Faith, Focus, and Flexibility

Working on an original musical is a test of one’s ability to have faith, stay focused, and be flexible. Normally when working on a musical, you get the script and music, have music rehearsals, block the show, learn the choreography, rehearse, and put it all together. For the most part, it’s a very linear process.

With an original musical, linear is definitely NOT the word I would use to describe the process. At the very first rehearsal with the teens I said, “Rule #1 in working on a PFO original musical…don’t get attached. Rule #2…be flexible”.

When we first started rehearsing, we didn’t have the full script or all of the songs. We knew what the show was about…how our insecurities manifest in our behaviors and impact our relationships. We knew the structure …5 protagonists whose stories we follow, with 15 chorus members serving in a variety of roles. We knew the makeup of the pit band we wanted…keys, drums, bass, guitar. We knew what the stage design would be…one large platform build out “thrust” style (audience on 3 sides) with two really tall 8’ square platforms on either side, with a “backdrop meets art installation” made up of 70 open frames in a variety of sizes. Beyond that, a lot was being created as we dove into rehearsals.

The show is divided into 3 parts. In part 1, we learn who each of the 5 protagonists is and see the first glimpse of their behavior. In part 2, we learn where that behavior came from .In part 3, we see the impact on themselves and their relationships. When we started, we had a strong Part 1, most of the script of Part 2 minus the completion of several songs, and nothing of Part 3. Talk about holding the faith!  

With our playwright and composer in New York City, we were having regular daily check-ins. We monitored where he was on the writing and where we were with the teens’ grasp of the material, their skill level related to singing complicated harmonies in the show, and overall how the story was shaping together. We were making daily changes, adding scenes, cutting songs, trimming text, etc. Flexibility was a muscle we were exercising on the daily.

It’s exciting, creative, collaborative, scary, and stressful all at the same time. Everyone has to be completely on board with the process, 100% committed, and super focused. There are in the moment discoveries, in the moment cuts, and in the moment frustrations that ultimately turn into celebrations. It’s exhilarating and exhausting.

At this point in the process, we have a show, albeit one that will continue to morph and grow and change. I guarantee that by the time we get to opening night, the audience will get to experience something truly magical, and what I hope will be life-changing. All we’ve got to do now is have faith…be flexible…and stay focused. See you at the show!

Jen Band, PFO Founder & Executive Director

March 14th 7pm

March 15th 7pm

March 16th 2pm*

March 16th 7pm

* Special Pay What You Can show and student special.