NEW BLOG - 'Badass Babes Savin' The Day' -- CHIX 6, The ROXPERIENCE WEEK 5
BWW is excited to present a new blog, which will follow the Early Stages of CHIX 6, a new multi-genre rock musical written and composed by Lourds Lane (lead singer and multi-instrumentalist from the national touring band, LOURDS) and directed by DJ Salisbury which is now being workshopped...
Monday, August 30
Whazzup, peeps? It's Lourds Lane (http://lourdslane.com), creator of CHIX 6, (http://chix6.com), and today is THE DAY BEFORE OUR FIRST PRESENTATION! YOWSA! Out of all days, today we have the most absentees. TJ Jordan, guitar player, is out. Kristine Bendul, dancer, is out for her matinee in "Come Fly Away" from 10-2:30. Carrie Manolakos, our lead, will be out from 1:45-4:45 to sound check for her big solo gig tonight at Joe's Pub. But onward... lots to do...
8 AM and the CHIX 6 team transferred our entire operation quickly and efficiently from Chelsea Studios to Alvin Ailey. The van was returned before 10:30 AM! Amazing... I seriously can't get enough of the CHIX 6 machine!! We made a last minute decision to move to Ailey because our guest list expanded past the capacity of our room at Chelsea. The Tap Room LLC in the lower level of Alvin Ailey is only a few feet larger than our rehearsal space, but that extra space for seats matters. Plus, Ailey FEELS bigger because of the bright lighting and the high ceilings. Temporarily plastered on the left wall of the studio were the mounted posters of the comic book representations of the cast taken from the walls of my studio apartment. Four long rows of folding chairs were lined across the rehearsal room. Some of the cast were in their performance clothes. The electric feeling of "SHOW TIME!" was in the air.
The cast arrived and director, DJ Salisbury, music director, Wendy Bobbitt Cavett, and choreographer, Ron DeJesus gave them a long list of notes. They then ran though the whole show with whoever was around. Lots of fixes and tweaks... but the energy was turbocharged. They're gonna rock it tomorrow!
Later that evening, I sat with stage manager, Gail Luna, in one of the front tables at Carrie's solo show at Joe's Pub. When I tried to buy tickets two nights before, I was so bummed because the show was sold out. Yesterday, Carrie let me know that somebody released a ticket and I should call the box office immediately. WOOHOO! Got it! DJ and assistant choreographer, Ann Cooley showed up at the Joe Pub on the night of the show on the off chance that more seats would be released-but alas, no such luck. Supported by a dynamic band and sensational background vocalists, Carrie blew everyone away with her multi-instrumental talent and her soulful pipes. I had a blast yelling my ass off and hanging out with Gail, whom I just adore. After the show, I went backstage and squeezed Carrie silly. Then... straight home! Tomorrow is the big day!!
Tuesday, August 31
PERFORMANCE DAY #1 at the Alvin Ailey Studio Tap Room LLC. Got an email from our illustrious sound designer, Brian Ronan last night that said, "I've been thinking about the new room a lot since I left there this afternoon. As you know the new space is both well lit and much more spacious. I don't want to be an alarmist but it's not the best room to try and rock out in." Uh oh. Brian said that we need to cover the mirrors with some fabric. It was a last minute hustle but Brian and stage manager, Gail Luna, were on it! By the time the crowd arrived at 3 PM, velour fabric draped the mirrors. Crisis averted! GO TEAM!
It was a jam packed day even before the performance started. By 9:30 AM, the full band set up and did a brief sound check. The cast arrived at 10:30 and received notes from DJ and Wendy. At 11:30, the cast ran through all of ACT II. 12:30, all the dances were reviewed with Ron. 1 PM lunch, 2:15 cast call, 3 PM... SHOWTIME!
My nerves were doing cartwheels... This is it! DJ opened the show with a little set-up for the audience. CHIX 6 is a multi-media spectacular. We tried to simulate the video clips and animation, but you will have to put your imagination caps on. Holding up a skull cap which is worn by the male dancer, he said that for this workshop presentation, we have only implied costumes. Also, in the final production, there will be a high-energy all-female on-stage band, as opposed to the co-ed band off to the corner. Then DJ went to the back and joined Wendy and I standing by the soundboard to watch the show.
While the show was going on, DJ, Wendy, and I were feverishly taking notes, whispering fixes to each other during the claps... Need an earlier joke in the first scene... shorten this... develop that... quicken the pace, take out the drums during the chorus... We have two more days to work on the show and we are all open-minded and thoroughly committed to make CHIX 6 the best show it can possibly be.
