The good thing about a Table Reading is that you can have actors take on more than one role. For example, the gal who played Rebecca’s mother (a snobby character in Act I) also read the part of Sean’s sexy, Mexican lover in Act II. Kate and I are toying with this kind of idea for the actual production. Perhaps the actors who play Rebecca’s wealthy parents in the beginning, will double up as the working-class, Irish adoptive parents of Sean later on. It’s a move that would surely appeal to actors, as well as giving a break to the budget.
We invited a couple of people whose opinions we value to be our “audience.” Among them were Kate’s partner, Richard Allegro, who has been there since the idea was born; my husband, Bruce Cervi, a talented writer/producer in his own right; and our friend Stephan Wolfert. Stephan was hired by the brilliant choreographer/director Twyla Tharp to choreograph all the military sequences for the original Broadway production of Billy Joel’s “Movin’ Out.” We’re fortunate to have Stephan consulting on the military aspects of “Part of the Plan,” which include choreographing our Act I closer, "A Voice for Peace", as well as our Vietnam army camp and jungle scenes in Act II. Of course our arranger, Victor Vanacore, was also at the reading. It’s crucial that Victor has a strong feel for the story and script so that he can create arrangements that give deeper meaning to the story.
We all listened as these wonderful actors spoke our words, which gave us a sense of what worked, and more importantly, what didn’t. We cringed on occasion – oh, that line has to go, that scene is waaaay too long, that joke doesn’t work, and this one works better than we imagined! Because of the nature of a table reading, it’s not possible to hear characters sing the songs. But we played sections of the music where it would appear in the story, and of course, everyone agreed the music was magical. In addition, we got some very constructive feedback when the reading was over. My husband, who, as a rule, prefers hard-hitting action or sci-fi to Broadway musicals, had tears in his eyes as he commented, “If you can make me feel like this, you’ve got a winner on your hands.” We sure hope he’s right. The actors chose to spend the next couple of hours with us, discussing characters, structure, and the other essential elements of a show like ours. And for that we are ever grateful. We provided the wine, they provided their wisdom.
Inspired by the reading, Kate and I went back to work on the script with excitement. We enhanced some characters, and pulled back on others. We decided to move certain plot points around, including shifting the big wedding scene from Act I to Act II, which helped balance the whole play. “Magic Every Moment” now opens Act II – a joyous, upbeat, full-blown production number to bring the audience back from Intermission. We polished the dialogue, and polished it again, until we had a second draft of which we could be proud. So now what?
Having a script in hand was fantastic, but it was just the start. We knew we were ready for the guidance and direction of professional theatre people who have traveled this road before us, i.e., producers, investors, and other playwrights. Which brings us to July of 2012 and Kate’s first trip to New York City to introduce two new West Coast playwrights to the Broadway theatre community. We had no idea how they would respond to a couple of refugees from Television and Independent Films.
- Karen Harris