WHEELHOUSE workshop, day 7 of 7

(For the next little while, I’m focusing on my band GrooveLily’s new musical WHEELHOUSE, which premieres this spring at TheatreWorks of Silicon Valley.)

WOOHOOOO we did it!! Today was an epic day, and the culmination of a truly extraordinary week.
Our director Lisa had a family emergency, and so she unfortunately had to leave on a redeye last night – but her notes as always were very clear, and something we’ve discovered is that Meredith McDonough, an old friend of ours (Bren and I were her across-the-street neighbors back in the West Village several years ago) who is the New Works Director here and who’s been with us as dramaturg all week, is unbelievably in sync with Lisa – they’d never met before Monday, but by Tuesday they were each giving us separate notes which were nearly identical. There was instant trust – so although we were sad to lose Lisa for the final day, Meredith was the perfect clutch person to step in.

Val and Meredith

Schedule of the day:
5 AM – wake up and get close to finishing “Rootless Life” (or as much as we could do without our instruments)
8 AM – put in the other edits from Meredith’s notes/yesterday’s discussion
10 AM – head from Mountain View over to Menlo Park to meet Gene at the rehearsal studio, stopping off at Togo’s for pre-presentation sustenance for hungry band members (our unanimous recommendation: the Asian wrap sandwich)
10:30 AM – finish and run through “Rootless Life” (no violin part yet, but we can play it with vocals/piano/drums)
11:30 AM – get final script pages to Jeffrey Lo, our assistant director, for photocopying
11:45 AM – put scripts in order, decide on quick “staging” for the new middle section, pages 24-43
12:30 PM – presentation for designers: Kate Edmunds (set) and Jason Thompson (video projections). Also in attendance are a very few other folks, such as some staff members and donors to the theatre. PEOPLE ARE EXTREMELY ENTHUSIASTIC AND THIS IS WORKING. Just like when the soundman at a venue loves the show and that makes us feel especially great, seeing the designers really get into what we’re doing makes us incredibly happy! (They do this ALL THE TIME – they’re constantly sitting through readings of new projects – so when they get excited it really means something to us.)

Designers: Tanya Finkelstein (costumes), Jason Thompson (projections) & Kate Edmunds (set), with a cute little model of the set in progress.

2:30 PM – lunch break and design meeting, where we get to see Kate’s early model of the set, and show lots of old photos and memorabilia to Jason for possible inclusion in the projections. It is hilarious fun to dig out photos with all our various looks through the years (including Brendan’s notorious and truly awesome “mullet-with-tips”)…and give them all to a professional who will make them work somehow in a cool way on the screen. Kate’s scenic concept is simple and ingenious: three screens behind us, one shaped like an RV windshield, and the others like RV windows – so that Jason will have ample, fun surfaces on which to project – and the hope is also that each of us will have a “slip-slide” track so that we can be moved hydraulically closer or farther from each other. This is extremely exciting.
4:30 PM – pack up to go to tonight’s donor event, where we’ll play 3 songs from the show and answer questions from Meredith about the writing process, how a musical gets developed and how TheatreWorks fits into that.
6 PM – arrive and soundcheck at donor event, at lavish private home in Atherton
6:20 PM – put on coats as the night chill descends
6:40 PM – answer Meredith’s questions on the mic, then play “Open Roads,” “Leap” and “The End of the Beginning” for the nice people
7:15 PM – have a very good glass of wine, and chat
9:30 PM – stop at McDonald’s drive-thru after realizing we hadn’t eaten nearly enough at the party. Embarrassing.
10:15 PM – collapse with exhaustion.
We fly home tomorrow, and will return here in less than six weeks to start rehearsals. We are on cloud nine, and can’t wait to come back to TheatreWorks, which by now feels like our second home.

Val at TheatreWorks donor event Sunday night

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