Today was wonderful. This morning was a sign that the students are adapting to my expectations of them, which happen to mirror New York style... meaning, I expect them to be punctual and prepared. Haha. Up until today, we have been rushing everywhere (although, fortunately, making it just about right on time). Today, we were actually early everywhere. Woo hoo!
This morning, we got to participate in a Broadway musical theater workshop. Our group met with one of the performers and a musician from Phantom of the Opera. The actress, Kris, plays Madam Firmin and understudies a number of other characters as well. She was awesome! She taught our group a few bars from Masquerade. We learned the 4 part harmony and the dance that goes along with it, and we did pretty darn well, if I do say so myself. Well, and she said so too. She commented that they all take direction very well, which is true. It is one of my favorite things about this group.
I felt like the instruction moved pretty fast, but we only learned like 30 seconds of a 5 minute song, and it took us an hour. Whoa! (This is the piece we learned on the right. We only learned up to "look around, there's another mask behind you") I don't know how those Broadway performers do it. I could never keep up with all the choreography they keep in their heads.
This workshop made me realize that I need to boost my dance skills if I am ever going to be successful at directing musical theater. So far, I have done alright doing shows with very limited dancing, but I don't wanted to be this limited for the rest of my career. I am thinking about taking some dance lessons. It is just hard to find beginning musical theater dance lessons for an adult.
In the afternoon, we decided to stay together as a group, since most of the students all wanted to do the same things- see Central Park, shop, and go ice skating. Marc and I did some research and found the cheapest way for the students to do outdoor ice skating in New York City, which was at Bryant Park, where admission is free. The students had to pay for skate rental, and where they really stick it to you is on shoe locker rental and bag check (over $22 for both), but we solved that problem by carrying all of their stuff for them. It was pretty funny. We looked rather ridiculous carrying around 10 pairs of shoes, purses, shopping bags, headphones, etc. It was a sight to be seen, but the kids had a wonderful time and pretty much had the quintessential New York City winter experience. :-)
In the evening, we headed out to Ellen's Stardust Diner, where the singers also serve food. Haha, yes, singing wait staff. It reminded me of a place I used to love as a teenager, called Ed Debevic's, which was this neat little 50s cafe in Beverly Hills (which has since closed). It was also kind of like my favorite karaoke place, Dimples, if Dimples was a diner. The food was actually great too. I think my favorite part of this dinner was the fact that I didn't do any of the work. One of the students found it, obtained the catering menus, and made the arrangements. She did a great job and everyone really enjoyed it.
Finally, we saw our last Broadway show of the trip, Chicago. It was a completely different experience from what the other shows were like, since the other shows were all about spectacle, and this one is all about the music and the dance, with a very simple set, but a featured live orchestra, that is actually all over the stage. The students didn't enjoy this one as much as the other ones (which is funny to me, since I had highly recommended we take the excellent deal I had on orchestra seats at Godspell instead, but this is what they wanted to see), but I think that it was a good experience for them, especially to really see the musicians, since that is not an experience you get most of the time on Broadway.