This first live run had a few tech issues, which is to be expected. Ruthie Ann Miles' mic went out, TJ's guitar was almost non-existent, and the sound was totally absorbed now that bodies filled the room. The overall sound level of Act I was way too low. I asked engineer, Gabe Wood, to globally boost the sound for Act II and he happily obliged. Kudos to Gabe and assistant engineer, Josh, for staying on top of the sound! Despite the tech glitches, the audience was in tears in some sections and in hysterics in others... The show worked! In the end, STANDING OVATION! Yay!
When DJ introduced me at the end of the show, I thanked the cast and creative team and rallied the receptive audience to join me in the CHIX 6 team chant... "CHIX 6 ROCKS... OCKS.... OCKS... OCKS!! " DAY 1... SUCCESS!
Wednesday, September 1
Today, the "industry" folks are invited... investors, producers, record labels, theatres, agents. I woke up this morning and Stanley Browne from the Nederlander office wanted more seats, and so did business developer, Stu Sternbach, who had money people lined up. Plus, some of the initial angel investors are in town. CHIX 6 would not have developed to this stage without them. I would be remiss if I don't give a shout out to a few of the angels with the largest wings: Luke Lucas, Annabelle Neshkin, Tommy Guyer, Dave Slivka, Rich Loathman, Matt Janis, and especially Gary Shreiber, without whom, we would not have the money for this workshop. These people have been so generous, constantly waving the CHIX 6 banner proudly. I am so eternally grateful to them. But will we have enough seats?
Gabe came in bright and early and immediately worked with TJ on the guitar sound. Soon after, the company arrived and DJ continued to clean, fix, and tighten the show. When DJ and I went over the show on the phone last night, I rewrote some of the dialogue in the script. Script revisions were printed out and the cast quickly relearned their lines for today's performance.
During lunch, I went home to change clothes and handle the ever-increasing guest list. When I arrived, there were people already waiting outside the door, including Bill Cowher, former Pittsburg Steelers coach. There was a flurry around him. A friend of Queen V and a sweetheart of a guy, he introduced himself and told me how much he loves the show. Sahhhweeet!
Highlights of the show included:
The whole Harley Davidson motorcycle scene when Danielle' Lee Greaves sings "Mama's Lookin' for a Sex Slave." Originally, "Mama" would hawk the audience and pull up a "plant" that she would flirt with onstage. But Danielle decided it would be funnier to be spontaneous and pick out a random audience member. Today, when Mama scanned the audience, I laughed out loud watching the men nervously avoid eye contact with her. Then, when she finally danced up on an unsuspecting guy, the audience just exploded with laughter. It's hysterical what these boys will do for Danielle! AHHHMAAAZING!
Molly Tynes plays "Lola Touche'," the sex kiten of the show. Her comic book arch nemesis is "Guido Libido" and his handlebar mustache is the source of his sexual power. At the very end of Molly's solo song, "Amor," the band does a musical flurry as Molly rips off the mustache (made of paper for this workshop). Exposed for the fake that Guido Libido is, the "button" for the joke is... "Got off with one tug?... Shocking!" But for this performance, Molly somehow couldn't yank off Guido's mustache... well, she sorta did... on the second try. Thinking on her toes, she altered the line slightly... "Got off with almost one tug?... Shocking!" Hahahaha! OK, so the audience didn't laugh as much as yesterday... but as the person who wrote the joke, I laughed harder. Valiant effort! You go, girl!
One of the tubes on TJ's amp broke a couple of songs before the big guitar solo in "The Only Thing Constant" at the end of ACT I. TJ was now virtually inaudible. Sound designer, Brian Ronan ran over toTJ to see if he can fix it... but the amp needed to be replaced during intermission. Nothing could be done now. This is one of the most musically climactic moments of the show and although it was a BIG bummer not to hear TJ wail, I suggested to Wendy that Julia jam out on the bass instead. Sometimes mishaps can be magical... Julia was BRILLIANT! Drummer Sarah Vasil and keyboardist/conductor, Jana Zielonka also played with a little extra zing to fill the solo up. Put our stellar rhythm section together with Kristine Bendul's breathtaking dance break and the gut-wrenching emotional build of the solo was felt-- even without the guitar!
Ailey was stuffed to capacity... BUT THERE WERE ENOUGH SEATS! WOOOHOOO! Well, somehow we made there be enough seats! Go team! DAY 2... SUCCESS!
