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 will play the role of Angel in the Hollywood Bowl's Aug. 6-8 starry production of Rent (directed by Neil Patrick Harris), will blog for Playbill.com all week; his second entry follows.
It's August 2nd, and it's our first day of rehearsals at the Hollywood Bowl. I'd never seen a concert here - and I knew very little about the venue. I did, however, know that it's where the opening and closing scenes of "Beaches" took place - and the dork in me was thrilled that I got stand on the same stage that Bette Midler stood on (and yes - many of us in the cast stood center stage and sang "Glory of Love" to pay homage to the divine Miss M!).
As you can see from the picture (which was taken from the very last row) - it's a HUGE house. It will be a challenge - to tell this story that was originally conceived for the NYTW (which sat about 200 people) to an audience of over 17,000 people. But, it's a challenge that I think EVERYONE in our company is excited to tackle - and I can't wait to see how this show plays for such a large audience - OUTDOORS! To help us out, there are huge jumbo-trons on either side of the stage (as you can see from my photo) ... and I get butterflies in my stomach, knowing that my big ol' mug (in DRAG!) is gonna be on those screens. CRAZY!
We started spacing through our show on the set, in the heat, and finding our way around on and off the stage. Not gonna lie - it's a tricky space to play for actors. But, I've actually done a lot of shows at The Muny in St. Louis - which is a similar venue. It's 12,000 seats, and it's outdoors. I got my Equity card there - and since then, I've done 12 shows there - and I'm SO thankful for the experience of playing such a large outdoor venue. All that experience is definitely coming in handy.
After our long day of tech on stage, we all drove to Burbank to do a sitz probe with the band. RENT is traditionally done with five pieces. Our amazing music director, Tim Weil, has expanded the orchestrations for the Hollywood Bowl version, and we have 12 pieces in the show. Instead of hearing string pads from a keyboard (like the Broadway production), we had REAL string players. We also had a horn section - which really adds to numbers like "Take Me or Leave Me" and "Rent." I can't WAIT for this audience to hear this show in a brand-new way! Tim said Jonathan Larson had always intended for more pieces in the show - and I'd like to think that we are fulfilling his musical vision with this production.
Tomorrow is another full day of rehearsals - and a big press event! I was told E! was coming to shoot some rehearsal footage. Yup - we're in HOLLYWOOD all right!