We are happy to welcome guest celebrity blogger Telly Leung, whose Broadway credits include Flower Drum Song, Pacific Overtures and the final cast of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Rent. Leung, who is playing the role of Angel in the Hollywood Bowl's Aug. 6-8 starry production of Rent (directed by Neil Patrick Harris), has blogged for Playbill.com all week; his final entry follows.
Yesterday was a LONG day...
We did our final dress rehearsal at 10 AM at the Bowl. That's right. Rent - at 10 AM. Most Broadway performers aren't even AWAKE at 10 AM let alone ready-to-go and performing. It was our FINAL run through with all the elements - tech, band, and of course - COSTUMES. As you know, Angel has several quick changes in the show. He has to go from a "boy" to "a boy in a dress" pretty fast - and yesterday's 10 AM rehearsal was the ONLY time I went through all of my quick changes. It was do or die - and fortunately, I made it out with all my clothes on!
The Hollywood Bowl is located in a public park - and I've heard it's somewhat of an LA tradition to go sit in the baking sun and watch the dress rehearsal on opening day. We had several hundred people there - die-hard Rent fans and folks who couldn't get tickets to our sold-out three-day run - and it was GREAT to finally play to an audience.
After the dress, we had our final note session with our fearless leader, Neil Patrick Harris and the creative team (Jamal Sims and Tim Weil). Neil is an amazing director - and was giving inspiring adjustments and very helpful notes all the way up till the final moments of the process. We all know him as such a talented actor - and I think he really surprised folks through this process with his skills as a director. I hope he gets more opportunities to direct (because he's quite good at it!) - and that we'll get to collaborate again.
In fact - speaking or surprises - I think "surprise" was the theme of last night's opening-night performance. There are so many well-known celebrities involved in this production - and it was wonderful to see a Hollywood audience embrace these performers in a different way through Rent. Vanessa Hudgens was first introduced to us through "High School Musical," which plays to young audiences - and here she is, showing us her adept skills and versatility by playing a darker character who owns up to her own sexual freedom and vices. Wayne Brady is known for being such a comic genius - and last night, he broke the hearts of 17,000 people when he sang that "I'll Cover You" reprise. Not a dry eye in the house! Nicole Scherzinger is best known as a pop-star from the group, Pussy Cat Dolls, but she's confessed to me that her first love has always been music theater, and boy does it show when she tackles Maureen. Her "Over the Moon" is show-stealing.
Before the performance, we had some inspiring words from Neil at half-hour. Also, Al "Pop" Larson spoke to the company - and welcomed everyone to the Rent family. He treats everyone who's ever done Rent as "his kids" - and we all earn the right to call him "Pop" after doing Rent. He also told us of the time that he took Jonathan out to the West Coast to visit colleges. They came to see the Hollywood Bowl, during the winter when it was empty, and Al watched Jonathan stand on that stage, and look out at the 17,000 empty seats before him. Was he dreaming of the day that he would get to hear his music played in this historic arena for the masses? That question left tears in everyone's eyes - and in our hearts, Jonathan was with us last night. As was said on opening and closing night on Broadway: "We dedicate each and every performance to Jonathan Larson."
It's been fun sharing with you this joyful experience, and I hope you've enjoyed the ride with me. Come down and see Rent at the Bowl this weekend. I'll be in LA a bit longer, to premiere my one-man show, WHO LOVES YA, BABY? at the historic MAGIC CASTLE on Thursday, Aug. 12, at 8 PM. More info. at www.tellyonline.net.
"NO DAY TO TODAY."
To view photos of Telly and his Rent co-stars, click here.