I’m steeped in BYE BYE BIRDIE this week. I’ve listened to three different recordings of the show (the original Broadway cast, the movie with Ann Margaret, and the 1980s TV movie remake), I’ve watched the movie, I’ve played through the score and I taught “Telephone Hour” to a room full of teenagers.
I’m music directing a big benefit here in LA called “A Night At Sardi’s.” The cause is The Alzheimer’s Association and the venue is the Beverly Hilton. The cast includes a lot of celebrities, many of whom have walked through my living room this week and even stopped to pet my dog. Maybe you read about the event in the NYPost. (The funny thing about that article is that they showed a picture of Marg Helgenberger and then she dropped out. Oh well.) Here are some of the highlights of my week so far.
1. On my cell phone: “Hi, Georgia? This is Dick Van Dyke. Can you give me a call, please?” And then he left his home phone number. I saved the message.
2. An email: “Thanks for being so considerate. Fondly, Charles Strouse”
3. My 2 year old daughter running through the house, squealing: “What’s the story, morning glory? What’s the word hummingbird?”
Okay, I’m in musical theater heaven.
There’s a fine line here between gushing and name-dropping, I know, and I really try to walk that line in these blogs so I’m not one of those obnoxious people who builds a confidence with a performer and then goes and blabs about him or her online. But there’s nothing to blab.
The thing about this benefit so far has been that every performer who has come onboard (okay, okay, I’ll name drop: Steven Weber, Tony Plana, Ana Ortiz, Kristen Bell, Jason Alexander, Vanessa Williams, Zach Quinto, Lea Thompson, Michael Chiklis, Jean Louisa Kelly, Adam Wylie, Becki Newton and a whole lot of teenagers) turns out to be a major singer. Zach Quinto has a degree in musical theater from Carnegie Mellon. Kristen Bell has been in two Broadway shows — a play and a musical. Tony Plana runs East LA Classic Theatre which specializes in delivering Shakespeare to young people. The cast of UGLY BETTY tells me that they are all musical theater freaks and they spend a lot of time on set singing show tunes. (No, really?)
Maybe you already know better, but I am still a bit star-struck when I meet someone I’ve watched on TV. The shocking part for me this week has been meeting the ones that I don’t watch on TV and then googling them afterwards and realizing exactly how famous they are. And they were just here petting my dog.
Highlight #4. Email from Kristen Bell: “PS Your CD is awesome!!!! I’m singing along in the car!”
Also this week — I’ve been in the studio nearly every day with my writing partner writing and recording and re-writing and re-recording these two songs for an upcoming movie. I’m starting to understand the concept of writing by committee. We write a song. We give it to our music supervisors, and they give us notes. We rewrite the song, maybe even rerecord it, to accommodate the notes. Then they pass the rewrite on to the producer of the movie, and he has his own set of notes that have to be included into the “final version” of the song. Only it’s not really final, I don’t think, because in this case it has to be translated into another language, and then if there are tricky problems in the translation I imagine we’ll be back in the hotseat again, rewriting yet another version of the song. All I know is that at the end of it, there is a movie that will be made, and there will be a soundtrack that will be released, and it will sell in places like Target and Best Buy. And I’ve never had anything I’ve written reach quite such a large audience. So, here I go off to rewrite. Happily.
One final note: I made the mistake in an earlier blog entry to announce that I was going to be conducting WICKED in LA. I got myself over-excited and that announcement was premature. Once the reality of my schedule for this spring set in, I realized I didn’t really have the time to devote to that show and I gracefully (I hope) bowed out of it. So, alas, none of that green madness for me. Yet.