix 6 buzz in Asia has begun! So yay! Maybe mom was right!
But before I pack up my electric violin and head to the Philippines, stuff is seriously SIZZLING here in NYC. Here are some the highlights of the first week of rehearsal...
We kicked off the week with a meet and great where there were love and hugs all around. Molly Tynes, who plays the burlesque enchantress in the show, made a delicious blackberry, black cherry pie-- crust and all. Her introduction: "My name is Molly Tynes, I play Lola Touche', I come from a long line of Southern women... so eat my pie." I love her... and so will you... This chica sings straddled upside down in a hoop suspended high above the stage. Molly was just warming up in the hoop before rehearsal the other day and we were all mesmerized. Since the AEA workshop, she has been taking lessons with aerial consultant, Bobby Hedglin Taylor, for one year, preparing for our show. At this point, she is "Cirque du Soleil"-level spectacular! It's unbelievable to watch.
Then, it was 3 days of music rehearsal with Wendy Bobbitt Cavett (Mama Mia music director). Wendy is just amazing. Look, I've travelled the country with my rock band. Harmonies with the boys in my band were hit or miss.... and probably mostly miss. But no one really cared because we were so energetic onstage and the rowdy crowd was typically singing along with us really loudly. Theatre is a whole other world and Wendy pushes us to precision. We focus on when to stop the "s" sound, when we should take a breath, how much we should lean on our notes to sound balanced. The more we focus on the details, the more intuitive it becomes for us. When we sing and breathe as a unit, it's powerful. We are a tribe of superheroes after all!
Speaking of superheroes, EVERYBODY needs DJ Salisbury in their lives! He WILL save the day! Last year, I watched DJ do his thing with the actors... as an observer... while I focused on tweaking the script and music. This year, I'm an actor and really experiencing his directorial genius. His eye is impeccable and he will bring the very best out of you. His creativity and vision are boundless on every level. Folks, get to know DJ. He is a FORCE.
Choreographer, Ron De Jesus, has created a high-octane athletic dance battle befitting two comic book superheroes that will leave the audience breathless. Wendy Bobbitt Cavett charted the punches and kicks in the dance on a sheet of paper. Using existing musical themes, she created a dance arrangement that totally accentuates the movement. There's a short video clip below with CJ Tyson and Ellenore Scott Paige (Yes, that's Ellenore from "So You Think You Can Dance") rehearsing one of the dance battles. Check it out!!
Now, let's talk about our lead who plays "Katie," Carrie Manolakos. OK, first of all, I DARE you to find someone who can sing the way she does! After she sang at our table read, Kelly told Carrie, "Excuse me, you dropped something... (Kelly pretends to pick up something from the floor.) ... Oh, it's your FACE... ‘cause you just sang it off!!" When I complimented the dancers, CJ Tyson and Ellenore Paige Scott about how FEARLESSLY they dance, CJ responded, "Well, we HAVE to give it our all now that we heard Carrie sing." Get ready, kids! When you hear Carrie blow, you will all wave your open palm in the air and say "PAHRAAAAAAISE"... and I don't care what religion you are, her voice will be your God.
Brian Gallagher plays the character of "Jay," Katie's boyfriend, so authentically that there will be folks in the audience who will relate to him. He plays Jay oblivious, not nefarious... and that's exactly what I intended. And that boy is fuuuunnnny!!! Lines that were intended to be chuckles have suddenly become full blown belly laughs because of how Brian delivers them. As a writer, you can only hope for that caliber of talent in your lead actor.
Celina Carvajal plays the punk rocker, "Blaze." JEEEEEEZUS!!! That girl has the sickest, bluesiest, Janis Joplin high growl! You will see this show and you WILL want more of her. Danielle Lee Greaves and Nicolette Hart... yeah, umm... the minute they open their mouths, you will laugh. Out loud. They're such exceptional comedic actresses... and can sing like WHOA!
The swings are a whole other level of ridiculous talent. It kills me when someone can cover both the lead dancer AND the lead acting roles. Both Erica Sweany and Josh Sassannella are doing just that... they both can REALLY sing and REALLY dance. Plus, Erica is also covering Molly's aerial part, which is a whole other skill set. Ahhhmazing! Kelly Carey came in from Michigan and is covering 3 roles, including covering me for Rise. She will definitely go on as Rise because I will have to step out to see the show at some point. Boy, am I looking forward to that!! Kelly's voice is stupid good and she's so funny... and super talented. The other day, our music director/piano player, Julie McBride (who I adore), had to leave an hour before the end of rehearsal. Kelly took over and accompanied us on the piano. The cast instantly burst out into uproarious cheers. Go Kelly!! The talent in the rehearsal room is seriously sick.
Today, we all had a costume fitting. My costume is supposed to be a cyberrific world of wonder, flashing lights like a sci-fi spaceship... just like my custom-made electric violin. I just saw the designs from costume designer, Chris March (yep, finalist from "Project Runway," who has his own show now on Bravo)... and WOOHOOO!!!! I CAN'T WAIT!!! The minute The Chix 6 step on stage in full costume, comic book characters will truly come to life! I can't wait to see final costumes!! The anticipation is driving me mad!
On a side note, you know how there is magic in certain rooms? Well, our first production meeting took place in the upstairs conference room at our GM's office, where Jimi Hendrix slept and wrote his music. How cool is THAT? Right now, we are rehearsing in Chelsea Studios in a room called the "Bernard B." room. Bernard. B. Jacobs happens to be the guy who got our Executive Producer, Aldo Scrofani, his very first job in theatre. Aldo noticed that gold placard on the doorway, and he came into our rehearsal room the other day beaming. A minute later Carrie says, "CHIX 6" is my dream job. I've always wanted to originate a role on Broadway in a show that MATTERS." Then, I was beaming.
So yeah, I'm so tired, I can't sleep. But I wouldn't change a thing. I wake up smiling and it lasts the whole day long. I'm so grateful to create a show that matters with people who mean the world to me and ROCK MY WORLD. I'm having the time of my life.
For more information, visit CHIX 6 at www.chix6.com, www.facebook.com/#!/pages/CHIX-6/80407936780, www.twitter.com/chix6rocks, www.youtube.com/chix6rocks, www.lourdslane.comor www.queenstheatre.org.
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