It’s now Oct. 10, and our very first audience coming to this brand-new production of “Sweeney Todd” will be present. Up until this moment, we’ll have absolutely no idea just how director Bobby Garcia’s reinvention of this Stephen Sondheim-Hugh Wheeler masterpiece will be received. All we can do is hope for the best, knowing that we have done absolutely everything we could.
In reality, as I write this, it’s very early on Tuesday morning, the night after our first run-through with sets, wigs and costumes at the Theatre at Solaire. No, things weren’t perfect at this first pass … there were missed cues, tongues twisting with lyrics, troubles with wardrobe, a couple of accidents, someone taking ill at the start of the day but was a trouper anyway and did the run-through following a full afternoon of rest, and other things that have to be addressed and fixed.
However, I’d rather look at the positive and say, we actually did a full run! Woo-hoo!
Of course it wasn’t perfect. This was the first time that many of the elements came together. We looked at how our costumes behaved in context with all the movement and blocking we’re doing. Rajo Laurel, our costume designer, was out in the house, for sure taking notes to see what needs to be looked at and adjusted.
Our conductor, Gerard Salonga, stood in the orchestra pit for the first time to conduct our répétiteur Farley Asuncion, who had been playing piano for us since our first music rehearsals, and who’ll be playing keyboards at every performance as part of the orchestra.
Gerard’s presence is a brand-new element to the process of building this show, something we now have to get used to. Starting tonight, members of the ABS-CBN Philharmonic Orchestra will be joining us and will create the sound we’ll be performing to at every show.
Over the three-day technical rehearsal period that started last Friday, sets (by Tony winner David Gallo), lights (designed by Aaron Porter) and sound (designed by Justin Stasiw) were added. Justin and Aaron attended our final run-through in the rehearsal studio in order to figure out Bobby’s vision for the show, and they have really come through.
The lighting design is exciting and crazy, and the soundscape envelops us, giving our vivid imaginations lots to play with. Justin has an extensive sound effects library; he’s definitely let us use quite a few of his treasures.
Tonight, Leslie Espinosa’s hair and make-up designs will be another layer to add, which will then inform our characters.
Sure, we’ve had photo sessions for the show, and I’ve been surprised by my reflection in the mirror. However, now we’ll get to interact with other characters whose looks are just as surprising and at times shocking.
At our first day of rehearsal, Bobby asked us all to bring a photograph of our most glamorous selves, “in order to remind everyone and yourself that you’re actually good-looking, because in this production, you’d better get used to looking not so great.”
And tonight, Thursday the 10th of October, one final element will be added: the audience.
We’ve invited some friends and colleagues to our show. Their reactions will be informative to the creative team, as well as to the cast onstage; hopefully, they’ll enjoy what they see.
Tomorrow, we’re officially opening this creation that we’ve all worked so hard on. We don’t expect everyone to like it, as always with every artistic endeavor (if you actually think everyone will love your show, you’re delusional). We do hope that you appreciate the work that went into it from everyone involved.
This is a very original take on this classic musical. All of us have been cogs in a very large machine to make this production possible. We are exhausted, but also extremely happy. And we cannot wait to attend the tale with you.
“Sweeney Todd” runs at The Theater at Solaire from Oct. 11 to 27. Tickets are available at TicketWorld (8891-9999 or www.ticketworld.com.ph).