Blier’s Blog: NYFOS@Juilliard / “The Land Where the Good Songs Go”

January 8, 2014

Today was one of those days that could have been unpleasant. We had six hours of rehearsal in a room that was wildly overheated, as if to compensate for the ghastly cold outside. We took just one half-hour break, and later a ten-minute breather. In that time we staged four big group numbers plus three or four solos, and went over some of yesterday’s work too. Somehow we were still buoyant at 6 PM. Delirious and running on fumes, but buoyant. No director relishes doing the big songs that need choreography and repetition, but Mary Birnbaum kept her nerve. And I am always delighted that she lets me help her with the staging—something I can only do because I have the blessing of a musical assistant, Leann Osterkamp. That woman has saved my butt on this production, and I do hope she’s collecting valuable prizes for it.

Highlights of the day? Hmm, where do I start. In one song James Knight enacted a spry, booty-shaking senior citizen with denture issues; in another, Mary Feminear got to stick her head between Alex McKissick and Joe Eletto as they head off to what seems to be a gay nudist party; Hannah McDermott sustained the deadpan lunacy of “Cleopatterer” with a kind of ease that took my breath away. I am somewhat in awe of Raquel Gonzáles’s physical grace—she has the most extraordinary sense of stage space and such fluidity in her movement. And Ben Lund? Heart, heart, heart, heart, heart. –Steven Blier

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