OK. So I’m doing a moment by moment (as things catch my attention) blog for tonight’s dress. This is mostly to give you two kinds of impressions. One from me who has been here for weeks! The other from an imagined audience member, noticing things that make me scratch my head and say, “What’s going on?”

Any contradictions from other notes, just let me know. Any question let me know. Any typos, forgive me ’cause I can type only sooo fast!

Your Dramaturg.


After places there’s the buzz of chatter backstage (and loudish shushing) that will be heard. Ya’ll know this. Since we start in silence it’s just something to keep in mind.

Hold up to the end of your speaking lines. I’m losing a lot of articulation. This is your time to introduce yourselves. If we don’t meet you in this moment, we lose important details for the rest of the show.

Paul that’s a great run over to see Houdini perform!

Some of you are really filling that time after the last silence in the opening number (the men’s fight), especially the group on stage left. Folks on stage right you’re a bit too static too soon. I recall Barbara’s note (but admittedly it’s been from a while back) that you all still see and react to each other. You don’t start addressing the audience fully as “storyteller” until right before you sing “It was the music of something beginning, an era exploding.”

Beautiful Journey On, Ali. You’re really filling that space with longing and setting up the tension for Mother that will animate her journey through the play.

Sam, remember to give “America” a bit more weight when you tell your daughter that America is your home.

Great using the “Whee” to deal with the swing not being there.

Robert, maybe put your hat in your lap as some point when you watch Evelyn in the theater? To echo that one Evelyn, Younger Brother scene from the novel that was cut? If you’re subtle about it it should give a sense of his desire.

Mother do you notice that the little boy is trying to get a glimpse at the baby and maybe shield the sight from him? It might give you something more to incorporate into the worry and concern you have about what you’ve found.

Younger Brother, it’s a nice moment that you stay with Mother while she holds the baby. Are you proud of her? Are you surprised at your sister’s guts?

Loved those chains Houdini!!

Emma would you meet a policeman with such deference? Or defiance?

I’m losing those lines a bit in the fight w/the man who tries to buy the little girl.

Sarah — The emotion is so palpable in Daddy’s Hands. Might it help to think of the final stanza as the time when you forgive yourself and resolve to be a parent?

There’s still a tendency to fling our baby around like the doll he is. Remember babies move.

Father seems to resort to the same hands behind the back gesture quite a bit. Just an observation. If it’s deliberate, make sure it is. If it’s unconscious you might want to think about making a choice.

Sarah, it seems like you might have a few different ways or types of “listening” to be doing during “New Music.” One before mother comes up the stairs after Father returns, one when mother and father start singing, then another when Coalhouse gets up from the piano to start to sing.

Really nice with your son, Coalhouse. Very tender both when you first meet him in the house and in the beginning of “Wheels of a Dream.”

Sarah — when in the reprise of “Wheels” do you get the idea to go to the VP to plead for Coalhouse? We only see your dismay at the wedding being on hold.

Wow. That ending to Act I is just stunning. Heartbreaking. Fully committed and clearly conveyed. Nice.


Love your sweep off the platform, Houdini. Makes you look very mysterious.

Coalhouse Martavius — I can see an earring. Can you not take it out? If not, maybe smudge it w/makeup so it doesn’t catch the light.

Coalhouse — Maybe really notice the gun in your hand as you sing “I’ll play them the music …” this is the new music: gunshots.

Ya look great newsboys!

Michael — you asked about the “misspelled” name. Maybe he’s talking about “Konklin” vs. “Conklin.”

Firemen — what do you think of Booker T. Washington? Make a decision whether you’re disgusted, begrudgingly listening.

Coalhouse’s gang. Ya’ll enter as entirely new people. Notice that about yourself. You’re part of something beginning …

Younger Brother why do you turn back before you leave after your fight with father? If you are going to say something to your sister decide what that is and then decide not to say it.

When does the idea come to you about the baseball game, Father? Maybe change your tone to something more falsely cheerful?

Baseball boys and men –I’m not seeing any of the rude hand gestures. If Jeff told you to cut them fine, but if not, that might give you something to do. The finger, thumb on the nose with wiggling fingers, flicking fingers from under the chin and crossing arms at the elbow. Talk to me if you have questions. It’s easier to demonstrate in person. : )

Great dusting the rabble’s touch off your suit during the ball game Father.

