Wednesday, September 17, 2008
The first run thru and Dress Rehearsal were fantastic! The green hair in context works fine. The Overture is back.
I watched in AWE as the show unfolded Wednesday evening for the very first time. I watched the audiences as much as I watched the shows and I was mesmerized by both. The show makes you laugh and it might even make you cry. The story, the music, the direction and the performances together are an amazingly powerful brew.
Wednesday night the lady next to me, who had no idea I was the writer, nudged me and said, "This is so beautiful."
One of the really beautiful things about the first run through for me was hearing some of the music for the first time in the context of the show. On my last trip to Portland I was mostly writing transitions to fit between the big scenes. One of them was this little half pager after Prometheus is sentenced to the rock in which Epimetheus realizes it has fallen on him to care for the children. Michael had walked in and asked what I was working on. I read him the line "What shall become of these Innocent children?" and in an instant he was at the piano with this wonderful gentle little theme. For me it's one of the most tender moments in the whole show.
It really is remarkable. The cast is wonderful. The children will melt your heart. I don't want to give too much away, but you really don't want to miss this show.
Putting the show right up with no work shopping and really without time to make changes has been a gutsy move on Greg Tamblyn's part, but it works.
I spent the afternoon autographing show posters. This is a shot of a small corner of whole room full of my drying signatures.
So AMAZING! I sent Michael and Greg a stack of papers six weeks ago and now it's a living breathing thing. Can't wait for Opening Night!
The show was fantastic! We had the pleasure of playing to a sold out house (including over 40 friends and family that came from California, Utah and Idaho). Obviously, I can’t give an unbiased opinion of the show, but based on feedback from the audience (not necessarily friends and family), it played extremely well.
FIRE! FIRE! FIRE!
I have had the pleasure of watching audiences for three nights now to try and guage their connection with the story and characters, etc. and it’s so fun to watch the tension build and break and the relief and pleasure that fills the audience in its place at just the right moments.
Considering this was only the third time the cast had performed the show in its entirety, they are amazing. Overall they probably played a little tight, still testing and getting comfortable with their delivery and timing, but the audience couldn't have known and offered generous applause and laughter in all the right places as well as a well deserved standing ovation to close the show.
I’m confident the universal themes in the story that jumped out at me thirteen years ago when Michael first told me his idea for the story of Prometheus on the school stage in Dutch Harbor, Alaska are indeed universal. We are still in the evolutionary process of creating the show, but for a first staging this is a remarkable production.
Michael's music is phenomenal. Greg Tamblyn has pulled off the amazing feat of taking the story from the page to the stage in a matter of a very short six weeks. The sheer volume and concentration of his work in bringing together every aspect of the show is beyond comprehension.
WELCOME TO FORTUNE'S HOUSE OF CARDS
I can’t begin to properly praise the dedication and determination of the entire cast and crew who have so generously poured their creative talents and energy into the show. And of course, Kay Vega and Andrew Edwards and their board, backers and staff at the Lakewood Center for the Arts have been absolutely wonderful to work with.
This has been a night of nights.
In the words of Zeus himself, "Friends ain't life a ball when there's no last call... So here's to tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow for all eternity!!!!!!!
Let there be Opening Nights for Prometheus for all eternity!
I met with Greg at about 6pm before any of the actors had started showing up and he and I sat in the middle of the theater while he worked thru light cues. I could tell tensions were high. He led with, “Dave, remember life is a series of compromises…”
A few minutes later costumed actors started taking the stage in funky Elton Johnesque green pants, rainbow coats and sonic green wigs. I sat thru the walk thru of actors taking their marks and mumbling their lines. It was as if a cardboard doubles of the original cardboard Al Gore had possessed the entire cast.
Two days till dress rehearsal and there were still seemingly hundreds of little decisions to be made. Michael was still tinkering with the music. The Overture had become this metallic amalgam of new themes light on piano and heavy on guitar. I couldn’t believe that the show had somehow spun so far off our original concept, that after all these years of waiting and trying to hold this thing together the dark side had taken over.
