King David

Time: August 01, 2012
Place: Neighborhood Theatre Group
Role: Jonathan
Director: Faith Blevins
My Reflections
When I got the announcement about the auditions for King David, I sent an email to a friend whom I had been working with lately. I began with, “Well, this is awkward.”

You see, we had also been collaborating to develop an original version of King David. I had written the libretto and he was developing the music. Okay, we were nowhere near complete and I only had Act I completed in entirety and who knows if it would have ever been picked up, but still, I wasn’t anticipating another version to be performed. The only other script I knew existed was a concert version done years prior. I don’t believe it got enough support to become a full musical, but I suppose I was wrong.

They had acquired it. They were doing it.

I, on the other hand, was not.

Or so I had guessed. About a week after auditions, the director asked if I would help fill one of the remaining open roles. I even had a choice–Jonathan or Absalom. They both seemed equally good roles, but I chose the former. This would give me a lot of time off in the second act, as I would be dead then. If you’re going to be dead, the second act is always the best time to be ethereal. If you’re Billy in Carousel, then that’s a whole different matter.

KD would be much more difficult than most other musicals. It was essentially a light opera with tons of lyrics and a spattering of dialogues. Luckily, I didn’t have tons; at the most, I had a few pounds.

Since it is a biblical show, the sets and costumes were nearly complete before day one of rehearsing–having done three years prior of shows in the same era didn’t hurt. We simply traded around costumes.

Fortunately, I had no dancing. I had a few quick scene changes, and anything difficult ended there. It was a fairly cut and dry show for me. I came, I saw, I emoted.

Not so much for the others. For the main principals, the lyric load was so heavy that they added monitors to the orchestra pit wall to help in case of forgotten words. I’m guessing they were used more than once. Again, I had it easy, so no need for me.

I’m actually not too fond of emergency backups like that. I can see how they can really help, but it’s like having the actual words in a letter when you’re supposed to read a letter on stage. If they’re there, it’s much less impetus to actually memorize the letter. You think differently when there’s no safety net.

Full disclosure: in Funeral for a Gangster, I never memorize the letter. I just read what it says. If it were ever missing and a blank paper were used, well, the scene would then be much different.

It was a smooth run for me. I wore a costume that had a large cape. All I could think of was The Incredibles where there is dire warning about wearing a cape. But I wasn’t a villain so I figured it was okay. I suppose I was on the bad side in some ways.

We did have a fun battle at the end of Act I. I made the most out of my demise without going into a five-minute exaggerated death scene. It wasn’t easy, mind you. Dying is easy. Dying quickly is hard. I did stretch it out somewhat towards the last two shows, but I doubt anyone noticed (a final reaching gesture of the hand with a cry of “Father!” What was fun was rallying the troops each name proclaiming that this would be our finest hour, that this night, we would win the war (a la “Gladiator”). Then we would promptly go out there and lose every man without taking out any of the enemy (really?!) We just were not trained or equipped well. I blame Canaan (since Canada didn’t exit at that time).

We had some fancy posters that were very well done–very Hollywood blockbuster picture! The prints must have been 2×3 feet. After closing, they offered us our own visage, but I was in a pinch. I didn’t want to be rude and say no, yet I also knew that I really didn’t have a place or future for a larger than life photo of my face. Luckily, someone offered to take mine for me. I think it was if I ever got famous, then there’d be someone with a fancy collector’s item.

Though I wouldn’t bet too much on that.

It was a fun show, but also a heavy one. The tone is just a little too brooding and well, depressing. But it’s also powerful and includes some great moments. It’s not one I would do again, but I’m happy to have done it once.

Next: Another 60s show?