Years ago, I visited the set of The Addams Family, the 1991 movie version of Charles Addams’ amusingly macabre characters from The New Yorker. It was the first day of shooting. Veterans abounded in the cast – Raul Julia, Angelica Huston, Dana Ivey, Judith Malina, Elizabeth Wilson – but only one actor gave absolutely no hint of jitters: 10-year-old Christina Ricci, who played Wednesday Addams.
I thought of Ricci this week at the sitzprobe for Flying Over Sunset, held in LCT’s large rehearsal room. The actors were about to sing with the full orchestra for the first time. For some of them, this encounter can be daunting: how will my voice measure up against strings and violins and percussion as opposed to the solo piano used up till now? As she approached the microphone for her first number, Carmen Cusack, who plays the lead female role of Clare Boothe Luce, admitted, “I’m a little nervous getting started.”
Not Atticus Ware, the child actor who portrays the young Archie Leach. I had asked him before the proceedings started, “Are you nervous?” “Nah,” he responded. This wasn’t false bravado. As he went through his numbers with Cusack and Robert Sella and Harry Hadden-Paton and Tony Yazbeck, Ware was preternaturally composed. Like his namesake, Atticus Finch of To Kill a Mockingbird, Ware is calm under pressure.
As were, in short order, all the Flying Over Sunset cast members, regardless of age. A sitzprobe is an opportunity to observe not only singers but musicians as well as the music director, who must constantly adjust the melding of instrumentalists with actors. It was fascinating to watch the sensitive and expert Kimberly Grigsby, the music director here, run the rehearsal. Equally of interest: the very helpful interventions of Michael Starobin, who has done the beautiful orchestrations.
Brendan Lemon is the editor of lemonwade.com