Webmaster’s Note: This is an excerpt of Freddie’s 25th blog for the Huffington Post, entitled Broadway’s Biggest Hit, which appeared there on 21 August 2012. There is a link to the entire HuffPost at the bottom of this summary. Freddie especially appreciates it when comments are left at Huffington Post about his pieces there. The number of comments makes a difference in readership. To comment, you can log in using your Facebook, Twitter and several other social network accounts. Or create a HuffPost account. See links in upper right of any HuffPo page.
Here are excerpts from Freddie’s latest Huffington Post blog:
The class of 2012 arrived this summer in New York after being flown from different states, being whisked off to their hotel in the center of Times Square. Everything is paid for. It’s not just a fancy trip to see shows and have a good time. It’s a combination of having a good time and eight people getting to know each other and learning more skills. Myrna and I attend. We all gathered and sat with Ken Billington (one of the great lighting designers of New York), who gave of himself (the greatest gift he could give). Ninety seven Broadway musicals to his name, Ken knows his business. He concluded a virtuoso teaching seminar knowing the financial limitations of schools and explained how to make it work with Billington secrets imparted to them. He ended by saying “If I’ve done my job right, you are never aware of my lighting. It just serves the work.” That says everything about collaboration and the essence of creating any show.
That also set the tone for a weekend of master classes with musical directors, composer/lyricists, set designers, choreographers, a director — all of whom are of fine Broadway quality and great credentials, young, energetic, bombastic, dynamic, loving what they do, theatre craft, a whole new world for all of those kids who can’t get in the show, don’t want to be in a show or are embarrassed to be in a show, can’t keep a tune, have two left feet, can’t dance, but can they do all sorts of other things that make a show work… and have fun and be part of the experience.
So much was packed into the first day that by late afternoon, the teachers needed a break and got a chance to see the first Legally Blonde JR (a 60-minute cut down version of Legally Blonde, the monumentally successful tour with over 4,000 requests to MTI for licensing to schools) performed by 75 kids. The children got scripts on Monday of that week. By Friday, we saw the performance! Two of the three authors were there: the composer and lyricist, Larry O’Keefe and Nell Benjamin. We all were riveted. Kids only wearing tee-shirts and slacks on a barren black stage with an electric piano driven by a wisp of a girl who has a 30-piece orchestra in her two hands and ten fingers and a percussionist to support her. There were no falling chandeliers, hydraulics or fog machines. It was just pure magic on a bare stage. From a Monday to a Friday, they made it (molded by loving, skilled mentor/teachers)!
Click here to see the entire blog at the Huffington Post site.