Directed by Jill Charles
Dorset Theatre Festival
Stage Manager: Kate Broderick
Scenic Design: William John Aupperlee
Lighting Design: John Henderson
Costume Design: Lynda Salisbury
Sound Design: Andrew Meyer
Musical Arrangements: Jeffrey Bernstein
Musical Director: Denise Puricelli
Betty K. Bynum (Rose)
T. Ryder Smith (Stone)
Ken Crutchfield (Drums)
Quintin Franklin (Bass)
Craig Rivers (Saxophone)
Denise Puricelli (Piano)
Kenny Kamlet (Announcer’s Voice)
Play which takes place in real time over the course of 2 sets at a NYC jazz club in the early 1940s.
David, a piano player, arrives at a nightclub as a last-minute substitute in a jazz combo. To their mutual surprise, David is white, and European, and the band, and it's singer, Rose, are black. Their social awkwardness is tinged with racial tension, but David plays well enough for the first set to proceed. During the course of the break between sets, Rose and David talk, and reveal more of themselves to the other - Rose the victim of widespread racism and David in flight from persecution in Nazi Germany - and the second set's songs are played and sung with a deeper feeling, and mutual respect.
How do you have a character play live piano throughout a piece, together with a real onstage band, when the actor does not play at all? Here'e how we did it: the piano was angled just enough away from the audience that they could see my hands move, but not the keys. The soundboard was immobilized so I could "play" all I wanted, and not make a sound. Denise, the actual piano player, was directly upstage of me, behind the wall of the set. Although painted to match the set pieces adjoining it, the wall was canvas to allow the full sound of the piano through. A framed "photo" on the wall behind me was actually painted mesh, which allowed Denise to look up into a long mirror hidden along the back of the set's fake heating pipes, which was angled down to the keyboard. She could therefore exactly coordinate with my hands beginning and ending the pieces, or doing various "riffs". The illusion for the audience was completely effective, (so much so that we were always a little embarrassed to reveal it at the curtain call). But it did not mar the fact that Denise, and the band, along with Betty's singing, were fantastic.
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