Thursday, September 2
As I was saying my goodbyes yesterday, Stanley Browne from the Nederlander office was blown away again but gave me a dose of reality. "It's too bad you picked such a terrible week to workshop! This show is so good and I can't bring anybody to see it on Labor day. No one's around. This is the WORST time to showcase! You might as well have chosen Christmas." Wow. Ow.
Flash forward to late last night. Stanley called me after 10 PM. "You got me working over time, kid. It looks like your show is the hot ticket. I'm gonna need twenty seats for tomorrow!"
Hot ticket? Yay! But wait, did he say twenty? We're already at capacity... ah jeez...
I woke up and finally opened the two big UPS packages that had been collecting dust in my apartment for the last couple of days. I've been so focused and busy that I didn't even have a second to see what was inside. On the prodding of my business partner, Luke Lucas, I opened them up. Woohoo! Swag... Over 100 double sided, full color T-shirts that played off the name of the finale song, "I Will Start the Fire Now." They said, "The Fire Has Started! 2010" with an image of a Lady Liberty's hand holding up the torch on one side and the CHIX 6 flying V guitar logo on the other. It was a good luck gift from the initial angel investors in Ohio. I was so touched. Thank you Anna Belle Neshkin and Tommy Guyer! I feel so very blessed that I'm surrounded by such warm and generous people. MMMMWAH!
I arrived at the studio and it was the same drill as yesterday... tighten and tweak. Wendy asked if I would mind shortening the last two songs. I told her that not only would I not mind, I know exactly where the songs should be cut. In the penultimate song, "My Life," I envision the entire theatre magically filling up with colorful comic book art at the song's key change. "I Will Start the Fire Now" will be the "stadium rock show" finale where the stage will rise and the charismatic all-female band will rock out alongside the cast. At this workshop stage, as much as TJ is a great soloist, he's not a part of the cast and doesn't need to solo for as long as the female guitarist, Britt Lightning, will solo in the final production. Since both songs are highly visual, it is a no brainer to shorten the songs for this stripped-down workshop presentation.
Luke arrived at rehearsal with the boxes of t-shirts that he picked up from my apartment. I gave them out to the company as gifts. When the audience arrived, they also were greeted with the free shirts. Gotta spread the love, I always say! Bill Cowher came to the show again. I handed him a CHIX 6 shirt, which he immediately "sported!" (Pun intended... Hehe!)
Today was the best performance by far. The cast, the band, the sound - everything was spot on. It's the last show and everyone was giving 110% and feelin' it. The audience jumped to their feet way before the end of the last song. A group of college girls, daughter and friends of an investor, rushed to me with excitement: "We soooo relate! We fall for THAT guy! Bad boy... He's charming, talented, cocky, and hot as hell!! We realize now we need to respect ourselves more!" They got it! Yippee! Thank you, Mara, Mandy, and Carla! DAY 3... STANDING ROOM ONLY AND THE TIGHTEST, BEST SHOW YET!!
Equity rule: No videotaping allowed, unless the show pays out an exorbitant sum of money, which the budget didn't allow. We've all worked to so hard to develop our new show for the last 3 weeks and alas, we have nothing to show for it... well, except our awesome memories... and an extremely promising future.
Though the CHIX 6 workshop is over and the initial feedback has been phenomenally positive, there's still a lot of work ahead. As the writer, I keep learning, growing, and working on the show based on what I've learned and the input I receive. Since the show, I've already written a whole new song and made many revisions to the script. Being the over-achieving nerd that I am, I won't stop until the show is the best that it can be. THANK YOU to everyone in the ever-growing CHIX 6 family for your talent, devotion, and dedication! I am the luckiest girl in the world to be creating with you all! Please visit http://chix6.com or join our facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/pages/CHIX6/80407936780?ref=ts#!/pages/CHIX-6/80407936780?ref=ts to listen to music and find out the latest news! STAY TUNED, folks! SOMETHING BIG IS HAPPENING! Get ready for the ROXPERIENCE... CHIX 6 is coming to a theatre near you!
Danielle dances up on unsuspecting audience member
Danielle Lee Graves
Danielle, Lourds, Ruthie, Julia, Molly Sarah
Danielle, Ruthie, Queen V, Bill Cowher, and Lourds lane
DJ Salisbury and Lourds Lane enjoying the show
Eric and Carrie sing
Eric William Morris jams on his Les Paul
Gabe Wood mixes
Group hug after show
Held while flying
Justin and Kristine
Justin and Molly
Molly Tynes hangs around
Queen V bringing the rock
The CHIX clowning aroound
The CHIX come to life
The Chix ready for battle
Wendy, DJ, and Lourds
Yin and Yang