The cast and crew worked the ins and outs of the show as a walk thru. “Who’s supposed to strike this table? Where do I put the fire thing? When’s the fire guy coming with the flame? This is Pandora’s box? How does it open?” I am not kidding, these are real questions from real cast members three days before opening.
The walk thru was for transitions only, so the music would start with the crescendos and fade to the end of the song and the cast and crew would descend on the set and make the moves. The mechanics of the show floated by and all I could see everywhere I looked were these crazy green wigs. It was like a Dr. Suesian nightmare. Thing One and Thing Two on steroids were multiplying and taking over my show.
Tuesday night was like being a father and having a wonderful magical bright eyed sweet daughter and then sending her off to school. Tragedy strikes and you are unable to get back to her or get her home again. So for years you hold on to this enchanted vision of your little girl. Finally, years later the moment comes when fortune has at last returned and you at last are going to meet your little girl again for the first time in all these hopeful years. And in she walks with green hair and screaming guitars, and though you try to love her you are just so dumb founded you can’t feel anything except a bewildered awkward resentment for your daughter and for the hope that led you along and then cheated you out of this moment.
It was awful. All the hope for this beautiful child of a dream that I have been nurturing for all of these years melted from my soul and the hollowness was terrifying. I called Suzi and told her the show was awful and that she still had to come, but not to expect much. I have 40+ friends flying in from all sorts of places to see the show and I was embarrassed to think that they were coming to see this “World Premier” and it was going to be a disaster. Honestly, I was devastated. That the green people had taken over.
You may laugh at this now… I can laugh at this now, but it was absolutely terrifying at the time. Greg’s final words that night as he and Michael and I parted after a rather tense and abrupt parting was, “Hey, it’s only Tuesday.”
Saturday, September 6, 2008
Monday, August 25, 2008
On to YouTube: In clicking around on Michael’s web page this week, I discovered that he has uploaded our 2006 concert and the quality is quite good. Just go to YouTube and type in David Bates Prometheus and you’ll have the whole show. For a good feel of the show I’d recommend The Feast (with Wade McCollum as Zeus and Kip Taisey as Ganymede) and The Dazzling Queen of Misfortune (the Pandora number with Julianne Johnson and Andy Lindberg as Epimetheus), Somewhere Beyond (Kirk Mouser as Prometheus and Amy Jo Arrington as Hope) and Ambition (Noah Jordan as Hermes)… actually I’d recommend them all. Raindrops and Teardrops does a good job of showcasing the children.
The Feast: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jJat1I8CkwA
Dazzling Queen of Misfortune: http://www.youtube.com/watchv=q96sFr9lWIo&feature=related
Somewhere Beyond: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m7kqzV6Dp2M&feature=related
Raindrops and Teardrops: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nIgFwA_YLkk&feature=related
The storyline has changed a bit since that version, so the narration will be a bit misleading, but considering the work-in-progress nature of that production it’s a great show.
Saturday, August 23, 2008
Last night there was a fund raising concert for the show to cover some extra expenses and to purchase the equipment necessary for some of the staging effects that Greg Tamblyn is envisioning for the show. Our most sincere thanks goes out to all those who attended and to those who so generously contributed.
I can only report second hand, but from my contact with a couple of the attendees Greg did a fabulous job of setting up the numbers and Michael and the actors delivered so poignantly and powerfully that, for instance, in Somewhere Beyond audience members were moved to tears.
Years ago I remember not wanting to see Les Miserables because I was sure there was no way a musical could capture the beauty and eloquence of Victor Hugo’s novel without trivializing and commercializing it to the point of ruining it. Once I finally gave in and saw the show I realized I couldn’t have been more wrong. As I sat with tears streaming down my cheeks experiencing for the first time the character of Fantine singing I Dreamed a Dream my epiphany was that the right music and the right lyrics added to the right story have the potential to collate into some of the most moving forces in all existence.
I still remember writing Somewhere Beyond, in fact I hope I never forget writing it. My 6’1” and still growing 16 year old son Zerin, whose greatest joy these days seems to be finding clever ways to remind me that he is now taller than his dad (Hey Dad, you know what it’s like to be this tall? Imagine you’re standing on a ladder, but you’re not …), was only about 5 when I wrote the song. He was afraid of something and couldn’t go to sleep, so I had taken him in my office and held him and rocked him and hummed the music to Somewhere Beyond to him over and over and over.
