Brendan Milburn is the composer of Sleeping Beauty Wakes and a member of GrooveLily, a pop/rock band. The post below is published with permission from Brendan, and courtesy of GrooveLily’s website. For details, visit:
I shouldn’t even be writing this. I’m so behind with my part of the rewrites of our show. But I can’t help myself: today, after four years of readings and work at the McCarter Theatre in Princeton, NJ, we had our FIRST REHEARSAL with ACTORS and EVERYBODY all in the SAME ROOM. And it’s a PRODUCTION. And it’s REALLY HAPPENING. One of the great things about McCarter is that they have a big staff, and a big facility, and a very big, beautiful room in which to rehearse:
Our last first day of rehearsal here was for the Midsummer Night’s Dream we did with Tina Landau—and it was an equally auspicious first day then as today, so my hopes are high that this is going to be a wonderful ride in addition to a wonderful show.
Our 5 1/2-year old son, Mose, is on a six-week leave from his school in Glendale, CA—and a terrific school out here in Princeton has agreed to take him on. He’s very excited about the new school, his new classmates, his new coat hook and cubby, all labelled with his name. Despite his excitement, his new teachers thought it would be best if he came in later today for just a short time, to ramp up into the new school process. Consequently he attended the first hour or two of our first rehearsal, which mostly consisted of people talking about stuff he wasn’t particularly interested in, so he amused himself with Angry Birds on my phone.
There was one moment which was particularly memorable and enjoyable for him, which I just need to share: it’s tradition at McCarter for everyone in the room to stand and introduce themselves: name, job. I’m Cheryl Mintz, Production Stage Manager. I’m Valerie Vigoda, Lyricist. I’m Brendan Milburn, Composer.
Mose stood up when it was his turn, climbed up on his chair, and announced in a big theatrical voice, in front of the assembled crowd of about 50 people, “I’M MOSE, THE CAPED AVENGER!”
The design presentation by projection desinger Peter Nigrini was pretty terrific-this was the first chance we’d had to see some of his visions of how the set would transform from a sterile sleep disorder clinic into a wild, otherworldly dreamland.
After a break for lunch and a discussion of how best to organize rehearsals, Musical Director James Sampliner and I split off into separate rooms with pianos in them to teach the music to the actors. James got the patients-who used to be the ensemble, but are now more individuated, and they sing my favorite music in the show, so we’re calling them the patients. I haven’t gotten to hear them rehearse yet, because I was busy with the other actors…
I got the non-patients-the King, Sleeping Beauty, The Doctor, and The Orderly. We headed off to dressing room #8 in the Mathews part of the building (which incidentally was my shared dressing room during Midsummer back in 2006) to grind through it amidst the extremely bright lights:
These people sound great. Kecia Lewis-Evans is our Doctor, and she’s got a really powerful presence (and a very powerful set of pipes).
Bryce Ryness is just silly—he can sing anything, and I’m astounded at his range. It’s going to be a wonderful problem deciding what kind of a voice the Orderly should have, because this guy is a baritone who can belt a high C. It’s crazy.
Bob Stillman is an old friend whose beautiful, James Taylory voice is kinda exactly what I’d always hoped for for the character of the King, and he needed only a little brushing up today because he pretty much remembered the whole score from when he learned his songs for the reading at Playwrights Horizons last December.
And Aspen Vincent is, well, Aspen Vincent. I don’t want to sound like a gushy fan, but I think I’m becoming a gushy fan. She’s got exactly the sound I was hoping for when we wrote these songs-she can do rock belting, she can do musical theatery mixing, and she can pick and choose-but mostly she just sounds like what I always heard in my head, and it’s a gas.
It’s really happening. It’s finally happening. I MUST go to bed now so I can wake up at four a.m. and finish these interstitial recitative bits for Act 1, but I’m just too excited.