Rent

The ol’ bones are movin’ a bit slow this morning. Rainin’ cats & dogs too. Okay so what am I excusing myself over? Well – I missed it last week & really want to get down to the grand piano and do a version of “All You Need is Love.”

Give me a little time to figure out a way down to the church. In the meantime you can read these thoughts I jotted down in my personal journal last night before bedtime.

Rent at Eastern

Being as I can count on two hands the number of times I’ve stepped away from the Palouse Empire in five years, it sure felt nice to get out of town for the evening. Just got back.

We were running a little late and got there just as the show was starting. They weren’t reserved seats — it was self-seating after proof of purchase. The only two seats left together were in the front row right by the (stage right) orchestra.

Quick rundown. Production was great, artistic direction was great, most actors were very good, vocal direction outstanding. Neither Cody nor I had ever seen the show before. He was displeased on the basis of perceiving the show to lack a solid plot line or sympathetic characters (the latter of which is debatable. Lack of a solid plot line may have been intentional, but the “wrapped up” ending makes me wish [a certain company] had gone ahead and produced The Burden of Eden, because one of the three reasons why they said they didn’t was because the ending was ‘wrapped up.’ Maybe I should have pointed out their hypocrisy when they produced RENT – but you know, I’m a nobody. It would have been like pointing out the “hypocrisy” of — (edit: TMI).

I didn’t like the first Act music very much. Also, this modern treatment of musical theatre, making it somewhat more like an opera (with limited spoken dialogue and lots of sung dialogue), is something it always takes me a while to get used to. It wasn’t till Act 2 that I could really appreciate the flow of it (and as Cody pointed out, the music in Act 2 seemed better too.) Once I got adjusted to it, it got better and became more appreciable.

I see how several musicals I’ve seen in recent years have followed this pattern: Sideshow was like that, and Sunset Blvd, and now Rent. It does make my work appear to be very old-fashioned, at least in structure, if not in content.

Cast was full of very strong singers, everyone with an individual body mike. Two of these singers were exceptional, those being Keva and the woman opposite her, whose name I don’t recall. Strong black woman, super voice, hit a high C & did not screech.

I turned to Cody and whispered: “Judge Jimson, Eden in Babylon.” We talked about it after the show and he concurred.

Cody commented that Keva’s performance was all-round the best performance of the show, though he copped to being biased.

I replied that even if I hadn’t have been biased, I’d have dubbed her the best performance. She was phenomenal. Singing-wise I heard some notes and turns of phrase that, in my experience, only Keva Shull can pull off effectively. And that Acting is nothing to shake a stick at. Keva’s primary artistic identification is “Musician” but the subtlety of her Acting skills is something she may not have fully recognized. I just wish we could somehow get EIB up in time for Kev to actually be Taura before she becomes too old to play a female character who is specifically written to be 18 years old exactly.

I’m trying to remember if there was ever a time in my life, maybe on one of my better MD gigs, when there were enough great singers to choose from, whenever I had some kind of musical project going on. I don’t think so – maybe back in the 80’s when I was MD of UC Davis Student Musical Theatre — yeah it seems I wasn’t hurting for female voices back then. But it also seems to me that this time in life is unique.

Maybe EIB being “different” – and this era being different — the production of it will be mounted from a radically different approach. Something tells me that’s the best bet. I just have to really reflect on how to go about it, and how to keep people on board.

Or maybe there will a magic moment when Kelsey or somebody finds a theatre in Portland or somewhere that she just happens to describe the show to, and they just happen to be interested — and a bunch of other things just “happen.”

God can make it all happen, if He wants to. I just have to seek Him. He can do it, where I can’t.

Space was pretty cool, we were up close of course, but it was proscenium and pretty cozy. I do love the way that “Seasons of Love” figures throughout Act Two.

About the five remaining songs for the album, I agreed with Keva just to leave her with the four of them and let her choose the fifth when we wax, which now looks like Winter break. We’re going to try and see Cody in Jane Eyre at that time.

Had a lot of weird new thoughts about myself and all the strange little things I keep doing wrong, or doing period — stuff I just need to chuck. Somehow it comes clear to me during a rare trip out of town, and somehow it becomes vague again as soon as I get behind my computer.

Well – it was a beautiful night. I’ll probably be back in the morning.

10:27 p.m. – 2021-11-18

4 thoughts on “Rent

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