Seems like there’s a traffic jam getting off stage right after Atlantic City.

Mother when you see the movie camera are you intrigued? Is that what helps you extend the “Good Day” that starts off the meeting with the Baron?

Mollie, lovely with the silhouette “simulated movement.”

It’s hard to remember a time before movies, but this is the time. So when the Baron describes his profession, what do you think Family? Little boy are you excited? Father, have you ever seen a movie? Mother?

Baron, there’s probably going to be applause after you Buffalo Nickel song and after the silent movie, so just be prepared.

Houdini, be sure we don’t lose “Sarajevo” when you leave Atlantic City. That’s a key piece of information.

Mother, you’re doing a lot of stuttering body movement when you speak. Be sure to hold yourself with some age. (I know it’s hard when you’re young. : :wry grin::)

Baron, if Mother touches your shoulder to get your attention about the children, do you notice this??

Mollie & Chapin — ya’ll are great. That beach scene is terrific.

If Baron’s going to point out that you say “Well,” Mother then we need to be sure to hear that “Well” right after the “Our Children” number. There’s probably going to be applause, so be sure to wait until that’s died down cause you’re going to have to be heard over that and the underscoring.

That exchange about the money with Younger Brother. I’m confused. Are you asking him to see the limits of what he’ll give? Or are you trying to show him that giving $ isn’t the same as giving of himself? Or is the silver dollar a sign to get him to follow you? Decide on something ’cause right now the scene’s meaning is unclear.

Sarah, especially when you’re down on the stage with Coalhouse, are you the smiling lovely, living Sarah he remembers? This is a different kind of energy than you probably have when you appear to Coalhouse at the library a bit later.

Younger Brother maybe decide a moment in the “He Wanted to Say” to change your leg stance. Maybe take a step forward and if the gang frowns on this, move back. Right now you look frozen. If you decide you want to stay frozen for the song, fine. But I think there’s got to be some kind of physical change with you when you actually say “I know how to blow things up.”

Coalhouse’s gang — your first “He wanted to say” is about what Coalhouse wanted to say, so maybe shift your gaze slight to him. Then the 2nd one is about Younger Brother so shift back to him?

Father, just consider the difference between “appendage” and then “the child.” You use these slightly different words when talking to Mother. Do you make the change because you can see she’s so mad at you? Or is it genuine? It seems important that we see Father capable of some change in this scene in order to think well of him as he negotiates in the next scene for Coalhouse.

Mother, careful with your breathiness in “Back to Before.” It causes you to accent words in a way that it makes it to hard to hear the specific comparison and descriptions you’re making.

Harlem vigil women. Careful to “light” your fake candles or at least treat them as real once they are lit.

Booker T., much clearer in your speech on the platform in the library.

The “Hours passing by” detail seems to catch folks off guard still.

Coalhouse with your (lovely) hat, it’s hard to tell whether you’re looking at Booker T. or Sarah or whether you switch between looking at one then the other. So you might need to make that gaze more deliberate wherever it is directed.

Maybe take that line about “your execution, yours” out away from Younger Brother rather than upstaging yourself to look back at him. You must know you’re betraying the promises you’ve made. So that helps justify why you wouldn’t look at him.

Nice on that balcony Coalhouse. Esp. the plea to the audience about “go out and tell.” You’re talking to your men and to us.

Guys with the guns. I don’t think you’d be looking up at Coalhouse when he sings. You might not be intending to do so, but it’s reading that way from out in the house. You all are probably the most functionary individuals in this scene. There to be menacing until you are activated by Whitman.

Father, you can’t tell him anything about his son because you’ve not bothered to learn anything. So do you even try and Coalhouse, do you realize that he doesn’t know? Or is all this idle chit-chat to get to your real question, “Are they going to kill me?” Again, you all need to make some specific choices together because right now the relationship isn’t reading clearly.

YAY! Tuskegee Institute! I heard it.

Little Boy that last “Warn the Duke” needs to be out to the audience. Remember, you are now a figment of his imagination.

Tateh, be prepared for lots of audience reaction to Coalhouse and the cuteness of all the running around.

YAY!!! The end! 2hours 50mins. Ya’ll are FANTASTIC!