So it was all a dweam…
Dick week is done. And what a week it was.
It was the best of times it was the best of times.
I have spent the past week mourning it is all over. Sometimes life is so full and so rich that returning home to ordinary life is like, well going to the dogs. Not the dogs fault. Perfectly nice dogs. Just they are not Russell Brand, Billy Connolly, Tim Curry, Eddie Izzard, Jane Leeves, Jim Piddock, Tracey Ullman or Sophie Winkelman.
These people are the dogs bollocks. To spend an evening in their company would be delicious, to send a week, awesome. Nobody puts on a musical in 48 hours. For excellent reasons. It’s impossible. And yet, somehow, we did it.
Tuesday we had a rough read thru in a strange rehearsal space in the Valley, all dance mirrored walls and plastic moldings, with a little garden filled with dry waterfalls, and Cinderella coaches. All that is, save Russell, who was on a plane back from London where he had been testifying to Parliament about drug usage,making a sensible plea for decriminalization. The actors wandered in to enthusiastic hugs, Billy from New Zealand, where he is currently playing a Dwarf King in the Hobbit movie. In his photo which he proudly displays, his make up makes him look strangely like Robin Williams. The ladies, well what a wonderful trio of grace, beauty and hilarity. Eddie, sparkly eyed, just back from performing in Alaska. Tim happy to be somewhat recovered from physical hell. Jim cracking wise. John Du Prez busies himself at the piano. We have written three new songs since the read-thru a month ago, and he grabs people to run through their parts. Tony, our sound effects magician is banging away at a table filled with unlikely toys.
We commence a slow stagger through with frequent stops. Because this is a radio play we read from scripts, no time to learn our parts, no six weeks of luxurious time to perfect and rewrite. We get the Orpheum Theater at midnight tonight. At nine o’clock tomorrow we do a full Dress Rehearsal, then we’re on. This is all planned to the last minute with military precision by Arnold Engelman, who will be up all night supervising the arrival and installation of the set, and the lighting and the sound, and then the cameras, for we are filming this. Aubrey Powell, who shot our Albert Hall Not The Messiah in one day, sits looking fairly calm at the centre table. John Goldstone, who has seen it all before, but not quite perhaps this amount of talented madness, sits beardedly beaming. Our four microphones are marked by color and number and we bump into each other and arrive at our prescribed places in the nick of time. It is chaotic and confused. How will we ever get this done?
But these are extraordinary people, and by one o’clock Wednesday when we arrive downtown at the Orpheum, the set is up, the lighting is in progress, and The Dicktones are in place and rehearsed. The actors, well comedians really, for that, with the exception of Tim, is what they are, enter with amused smiles and funny stories. And heavens what joy they are to be with: Russell all legs and arms, wide eyed, alert and endlessly interested; Billy beaming to himself and then launching into a killer anecdote; Eddie pursuing some arcane thought with eloquent precision; Tim with mournful eyes and happy smiles sharing a cigarette with the beautiful Sophie, a comedienne and a beauty; Jim Piddock wryly and dryly funny; Tracey dark flashing eyes and peels of glee; Jane quietly sensible and yet on her second play of the day (unbelievably during this week she will continue to rehearse and film an episode of her sit com, which they have kindly switched to record at 2.30 on Friday so she can make our Curtain.)
In the basement of the Theater they have constructed a kind of encampment with make-up table set ups, and wardrobe areas screened off, and hot food, and various departments for video, and camera rooms. All of us have dressing rooms of course, but we spend our time in this basement camp with wonderful ladies with glorious hair and tats ( I said tats), and wonderfully they are all dressed in forties gear, with forties hairstyles, the chaps too are in knickerbockers and caps, for they will all be on stage as the curtain rises on the Orpheum theatre in 1941.
Some of our investors wander in to watch the madness: Sir James Dyson sits smiling happily with the gap toothed beauty Lauren Hutton. My cousin Nigel, jet lagged from London, and my second cousin in Law Richard Goulding and his delightful wife Anna beam and meet the stars. They watch the chaos as it unfolds and all seem happy and excited to be part of this, which is not a normal way to do Showbiz: no studios, no executives, no assholes…. (The Mike Nichols Rule Number One)
We do a stagger thru on stage, then we break for dinner and a costume parade and photo call.
Outside a small crowd waits patiently. We have encouraged a few friends to drop by. Our guinea pigs. A tiny audience in that Queen of Theatres, which comfortably seats two thousand. Hard to think that only last night this room was filled with two thousand French people cheering Johnny Halliday. Now it is a forties radio recording set, awaiting a live audience.
What will tomorrow hold?
Will we make it? For a preview see…