Putting it Together…

Bit by bit,
Putting it together…
Piece by Piece-
Only way to make a work of art.
Every moment makes a contribution,
Every little detail plays a part.
Having just a vision’s no solution,
Everything depends on execution:
Putting it together-
That’s what counts!

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Tomorrow, Tuesday February 24th 2015 rehearsals begin for the New Broadway Musical THE VISIT.

So many elements over the years are finally coming together where this piece of art can finally be shared with everyone.

THE VISIT is a play written by the Swiss playwright Friederich Dürrenmatt.  It is a love story with all the complications that life, sex, betrayal and money can bring.  He called it a TragiComedy and Terrence McNally (Ragtime, Kiss of the Spider Woman) along with John Kander & Fred Ebb (Chicago, Cabaret, Kiss of the Spider Woman) have made it into a TragiMusicalComedy.  It is starring the theatre legends Chita Rivera (Chicago, …Spider Woman) and Roger Rees (Nicholas Nickleby, A Man of No Importance),  Directed by John Doyle (Sweeney Todd, A Catered Affair) and choreographed by Graciela Daniele (Ragtime, Once On This Island).

What a team!

It has been a long, long road to Broadway for this show.  It started with the first reading around 1998/99. I know, I was there.  I played the role of Karl Schell son to the role that Roger plays.  Now all these years later I’m too old for that part and get the juicy role of Schoolmaster Kuhn.

Anyway, I digress… There are and, no doubt will continue to be, article upon article chronicling that long and difficult journey.  I ain’t writing about that… exactly.

Needless to say it almost always takes a long time (years and years) to get a musical from the creative teams minds, to paper, to the little brains of us actors and out of our mouths in order to present it in a reading form, sitting at music stands, and workshops (ad nauseam sometimes… over and over) pitching it to men and women with money to make this dream come to fruition.  Even with a team as estimable as the one listed above it takes a damn long time.  I know!  Crazy, right?!?

Then when a producer, or producers, finally takes on the challenge to raise the money to put this dream on it’s feet it behooves them to take the show out of town to make sure all of the elements are just right so you don’t open and close on the same night when you finally do make it to Broadway.

Sets, costumes, orchestrations, lights, sound, stage managers, carpenters, wardrobe (makers & dressers), musicians & copyists, electricians, sound technicians, fly-men/women, front of house (theatre managers, ushers, concessions), stage door men/women, cleaning staff, the theatre owners and their staff, press representatives and their staff, publicity firms and their staff… “etcetera, etcetera, etcetera” (Said in your best Yul Brenner)  Then looking back at the “out of town try out” you have this whole list repeated at a slightly smaller scale, usually with a smaller budget to do everything you need to do.

Oy!  That’s a lot of people to pull off one show.  One show that has spent 16 or 17 years in development.  One show that has employed hundreds of people over the years.  One show that has had three “out of town” tryouts.

This happens, or a variation thereof, for every single Broadway show you see… or DON’T see.  It is a labor of love.  We get paid, of course, but it’s always a gamble on how long a show runs, how long you get that pay check.  You do it (theatre) because you have to you need to.  But that’s a topic for another blog entry.

Tomorrow the creative team, actors, stage managers and rehearsal pianists get together in two mid-town Manhattan studios to bring their years of experience into a room; spilling out their love, sweat and tears to polish, shine and present to the “world” the last collaboration of McNally, Kander & Ebb and the last of the un-produced, on Broadway, shows that John Kander & Fred Ebb wrote.

We do this for all of those who have come before us who have, bit-by-bit, piece-by-piece, made their contribution and played their part in putting it together.

Merde!

You can buy your tickets here THE VISIT.  Buy your tickets early!

 

“You be good… and I’ll try”

Jason

PS. Sondheim and Kander & Ebb are friends and I don’t think either would mind the crossover use of ones song to illustrate this point.

Getting to Know You, Getting to Know (too much) About You

A little primer course video on Jason with the assistance of my beautiful and talented wife Marin.

This was a promotional video that PBS did on the cast of Ring Them Bells: A Kander & Ebb Celebration on Live From Lincoln Center.  It aired in 2013.  It starred Me, Marin Mazzie, Chita Rivera, Joel Grey and was conducted by Rob Fisher.  A great concert!

You can see the whole concert here. Ring Them Bells: A Kander & Ebb Celebration!

“You be good… and I’ll try!”

Jason

Willkommen, Bienvenue, Welcome, Come on in…

A nod to Madeleine Kahn in BLAZING SADDLES.  If you know the reference that might sum up, or at least give you a good idea to, my humor.  On the surface it may be silly but under the surface just a little savvy.

Welcome to my blog!

I’ve been intending to do something like this for some time but have never let the cojones drop low enough to allow myself.

Who am I?  My name is Jason (rhymes with Mason) Danieley (rhymes with Cocker-Spanieley)  I’m a “Broadway” singing actor.  Really a singing actor who has worked on Broadway a few times, off-Broadway a few times, off-off Broadway, in Regional theatre, Dinner Theatre, Summer Stock, at Theme Parks, in a Barbershop Quartet, on a Riverboat, in a Band, as a soloist with Symphony Orchestras around the world, in Cabarets, in theatrical concert stagings of musicals with symphonies, I’ve taught Master Classes at Universities… you name it, if it includes singing and acting or talking about singing and acting I’ve probably done it.

Wait, don’t run away so quickly!  It’s often a misconception that music theatre actors are these over the top, hammy types who don’t have an ounce of realism in their being.  That is definitely necessary in certain situations but not ALL music theatre is like that any more.  And that balancing act between styles is what we call the craft of acting.

And just because you are a singer doesn’t mean you can’t act.  On the contrary, you must be able to act exceedingly well and be quite flexible and facile to do so within the confines of what the composer puts on the page for you to sing; how soft, how loud, how long to hold certain words, your inflections and pacing is all laid out for you.  Now make that all sound natural and effortless!  Oh, and by the way the choreographer wants you to do these moves while you are doing all of that.  The moves may be a little complicated and make you winded but if you could make that look easy and not tiring we’d like for you to do that eight times a week.

No, this isn’t going to be a blog about the craft of acting for the music theatre and it’s not going to be a soap box for a dying or outdated style of acting in theatre.  I’m just proud of what I do and am continually curious and intrigued by what I am lucky enough to do for a living.

I’m a husband (to another singing actor. Do you know who?)

I’m a runner (half and full marathons)

I’m a dog owner (miniature schnauzer named Oscar)

I’m a joke teller (I excel at the dirty kind)

… any and all of these things may show up here.

I consider this my own private (Ha! Only everyone on the world-wide-internets can read it) blog where I’ll share whatever is on my mind at a given moment.

I’ve started writing now as I’m getting ready to begin rehearsals for my latest Broadway show called THE VISIT.  A musical version of the Friederich Dürrenmatt play by the same name adapted by Terrence McNally with music and lyrics by John Kander & Fred Ebb.  It stars the great Chita Rivera and Roger Rees directed by John Doyle and choreography by Graciela Danielle.

Come back periodically and see what’s happening.

As my great grandfather used to say:  “You be good… and I’ll try!”
Jason