Goodnight Kiss Music (BMI) & Scene Stealer Music (ASCAP)
THE SAGA OF THE SGA SHOW 2000
Nov 2 -Nov 9, 2000
Before I went on vacation in early October, I had agreed to "co-produce" the Songwriters Guild of America end-of-year meeting "Tribute Show", this year honoring George David Weiss, (The Lion Sleeps Tonight, What A Wonderful World, I Can't Help Falling In Love With You, Mr. Wonderful, etc.,etc.) one of the world's greatest proven-through time, classic-standard songwriters. The show was scheduled for Monday, Oct. 30th, 8:00 pm.
We had already concluded several production meetings (there was originally a producer/director, and two co-producers, of which I was one.) I love live shows, and I love producing them, but I'd rather be in charge, as I like to be sure everything is planned to the 'nth. (I swear, it's not even credit motivated...more like fear motivated. Just call it one of my eccentricities.) ANYway, the producer had pretty much decided on the show material, basic cast, venue, musical director, etc., and really there was not much else to do but some staging, and overseeing things like the program, etc, which had already been mocked up (or so I thought).
As my trio was to perform, I was delighted that I would have the opportunity to focus on our preparation. As it turned out, my dear friend and trioist, Patti Shannon, caught a last-minute USO tour gig, and she wouldn't get back until the day of the show about 4:00. Being a true professional, she had secured a wonderful "understudy" (Shari Cyrkin), who was there for all rehearsals, and had the part down perfectly.
On Sat., Oct.21st, I participated in the Los Angeles Women In Music Conference at the Universal Sheraton in North Hollywood, and spoke on Internet issues. When I returned home on Sat. afternoon, as I edited our Newsletter, the phone rang and I found out that the producer had been hospitalized, and someone had to be responsible for the show and oversee the actual beast. NO problem, as it's mostly done, right? Not.
I referred to my list from the original meetings. I see lots of plans. I see no schedules, rehearsals, deadlines, checklists, all the things one does to be sure things go well. I call the musical director, and find that he's out of town working until Monday night. (That would be the Monday night ONE SMALL WEEK before the actual show.) I don't know if he's been in touch with the cast, (each artist should have set up their own rehearsal times by then), I don't know what the arrangements are or who the musicians are, or if anyone has spoken to the sound guys, light guys, video guys, still photographer, printer, Industry invitations... many of you know this list.
Monday, I find out the programs aren't done, so we have to fix them (we do by Thursday, though it keeps changing, as we remember things that must be added, etc.). The director had wanted a bio of Mr. Weiss on the back, and though the guild had a very short one, it did not cover much of what was needed. I found out at that time, also, that the other co-producer (whom I also highly admire) had been burglarized, and he would not be immediately available. Ok, to the web, find, edit, make fit to the program. Done.
We gather all the artists fax numbers (by calling them for them), playing phone tag, etc., over the next two days. We put together a "show order" list, as this show has an "MC" at the beginning of every three songs, instead of between each song, so that order is not listed as such on the programs (which aren't done, anyhow!) Each artist knows what songs they are doing, but not the order of the show. We learn one act has had a family emergency, and won't be attending. Fine, her part is reassigned.
We ask each act when they are available, and create a "chessboard", so we can see if we hit any "pools" of availability to both musical director and cast. We hit two spots, and call the rehearsals. We fax those to everyone. On and on, detail after detail, hour after hour. We hear many of the performers don't know the time and location of the gig, we fax them that information, as well. Also on Monday was the start of SGA week, and my panel was scheduled for Thursday night, (which I wanted to "double" prepare for), and also the start of JPFolks coming to town with their activities. Tues. all time was spent doing all the above. Wed. was the first "full cast" rehearsal with the musical director.
I had not met two of the cast members before, though I knew most of them, and loved them dearly. Only one of the new people was a pain, in that they would ego-sing all over the song, muddying the fine arrangement that the MD had written. Ok, fine, next year, I'll remember that, you can BET.
Wed. and Thurs. I wrote introductions for the MCs to read, along with the little jokes that the producer had requested they say. I tried to fax them the show order and the changes, but the person (NOT KELIE, thank everything good) I was given to "assist" me was too lazy to find the MCs fax numbers (or even call them to get them), and stuck material for Mon. night's show in the mail. DUH. When I heard that, I set up each MC's speech in big print (so it would be easy to read under the lights), and took them to hand to the MCs, personally, along with the current show order list.
The previous Friday, LA Music Connection featured Goodnight Kiss as their lead "Top 5 Maverick Publishers in L.A." article. So now, a week later, I am scrambling to return calls that had come in to the office from that, the ZDNet article, our normal business calls, questions about the Christmas CD and Horror Story book, etc. Friday (day and night) I spent cleaning up details for the show. Sat. was rehearsal at the Guild, and more details. Sunday I tried to find something to wear, and ran out in the pouring rain to buy some black shoes, and came home and rehearsed the vocals.
On Monday, I was at the hotel by 1:00, for the 8:00 show. I worked on staging logistics (the dress rehearsal was called for 2:30, the ONLY rehearsal artists had with the full orchestra). Of course, some artists were more than late for dress rehearsal, and the MCs weren't there... just musicians and performers. Patti, returned on time, and despite her long air trip home, sounded great, but I admit, I was on pins and needles during the first run-through when she wasn't there yet. (Shari sounded teriffic, it was just a bit out of whack for me not to know exactly what I was doing when.)
I tried to remember to have the show order and program taped to the stage door, get water and a coat rack for the greenroom, meet with the Stage Manager (Dusty Wood, who was super and helped me tirelessly with the endless list. I COULD NOT HAVE DONE IT WITHOUT YOU, DUSTY -- AS WELL AS EVERYONE ELSE, PERFORMER, ORCHESTRA, CREW OR WELL-WISHER).
We fought the logisitics of running and lighting two video cameras in the room without impinging on the audience in any way and still getting good shots. At 5:00 I had to placate the piano tuner until about 5:45, when finally the musicians left the stage, as rehearsal ran late (of course).
The drummer was quite upset with the lighting crew, as the spots were hitting him at eye-level, and he couldn't see the chart. The lighting guy said the ceiling was too low, and that was why; there was nothing he could do, no dimmers, etc. I asked if he could please gel them or find a way to reduce them, and explained to the drummer the lighting guy's angle problem.
The drummer said to turn off the spots. I said, I couldn't actually do that, as the featured singers needed spots. He said to move the acts to one edge of the stage or reset the lights. I said I couldn't actually do that, either, but I would see what I could do. The lighting person came to me about ten minutes later, said he found a way to dim them 50%, but more than that would be useless. I thanked him very much. After the show, the drummer said it was exactly the same. I literally do not know.
At 6:00 pm, Aaron Meza (who is the West Coast office director), pointed to the program where it said "Louie Armstrong... Wonderful World (recording)", which was to play at the beginning of the show before the MCs began, to set the entire tone of the show. GULP. We had all forgotten about it until that moment (it wasn't like Louie was considered at rehearsal call). We ran to the sound man who said he could accomodate a CD. Aaron went to Tower, picked up the CD, and we had it installed with maybe 15 or 20 minutes to spare. EEEEE-Haawww! Pushing the envelope.
Then, Monday night, we actually had a great show.
The POINT? Christmas contracts will be delayed until Wed. of next week. THANKS!
(C) 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 Janet Fisher, Goodnight Kiss Music, no reprints without permission, all rights reserved world wide.