We are happy to welcome guest celebrity blogger Stephanie D'Abruzzo, who was nominated for a Tony Award for her Broadway debut in the Tony-winning musical Avenue Q. The singing actress, who will be seen in the Off-Broadway premiere of the new comedy with music, It Must Be Him, will blog for Playbill.com all week; her third entry follows.
GOOD MORNING. I’m a bad, bad girl. (I bet Army Archerd never opened with that line.)
So much guilt. I have been spending my evenings blogging instead of doing my homework for the show. Even though I don’t have a lot to memorize in It Must Be Him, I’m the kind of goody two-shoes actor who likes to make sure she’s prepared and kicks herself when she screws up (well, slaps... literally kicking one’s self requires a certain amount of flexibility). But this week I have been a tad delinquent. Fortunately I have a good deal of downtime in the show and a decent short-term memory, so I can cram a bit during other people’s scenes. Of course, then I wind up missing the chance to watch these fabulous actors work. I freely admit that I can’t help but drop everything when Liz Torres enters. She’s a stealth bomber. She makes me laugh without having to say a single word.
I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “This is Stephanie’s third blog post and she really hasn’t told us a blasted thing about the show she’s supposed to be writing about. There’s just a lot of blah blah about definitions and people and some guy named Army.”
True. I excel in blah blah. But in my defense, it’s hard to share too much about the show without having to explain things that ultimately give the whole plot away. Would you have wanted Orson Welles to blog about how Rosebud was a sled? I didn’t think so. (Oh, but can you imagine if Orson Welles was on Twitter? “Totally psyched for Masson Wine shoot today!” “Merv iz the coolest!” “Dude, I was only kidding about the aliens! Suckas!!”)
That said, I’ll try to connect some dots for you. Maybe, since the play is about a former variety-show writer, I can explain it like a TV Guide Close-Up:
IT MUST BE HIM - Live (color; 90 minutes)
Struggling scribe Louie Wexler (Peter Scolari), with the help of his agent (John Treacy Egan) and no help from his housekeeper (Liz Torres) or assistant (Harris Doran), is finally ready to hear his new screenplay out loud. Will his crush on roommate Scott (Patrick Cummings) influence his rewrites? Will channeling his parents (Alice Playten, Bob Ari) help at all? Hijinks ensue when his words are brought to life by the actors (Edward Staudenmayer, Jonathan C. Kaplan, Ryan Duncan, Jessica Tyler Wright, and Stephanie D’Abruzzo) and it’s clear that changes need to be made, in the script and in Louie’s life. [In Stereo where available. Running time approximate.]
It’s not the best summary ever, but since when did TV Guide ever provide great summaries? Or crossword puzzles? The clues were always something like “Leave it Beaver.” (It’s “to,” kids, “to.”)
Anyway, I mentioned in Monday’s post that there is a musical tucked inside It Must Be Him, with music by Larry Grossman and lyrics by Ryan Cunningham. All I can tell you about this musical is that it runs the gamut from fun to cute to sweet to lovely to absolutely filthy in ten hot minutes. And within those ten hot minutes, because the musical is a re-imagining of Louie’s screenplay, it contains, of course, a montage sequence. Montages are perfect for film and TV, but not so easy to create onstage. And so it is left to our choreographer, a dynamo named Wendy Seyb, to figure out how to execute it. One word: props. Lots and lots of props. Some props we have, but some props are temporarily improvised. The prop for, say, a big pink drink is neither big nor pink, but it has a piece of tape on it that says “Big Pink Drink,” and so it is treated as such. I wonder if I can put a piece of tape on me that says “Sutton Foster.”
Another element that I can’t really divulge too much about is costumes. Partially because we don’t yet know exactly what we’re wearing, and partially because what we do know about our costumes cannot and should not be shared here. But there are a few of us in the show with multiple roles and what could be very quick changes in very little wing space. I wonder if we’ll have to layer all of our costumes at once. I guess the plus side to that is that you get thinner as the show goes along. I’ll take it.
More tomorrow. Have a swell day, kids.