This week at NDW we continued our preliminary work on Flower Power! Will taught “The Hippie Generation” and reviewed the title song, Lisa choreographed “Flower Power” and we started doing some character work with folks.
At the end of rehearsal, we actually had our actors perform “Flower Power” – doing the dance while singing along with Will on the piano. What a great start – our opening number is sure to be great since we’ve already accomplished so much with it!
While we ushered kids between Will, Lisa, and costumes, I worked with several of our actors on character work. Here, actors have to explain who their characters are (rather than what their characters do). This can be tricky as it’s not always obvious, and actors are still getting used to the script. Towards the end of rehearsal, I took character work to the next level and played a bunch of 60s music (courtesy of my smart phone and YouTube) to get them used to the music of the decade. It was nice to see so many of our kids grooving along – and in many cases, already knowing the music.
One of the reasons we start rehearsals with song and dance (and not blocking) is that these tend to be the things that need to be practiced most. You start with the songs. Once you learn each song, it’s much easier to learn the lyrics and once you have the lyrics, it’s much easier to learn the choreography.
This week, at my school, we have our performance of a musical called “Learning to Learn” which is all about the fact that you can learn how to do anything – as long as you practice. There’s a great scene where some knights are explaining to our main characters that you have to do the work and repeat it and then it will become easier. The song they sing has these lyrics:
Focus, just concentrate
Practice, and you’ll be great
Repeat until you’re in the groove
That’s how you improve.
This may seem obvious, but we find that a lot of our actors don’t practice and repeat what they learn on Saturdays. It’s really hard to commit a musical to memory, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. Ten to twenty minutes every night (yes, on top of all that homework) is all that’s required. Sing through what’s been learned with Will. Then practice choreography given by Lisa. Then, if you feel comfortable with both, try putting them together. As the weeks go on, you’ll be able to practice the older songs more easily (and quicker) and can then focus on newer songs and try to commit those to memory.
For example, if I were in the play, last week I would have sung “Flower Power” over and over. This week, I could just review it and then go over the choreography for it and then put the two together. Once I felt good about that and tried that a couple of times, I could move on to singing “The Hippie Generation.” Next week, I’d do the same, but add to it whatever else I learned from Will and Lisa (and eventually add in blocking to this routine of course). “Flower Power” would be easy to review because I’ve already practiced it so many times, so instead of practicing just the singing and then just the dancing, I’d start off by singing and dancing to “Flower Power” – it would be reviewed nice and quick since I already know it.
Now, of course, you may forget some things between rehearsal and practice time at home. If it’s the music, hopefully you’ll have access to the songs and can listen to them. The following week you can always ask Will or Lisa to review what you’ve forgotten or are unsure about. And, let’s not forget – you can ask your friends! Why wait until Saturday when you can ask another NDW actor who you go to school with – maybe s/he remembers what you don’t, and in turn, maybe you can help him or her remember something else!
So – practice makes perfect. Keep that in mind. The sooner you get into a routine the easier it will be to learn everything and to eventually be off book.
Now, I promised that I’d share different 1960s music at the end of each blog. This week I’m sharing two videos with you. The Monkees are my favorite group of all time. Based on the idea of The Beatles, they were a family friendly version of rock ‘n’ roll that was formatted as a half hour television series. The actors played characters with the their own names and eventually went on tour together as The Monkees (they are still touring today, in fact). Some say they weren’t a real band and I say that’s up for debate. Either way, they were a huge part of pop culture, whether you consider them just for their television show, or for that and for their music. Here is their first single and hit – “Last Train to Clarksville.” I love this video – it’s so silly and very Monkees. Also, did you know that this is a protest song? And the other video I want to share is “Daydream Believer.” This is a classic, but I’m sharing it because they all get rather silly towards the end, making this another typical Monkees moment. I also enjoy watching Mickey play the tambourine. If you watch closely, you’ll see that he misses it at a certain point. By the way – both of these songs went to #1 on the Billboard Chart. Enjoy!