As he fell asleep and he grew heavier and heavier in my arms I was weeping almost uncontrollably. I went on with tears streaming down my cheeks (they’re coming back now) to write most of the song that night and into the early hours of the morning with my boy, my beautiful boy, Zerin draped awkwardly across my lap and with snow falling outside my windows. “My boy, my beautiful boy, is it true thou art fallen to sleep beneath the icy shroud of snow fall…” After experiencing the sorrow of that night I don’t know how a father bears the loss of a son, but I had written this song as an anthem to those fathers, Prometheus included. “…My boy, my beautiful boy, to thee I sing that our hearts may be healed by song.”
Back to the subject of the progress of the play, in talking to Greg today he assures me that the sets and costumes are coming along fabulously, and that the cast is doing a phenomenal job of bringing the story to life.
It’s such a wonderful thing to be able to have so much faith in Michael and Greg. In one of these future installments I’ll have to take a moment to write about what a pleasure the process has been working with them.
Finally, if any of you would like tickets the opening weekend, please let me know and I’ll do my best to get them blocked out for you. Also, if you’d like to try to get into opening night, do let me know. I’ve had a couple people who I had reserved tickets for who are unable to attend, so as of today I have a two extra tickets. There may be more as the show grows closer.
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Jan. 31, 2006
The shows were amazing!
Here are a few excerpts from audience emails…
“What an accomplishment!! You and David have truly created a masterpiece! Even as a "run through", the music and storyline form a powerful and magical tribute to the power of hope. What a privilege to experience this work as a sort of "rough draft.”
“Lordy lordy......Michael - you have always done big time! But this is even bigger time, if that makes sense. It is just wonderful... I want to see it again and again.
Zeus stole the show. He has a personality that directs all eyes to him... And of course Julianne is my favorite all time and her being Pandora is perfection....also Pro's brother was a real show stopper.”
“The standing ovation at the end was not the result of “irrational exuberance,” but a response to your art that was well deserved.”
“Wow! We just returned home from the performance and my feelings are fresh so I’ll share... It was as if looking at a newborn with all of those emotions involved...joy...wonder... hope and love! I laughed –cried – wondered and was amazed! The same emotions I encountered when I first saw Phantom (my fav). It was a different stage level of course, yet all of those emotions were touched! The characters were all alive especially Zeus and talented actors with such voices playing their parts! I found myself tapping my feet and shaking my head realizing that one day I will be sharing with my grandchildren the story of how I was at the birth of this play in Portland Oregon and knew one of the genius parents!!! I bless it with prayers of enormous abundant growth...infinite hope and endless love!”
“Every woman I know will buy this cd.”
So there you have it; the critics have spoken.
The following was the second installment written a in the weeks prior to the staging of our 16 song concert version in January 2006.
It’s 3:04 am and i just finished the Finale, and it’s huge! I went a little crazy filling it with big broadly appealing patriot type words like triumph, victory and glory, and phrases like fight the fight, dare to dream and raise the torch of freedom. My purpose is of course to finish the show with a bang, but my secret little thing (although now not secret anymore) is to get myself on 4th of July play lists at city parks and stadiums across the country somewhere between God Bless the USA and The Battle Hymn of the Republic while the rockets are red glaring. And I think I’ve come up with a song that just might get us there. If your have the CD of the show, it’s written to the music of Dare We To Dream.
To tomorrow is dress rehearsal and I am still under the gun to finish the narration. After days of trying, I’m finding it virtually impossible to take a 42 song show with a story that’s been spinning out new details for over ten years and summarize it in 15 one minute blurbs. At this point, every detail is so carefully crafted in my head that every time I try to edit myself i just end up focusing on new details. It’s maddening.
Here's a crazy thing. I spent Sunday evening autographing cds at one of Michael’s benefit concerts at which he played clips from four of our songs to promote the show. Funny to think people are standing in line waiting for me to write my name on something and that my little scribble makes it more meaningful somehow. They weren’t knocking down barricades and bouncers or waving Victoria’s secrets in my direction to get to the head of the line, but still I must admit I am thoroughly enjoying my 15 minutes.
