by Shirley Lorraine
A Peek at the Process
The Rubicon Theatre recently presented a unique opportunity. A virtual plays-in-progress event was held to show how a musical is put together. From the beginning.
The free (donations encouraged) event was a Vimeo presentation available for the asking by reservation.
Narrated by the book author, Jonathan Prince, attendees were treated to POSEIDON: The Musical, Act 1 sing-through. Music and lyrics by Andrew Lippa were lively and kept the action moving along.
The premise is not new, a play about putting on a play, but the presentation was certainly different. Action segues from a present-day theater company planning a production of a version of the Poseidon Adventure, to the 1979 action film for background and reference. As Prince narrated, he noted that each actor portrays not only their current character, but also several characters from the film.
Prince described each present and past character in detail, noting slight changes to their roles and introducing the songs. The actors themselves all participated from their respective homes or venues and all displayed charm and beautiful voices. The cast was an impressive mix of Equity actors with lengthy credits.
The problem I had in watching the event was that Prince, in his enthusiasm, went through the information so quickly I found it more than challenging to keep up and keep track of the characters shifting between the two different eras.
Personally, I think I would have preferred a succinct synopsis of the original, followed by a synopsis of the changes and introduction of the songs. It got quite confusing, to me, flitting back and forth between the now and the then. It made me wonder if folks unfamiliar with the film would make sense of all the information. It is possible that in this discussion, the director/writer was simply attempting to thoroughly fill in all the gaps. In the end, background knowledge may not be essential to enjoying the story.
Post showing of Act 1 as it is currently outlined, the video continued with an informative and illuminating discussion among the creators and actors. They spoke of which songs they liked performing and why, their opinions on the direction some of the action took, and more. Act 2 is still in the works and may be presented in a similar fashion later. It will be interesting to see which songs and ideas make the cut, which get moved around in the script, and which disappear from the final script. Even though I probably missed some information, I did enjoy learning about the process.
Rubicon strives to bring theater in all forms to their audiences by holding talkbacks with the actors during regular productions, youth instruction, classes, and unique opportunities such as this one. I appreciated being “on the inside” from the sidelines.
If health trends continue the current course of diminishing impact (and we hope they will), live theater will once again be an option soon. Please save a seat for me.