We opened! THE 60’s PROJECT premiered Thursday night at the Goodspeed Theatre in Chester, Ct. (otherwise known as the Broadway of the Nutmeg State). It went fantastic considering we had no dress rehearsal, barely had time to do the tech, there were still glitches in the visual effects, scenes were still being lit on the fly, and our drummer was rushed to the hospital with slipped disc (get better soon, Ron!) requiring a replacement to come in last minute and perform the score cold. In other words – a typical opening! My eternal gratitude to director Richard Maltby Jr. and our fantastic cast for somehow getting this monster up.
Much to everyone’s delight (and relief) the show played great. The only problem – length. We took out twenty minutes and the next night it went through the roof. Yes, it was hard to cut stuff we loved but far more excruciating was having to tell the cast that their scenes or moments or songs were cut. Especially when the cuts were no fault of theirs. It was all about story – eliminating the redundancies, sharpening the focus, quickening the pace, taking out my jokes that proved to be clams.
It’s amazing what a great addition elimination can be. But tell that to the kids who sang and danced their hearts out on a number that you just killed.
In television of course, we’re faced with this problem every week. Networks tell us how long our shows can be and we can’t deliver one second over. But at least in TV you can save lifted material and use it later. On CHEERS we had what we called our “SOS” file – “some other show”. We loved those bar talk runs but if shows ran long they were always the first to go since they were always off story. There’s one I remember that David Isaacs and I wrote where the topic was “what’s the smartest barnyard animal?” That run was in and out of literally seven episodes. We wrote it early in the first season. It finally aired late in the second. During table readings the cast would get to it, stop, and say “Oh no. THIS again?” We’d say “Please perform the rest of the show faster so we could finally get this goddamn thing in.”
I had much more to say about making cuts (or “killing your babies” as the delightful phrase goes) but took my own advice and cut it.
If you find yourself near Chester, Connecticut anytime before September 3rd, come see our show, THE 60’s PROJECT. And if you have an 11:00 train you’ll be able to make it now.
Call today for best seats! 860-873-8668. www.goodspeed.org. And tell ‘em Shameless Kenny sent ya.