There’s a hefty chunk of Act I (two scenes and three songs, to be exact) which is performed by the same five actors. No chorus, no entrances, no exits. That’s a long haul.
This section has been staged for some time, but it benefits from re-visiting often to keep it sharp and focused. Tonight we broke it down to both sharpen blocking and choreography, and identify intent and action within each scene and song.
The initial scene is basically “Well this is a fine mess you’ve gotten us into!!!”
The triple exclamations points here are on purpose. My note is for each actor to exaggerate their character’s personal dilemma. Bigger, bolder, broader. Everything should be truthful, but blown out of proportion for comic effect.
The following song: “I have an intricate plan which is hard to follow — until it isn’t.”
No exclamation points. It’s more like a question mark. My note here is to embrace the initial confusion which gradually gives way to understanding — and more unified choreography.
The next scene: “By George I think we’ll do it!!”
Only two exclamation points here. There is still some bickering, but the scene is all about clarifying the details. Here’s a question, here’s an answer, here’s a problem, here’s a solution.
The second song is a lovely madrigal which exclaims “What a World, What a World!”
One exclamation point. Here, for the first time, all five characters speak with a unified voice in a moment of somber reflection. The intricate music suggested a clockwork mechanism to me. So the choreography, while relatively simple, is extremely precise and includes a combination of unision and individual motions. Calculated stillness followed by mathematical shifts in position and formation. I’m afraid it’s a bit of a bear to learn. So we’ll be reviewing it as often as possible.
The final song suggests “Forget Your Troubles, Come On, Get Happy!!!”
Three exclamation points again, and this time with gusto!!! Now we jump from somber unison to happy-go-lucky unison. The inspiration here is a gang of pals in a 1940s musical who are dancing in the streets and carefree as can be.
Then the five exhausted actors march off the stage and take a break for a bit.