Editors note – I spent this week playing the new musical MOST WANTED presented at the Sundance Theater Lab. “Inspired by the short, tragic life of Andrew Cunanan and the events leading up to and surrounding the murder of fashion designer Gianni Versace, MOST WANTED is a music theatre piece, which explores the cult of celebrity, the contradictions between narcissism and notoriety, issues of “passing”, sexuality, class and race.” Music and Lyrics by Mark Bennett, Book and Lyrics by Jessica Hagedorn.

AM set up. Rehearsed with composer Mark and musical director James Sampliner. James plays piano. I play drums. A two-man orchestra. James burns ciggs every chance he gets. New Yorker’s man, intense.

Lunch. Tent is full of gay men, middle age spinsters and backstage geeks. Thought: who’s watchin’ the cats back at home? Salad line. Look up. Wayne Knight from Seinfeld. Be cool. Don’t embarrass yourself. Don’t call him Newman. There’s the kid from 3rd Rock. Show biz invades the Utah mountains. Everybody smokes. Everybody is workin’ the network.

PM: James and I hit it again. James looks just like my brother Jeff, only Jewish and a bit more plump. Things are going well. James is really good. James is surprised that a Utah boy can hang. Intensity builds. Cigg breaks change that.

Drive home. Listen to music. Mental notes. Burn it in my brain. Get it straight.

Down beat at 9 am. Cast enters piecemeal. Director Michael begins at 8:53. Intense. First scene rehearsed has two men kiss. SF days are long ago. Actors are quick. Michael works fast. Michael works good. Michael includes everyone. Michael gets it done.

Lunch break called. Through with Act I. Run into friend and colleague Scott in lunch tent. Scott got me into this thing. Time to meet more people. Actors and musicians are like oil and water. Nothing has changed since High School. Director Michael is a big cheese. Meet musician Don Byron. Don Byron is attending the composer lab. See Newman again. Don’t say nothin’.

PM rehearsals are good. Actors are good. Director Michael rides the production team. Is this the most productive rehearsal of my life? Michael reminds me of my friend Joe Gore. Both are Jewish. Both wave palm facing, fingers curled. Composer Mark is complimentary. James declares that we are on our way. James burns another cigg.

Late AM. James, Mark and I set up again. Today’s plan: music only. James and I work it out. Play the book, man. Get it real tight.

Lunch tent. Composers table. Musician hang. Two from SF. Nice to chat the Bay. Missing burritos and TuLan lemon beef salad. Mmmmm.

Attend play Blue Door written by Tanya Barfield and directed by Marion McClinton. Powerful. Moving. Intense. Crusty musician softens his heart about theater.

James and I finish rehearsing. Feeling pressure. Realization: execution is what this is all about. Read the ink, man. Play the ink. Don’t trust your ears.

Performance tonight. Full cast rehearsal all day. More intensity. Director Michael is turning the screws. Loose run is pretty good. The flow is beginning to happen.

Oil and water are beginning to mix. Conversation with Gerrit Graham while using the head. He’s been on Star Trek Voyager, Starsky & Hutch, Police Academy 6: City Under Siege and even wrote lyrics for a few Dead songs. This may explain why he is stone deaf. Small talk with Reg E. Cathey. Brother has the voice of God. James Earl Jones has nothing on this guy. Actors man. Don’t talk to them, they’ll talk to you.

Lunch. More salad. Scott. Don Byron. Composers table. No Newman in sight. Phew. Scott asks if I want to play on an album this September with Paul Jacobsen. I’m in. Way in. Paul is good.

Final run. Flow is good. No major stops. A few screw-ups by me. Clarification with James after. Play the ink, man. Focus hard. I can do this. Focus baby, focus.

Countdown: one hour to show. Vocal warm-ups. Everyone getting into it. Stretching. Notes. Grooming. Black shirt on. I’m ready to go. More vocal warm-ups. Funny sounds. Over exaggerate. Enunciate those consonants people. Me getting nervous? Nah…not in years.

Go time. Full room. Newman. Third Rock Kid. Pressure. Peer pressure. People listen close. Heat. Sweat. Focus. Flow is happening. Boom. Bang. Bing. Missed it. Cold look from James. Laughter. James is uptight. End of Act I. James storms off to burn a nail. Peers dig it. Lead Daniel Torres nails it. More flow. More laughter. Singing good. Music good. Dialogue good. Big finish….BAM! End of play.

Jubilation. Pack up. Say goodbyes. Mark. James. Michael. Get paid. Pay sucks. Get the hell outta dodge. Blast Willie all the way home. Get that show music out of my head. Four days is enough.

Lessons learned:
1. Musical Theater isn’t my thing, even at this level.
2. Newman is everywhere.
3. Charge more next time. You don’t HAVE to do it.
4. Actors generally don’t care about other people. Would it kill ya to acknowlege me?
5. Show-biz is a world I’m happy not being in.
6. I love sleeping in my own bed. Hi Becca!
7. Cut back on reading so much James Ellroy.

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