Claire Robinson Genius Hour

I’ve been using a lot of different resources this week from a director’s manual written by a Broadway director to posts on twitter from experienced director’s describing their jobs. Really the entire process of preparing for a musical number is driven by the director(s). Of course the actors have to make the production come to life but the director has to convey exactly what they want done with the piece and how they want all other parties, actors, dancers, lights, crew, sound technicians, to tell the story at hand. There are a lot of different processes going on within the actual preparation of a musical. The dancers, as well as the actors, have to go to choreography sessions. Anybody who’s singing has to do vocal run throughs and singing sessions with the in house singing expert. The crew is constantly editing and revising set pieces and wardrobe is always making changes to make things run smoother. A LOT of work goes into these musicals. At the center of it all is the director making sure that every step and note is fine tuned to tell the story in the exact way they intend it to be told. This week I took my shot at being a director. Myself and a group of seven other students stayed an hour and a half after school to choreograph and rehearse a musical number set to Hello! from the Broadway production of The Book of Mormon. I struggled to find a musical number that would both tell a story within itself and would also be fun to perform as well as watch. This Monday, Mrs. K pulled up my color coded script of the number on the projector for the cast to read as we focused on timing and the placement of people. I have attached a few videos of our progress throughout the rehearsal session. I found that the hardest part of directing so far was getting my cast to loosen up and have fun with the production. There could’ve been multiple factors to blame for this lack of movement. After multiple run throughs we successfully executed the entire number correctly and did it well. Now all that’s left to do is filming and tweaking costumes to perfect the “Mormon look”. Overall, I’m very excited to be making headway with this project and I couldn’t have picked a more talented and enthusiastic cast.

Through this project I have learned that I am a huge planner. If I don’t have everything perfectly planned out, it doesn’t happen. I also learned that I really love musical theater and the culture that comes with it. This Wednesday we are going to rehearse for about an hour right after school. I have written out a script and sent out a link to a lyric video for my potential cast to make themselves familiar with the words, movements, and mood of the musical we’re going to be performing. I attempted to get a rehearsal done and that kind of ended up flopping so as of right now I’m planning on having an hour and a half long practice Monday after school. The script is color coded and I am pretty lenient on who is going to be playing each part. It doesn’t have to be a Broadway production, just a production in general would suffice. On Broadway once a show is written and the director begins rehearsals he or she writes everything they plan out in the script so I plan on doing that as well to give myself guidance as well as room to elaborate on past ideas and form brand new ones. Now I need to get everything together and plan how we’re going to film this. It’s starting to seem like a hard task but I know that once everything gets rolling it won’t be so stressful.

I have learned that striking up interest in doing a musical number in Thrall, Texas is actually a pretty hard task to take on. I sent out a mass email to about two hundred Thrall High School students and in return got about 9 replies. Honestly, it's more than I expected. At this current moment I've decided to do more of a music video than a live Broadway style performance simply because of the time limit and the resources that I have available to me. The hardest part of getting this project started is deciding which Broadway musical song I want to take on. There are a lot of things that I need to account for in choosing exactly which musical I want my project to be based around. I have to think about the number of cast at my disposal and also my costume and set capabilities. I want the costumes to be completely left up to the cast and I would like to choose a number that doesn’t require much of a set or has no set at all. Something that isn’t very complex would be ideal. In the beginning I had no preference for what genre of song it might be but at this point I have decided that a comical approach is always the best approach. The next hardest part of planning out a musical number is finding a certain clip that will make enough sense for viewers to understand when it’s being performed separate from the remainder of the musical.

For this year's genius hour I have decided to focus on directing/producing a successful musical number. By definition a musical number is “an individual song, dance, or instrumental piece which is part of a larger work of musical theater, opera, or oratorio.” At this current moment I am not entirely sure what musical this number is going to come from. I just sent out a mass email to our entire high school and am currently awaiting the long process of people signing up to take part in this epic event. This is important to me because our school system is seriously lacking in the fine arts department. I have always enjoyed musical theater and I really wish that Thrall had some sort of theater program whether within the school system or just the community. This is also a great opportunity for anyone else interested in musical theater and everything related to it. My goals for this project is to inform myself and others about what a huge process bringing a musical number to life is and maybe even instill the same passion I have in others. I will measure my goals by bi-weekly blog posts as well as progress on the number itself. In these blog posts I will include videos from different rehearsals as well as the cast list and other updates from cast members. I am very excited to get started on this project and my hope is that it will be a huge success.

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