Rehearsals have been absolutely remarkable. The group is so eclectic and just so visually interesting. I’ll snap some photos at tomorrow’s dress rehearsal and if I get a minute I’ll drop them in, though I don’t foresee any spare minutes till maybe Sunday morning. As far as inside scoops goes, the lovely Goddess of Hope may have trouble slipping into her little feathery bird suit (if we had one) due to the fact that she’s suddenly 5 months pregnant. It’s a girl. Pandora did finally make a rehearsal tonight. She’s an Aretha Franklinesque gospel singer that is absolutely the most amazing voice I have ever heard. She brought with her a couple of concubines for Zeus from her church choir to back up the Lord of all the Universe on his big numbers. If song really is prayer, my guess is there’s a whole line of Baptists from St. Mathias ahead of the rest of us when it comes to getting answers.
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
You are hereby officially invited to the concert premier of my musical Prometheus next Friday and Saturday, January 27th and 28th in Portland, Oregon. I must admit that having my name on the playbill hints toward a bit of bias regarding my opinion of the show, but really after all these years of working on it, it is phenomenal beyond all my expectations. If there is any way to get to the show, Go! I’m certain you’ll love it!
“The work brings to mind the works of Hans Zimmer, Howard Ashman, Alan Mencken, Tim Rice. You are certainly in excellent company, and so are they!”
Julie Cargill, Prescott Fine Arts Commission
The Prometheus Chronicle #1
Okay, so, a couple of friends have asked that I drop them notes once in a while from Portland here in the last weeks before the musical for a little behind the scenes, pre-show kind of look at things… kind of a Prometheus blog sort of thing… (okay, it’s really just my mom telling me i better write home), but anyhow… I’ve pasted a few of your addresses in the blind cc box so that if you do come to the show, you’ll feel like you’re a bit more in the know… and if you can’t make the show you’re still tied into the drama.
So, here’s a little reflection from this morning’s outing with the Park Rose Choir… pardon my arrogance in thinking this is really interesting to anyone but me; if that is the case, you know where the delete button is… if not, read on.
Just back from working with the 64 member Park Rose Choir that is going to be backing us up on a couple of songs. So cool to watch them react to the music. On the song Ambition there is the choir part at the end where they sing, “ordained to shine, ordained to shine, ordained to shine…” When the song ended this girl in the second row draws in a big breath, shivers and says, “I just love how dramatic this is!” And the whole choir goes, “Yeah!”
On Dare We To Dream, the whole choir was moving and bobbing and jiving through their, “this is the dream we dare to dream, dare we to dream, we dare to dream; this is the dream…” and at the end they break into spontaneous applause. It’s just so cool to have so visibly struck a chord with 15, 16 and 17 year old kids. I drove home thinking that at last the snowball is really really rolling and everything is only getting bigger from here.
Another fantastic scoop is that Pandora (Julianne Johnson) has made room for our show in her always busy performance schedule. She is amazing and we are thrilled to have her as part of the show! She is the quintessential Dazzling Queen of Misfortune and the part was very literally written for her. When we were trying to come up with music for Pandora, Michael and I were stuck. Then there was a knock a the door upstairs and a call through the house, "Micheal, Michael... is there any coffee in this house?" I said, Who's that? And Michael said, "Pandora!" And before Julianne made it down the stairs, Michael was halfway through the song. We couldn't be happier to have her as part of the show.
Monday, April 21, 2008
I must admit that the experience of those two shows, watching and listening as my imagination and words were brought to life, was one of the most amazingly rewarding experiences of my life. And signing autographs after a show rocks.The following are a series of emails I sent to a few close friends leading up to that show. The good news is that this posting is the beginning of a new series of postings that will follow.
Sept 12 - Oct 19, 2008
by Michael Allen Harrison & David Bates
Directed by Greg Tamblyn
The ancient Greek myth is
presented with a new musical
score by Portland native
Michael Allen Harrison. See
Zeus and the heavens ignite.
A World Premiere!
The show hasn't posted to the Lakewood Theater Company's website as of yet, but here's there link just in case you'd like to check them out. http://www.lakewood-center.org/