BWW Blog: Eric Ulloa of Goodspeed's THE MOST HAPPY FELLA - A Puzzlement
So this show marks my first time in the ensemble in my professional career. Now, I mean that just as a fact, not as an "ugh, the ensemble" type comment. In fact, my mind has been blown in these past two weeks as to the amount of extra work one must put in when the circumstances given to you are sing, dance and insert random line during a scene change where you're grabbing a stool to take offstage. Our director, Rob Ruggiero, is very detail oriented and insists on an ensemble that has their own backstories and aren't just "peas and carrots" and "hub-bubbing" in group scenes. This cast has risen to the challenge and have created a warm and inviting community chock full of relationships and intricacies. Me? I'm giving you a full committed three act riff of August: Osage County deep within my subtle, "Well, hi boss!" and "Yeah, I seen her picture. She's beautiful." As I always say, "If you give a mouse a cookie..."
Costume designs by Thomas Charles LeGalley
Another thing that comes with being in the ensemble is coming home with a brain that's been ground down to a fine powder. Throughout the day you've learned a dozen new songs and the markings and dynamics that go with them, been told of new line changes and entrances/exits that have been assigned to you and have 10 variations on what the dance number might possibly be as it evolves day to day. My solution has been to shed the last shards of my brain away once I get home like a snake skin, and the Real Housewives of (Insert City Here) and red wine usually do the trick thus far. Though tonight "Grease 2", pizza and red wine are working like a mind melting charm.
Act Two has been blocked and we are now moving into slow stumble throughs (Translation for non-theatre people: Fall flat on your face and say, "Oh yeah! THAT was the step) and cleaning, cleaning, cleaning. This is where I think the show begins to really see it's life as we all start connecting the fragments and finding our through lines and what our own journey through the piece is. As in, when do I take my pills, walk up the stairs and then scream, "Where's the Beef! Where's the Beef?" at the dinner table. (No one? No one? C'mon, I referenced the show earlier)
The dance numbers start to move beyond steps and panic and start to tell stories and weave in fun moments as we become more comfortable with the material and the steps.
We have also moved onto press shots and setting up the production publicity as a group from our cast went off to a nearby vineyard in costumes and wigs to get some great press shots. From what I hear it was a stunning location and the weather was perfect, and if this sneak peek picture tells you anything, I think great results were achieved.
Costumes and hair begin finalizing our looks before we hit the theatre and see it all under sets, lights and relation to each other. For example, my dear Noah Aberlin is one of our "Young People" and so had to lose his beloved beard. When you sign the contract and promise to alter your look to whichever way the creative team sees fit, you see your manhood swirled in shaving cream at the bottom of your sink basin.
Check out the video below!
As promised, if you send questions to www.ericulloa.com (I need attention) I will happily answer them in the coming weeks.
This week's question asks if this production has a full orchestra or the two piano version, as seen in the last Goodspeed revival which transferred to Broadway. Well, the exciting news is that it's neither. We are featuring a new orchestration with more of an acoustic sound featuring something of a chamber feel made up of around 6 players (don't quote me on that number) playing a number of wonderful insturments, and under the direction of Michael O'Flaherty audiences should be very excited. Oh, and wait till you hear this cast vocally too, perhaps the strongest singing ensemble I've personally ever heard!
Starting next week, I'll be bringing you interviews with some of our stars in the cast and creative team, and I promise you the questions will surprise you (and them for that matter). I hope you enjoyed this latest installment, and if not I blame it on "Grease 2" and that a T-Bird just started singing "Do it for our country", eviscerating the last crumbs of brains I had.