Greetings!  Catching up with you while preparing for the RENT calls that are in the works for Aug. 1st & 2nd.  For this Round #2, there are a lot of terrific artists being called back and others being seen for the first time.  There is something about actors I guess I will never get used to…how one can take a show’s material to heart and soul and free oneself like nothing else can.  RENT is bringing out a performance in some like I have never seen.  Take the young women and the young man at Idina Menzel’s RiverEdge Park concert Friday night that sang “Take Me Or Leave Me” with her!  As cute as they were, you would never know they could sing like that…I mean, real chops…the riffs and the passion!  How they knew riffing has to mean something…not just something but everything!  Natural and fun and dazzling!  To see Idina’s face register her amazement after passing the mic to them!  Audience thought for sure they were plants!  I sat there jaw dropped at how this show was so much a part of them, every note, every lyric, felt so deeply…and I thought, of course, think of the shows I learned by heart when I was a kid…spinning worn out lps on the hi-fi stereo, and then, playing cassette tapes until they stretched or snapped…a new generation now for sure but doing the same old thing!  Entering the world of a Broadway musical and the freedom to go there, live there, escape whenever you want…this medium of live musical theatre means so much to so many…how identified the characters are, the story, the struggle!

Idina Menzel was absolutely stunning, by the way.  One could feel that those who may have come with a friend, never knowing her before…or those knowing her by her singing alone…really got to know her before the night was through.  Ms. Menzel is completely herself and one can tell she learned who she is, through her choices in life and through her art.  She shares with us who she is.  The truth.  And that is the only way she can be.  She cannot lie.  How flattered, honored we should feel, that she brings no pretense, nothing artificial.  And funny as hell!  She sings like an actor…the way Bob Fosse wanted a dancer to dance like an actor.  With all the vocal fireworks, personalizing, experiencing the scene, the story that her song tells.  “Barefoot at the Symphony,” Idina moved and grooved but also planted her bare feet, looked you in the eye, and told the truth.  Supreme and generous.

There’s a lot going on…socially, politically, rallies and protests…the passing of the superb actor, Chicago’s own Dennis Farina…the birth of a baby prince…outrage and sadness and cheering…what a mix of emotions…

It’s getting late…back to casting!

See ya later and thanks,