Tuesdays with Corti: A Look Ahead, A Look Behind

What a day! Started out with a production meeting for Paramount’s Jesus Christ Superstar, a show that is on a par, or beyond, with some of the most ambitious work we have ever done! Dear reader, I can’t say much about what is happening here with respect to the actual discussion at the conference table. I’m afraid I’d give too much away. Among the members of the team there is certainly a lot of conversation about things we’ve never done before, indeed, things that haven’t been seen or done before anywhere. Consequently, the production is in a state of flux and thrillingly so! I can tell you the styling of the show, the aesthetic, the theatricality and, most of all, its intentions, are calibrated to the highest endeavor one might imagine for this timeless rock opera of Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber. And the cast of actors, singers, and dancers is as beautiful as the vision of our Director/Choreographer, Ron Kellum. Simply gorgeous. The meeting went on for at least three hours but after an hour and a half of exclaiming “Wow, wow, wow!”, I had to take my leave to attend Sweeney Todd rehearsal.

A week in and we have practiced, what Music Director/Conductor Tom Vendafreddo regards as, “the most difficult score in musical theatre.” To Tom’s credit, it is being sung sublimely. And we have just scratched the surface of a big chunk of Act 1’s scenes. I am loving it but not without the constant daunt to do right by Stephen Sondheim’s incredible brilliance. We have a great privilege here being afforded us to do works such as this and with it comes tremendous gratitude and responsibility. As we work on it, I have to wonder what it must be like to be Mr. Sondheim. Every day, his genius simply knocks me out! It seems the show is even greater on the page than it is to see. So loaded with intricately dazzling writing and music, so much of it missed in a single viewing of the show. Is there potential for us in our work to do something about that?

Paramount’s The Little Mermaid took its final bow on Sunday night, and ladies and gentlemen, it was a wonder. As was the entire run! Packed houses of all ages hanging on every word and song feasting their eyes on a spectacular production directed and choreographed by Amber Mak. And here we have a company of actors at the top of their form generating a joy this holiday season beyond anything I’ve ever experienced before. So many wonderful themes in this beloved fairy tale surprisingly wise and full of love. I felt absolutely emotionally sucker punched during the show’s final scene. Ariel leaves her home under the sea to wed her prince and her father, King Triton turns to her and sings:

“If only you could stay
And never say goodbye.
If only I could make time stop
Believe me, I would try.
But fathers have to learn
That daughters have to grow.
And if you truly love them
You must let them go.”

My sentiments exactly as the curtain fell.

Love & thanks,

Jim

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