So, the show has opened. Cue the swelling orchestra music. Cue the spotlight. Cue the bow.
Thank you. Thank you. It was nothing. Thanks.
Last night was kind of a preview, which means it’s a fancy dress rehearsal where people come and see the show as if it’s opening night because it kind of is opening night, but if we fuck up we say, “Well, it was a preview.”
But it went really well. The show feels different in a theater than when it was in a bar. People are less drunk, obviously (not that we don’t offer beer. If you’re coming, bring some cash. We’ve got t-shirts, beer and books. Yay!), but also when you’re not standing around in a bar and you’re sitting in velvet-ish seats, you start behaving yourself. So people aren’t shouting, “Oh, my God!” like they used to. Also, I think most of the people there last night had seen the show before more than once. It’s hard to surprise that crowd.
But when we heard A.K. give his loud, explosive laugh from the audience during one new bit, I turned to my friend and said, “A.K. thinks the new girl’s hot.”
So tonight it’s the real opening, even though we’ve already opened, and tonight we get press. Real press that come and see the show and write down notes while we act our hearts out and then maybe write nice things or back-handed compliments next to unflattering photographs of us. Can’t wait.
I find it difficult to find anything to talk about other than the show and the work I have to do. It’s taking up every second of my life right now. When I upload this entry, I have to make phone calls while eating lunch. The show opens in eight hours. I don’t have much time.
But I wanted to say this about Chicago. It’s the first musical I ever heard, and as a kid I loved it. I mean, I was three. A kid. There was something about the half-naked ladies on the album cover that made me frightened, but I loved that jazzy trumpet at the beginning and thought every song was so much fun.
Then a neighbor knocked on my mother’s door once and said, “Your daughter’s singing a song that goes ‘You’ve been screwing the milkman.’”
So the Chicago album went to the garage, and I didn’t see it again until I was fourteen. My mom found it in a box and put the album on. Wouldn’t you know it? I still knew the words. I remembered all of it. Those songs were a part of me.
I wanted to do a revival of it. I wanted to be old enough to play Roxie. Then six years later they did a Broadway revival, and I was mad at myself for not being famous enough yet to be in it. And for not knowing how to dance.
Then they were making the movie with Madonna and Goldie Hawn and I was really nervous.
Then that fell through and they picked my Katy, Texas nemesis: Renee Zellwegger. Now, if you have to pick a girl from Katy, TX who then went to the University of Texas at Austin and had all the same teachers I’ve ever had, why her and not me? Why? WHY!?! I already know all the words! Just give me the steps! Come on!
So I was sad. Sad to hear that I will never really ever get to do this show when I’ve loved it more than anyone other than Fosse loved it. And when I went to see Chicago the other week, I fully expected to be disappointed and cry and wish I got to be a part of it so I could maybe make it better.
But they didn’t need me. It was really, really, phenomenally good. It was everything I imagined it could be when I was a little girl dancing in my room, pretending to be a marionette on “They Both Reached For the Gun.” Everyone is perfect, except for Zellwegger. And it’s not just because she’s my imaginary nemesis. It’s because she played Roxie too innocent. Roxie’s not clueless. She’s maniuplative. She’s had a hard life full of rejection and disappointment. She’s hardened. Rough. Brassy. She’s not Marilyn.
And it breaks my heart that they cut all of Velma out of that show, including “Class,” one of the three best songs in the show. And what a waste of Mary Sunshine, making a woman play her and cutting her song. But anyway, the show’s fun and sexy and they made everything just perfect.
Except I want do to the “Pop” part of “Cell Block Tango.” I was born to do it. Dammit.
The phone calls are starting to roll in. I’m back to director work. It’ll be nice after this weekend to just worry about my lines, my songs and promoting the show, instead of every tiny detail that goes into making a play. But I think, if we don’t get shut down, this will be a very fun run. It certainly gets an audience to make noise, and that’s my favorite thing in the world.
Man. Ladee Leroy’s so funny she makes me want to update just to tell you guys to go read her. Go read this.