We wrap up summer school with the Dual Languages H.S. today. This is the program where, in order to get a passing History or English grade, twenty-four students spend two weeks at the Paley Center learning about the Vietnam War, and then writing and producing radio dramas about it.
Today we will sit in the Goodson Theatre and listen to six radio plays. Some of them will be great, and some…not so great. But, one thing they will all be is done. Each group of students managed to get something written. They all put characters, a dramatic conflict, a setting and some kind of message on pieces of paper and recorded them, performed sound effects for them, acted in them and chose appropriate music for them. So, as a fellow writer, I commend them. There is definitely something to be said for that. (Listen to a clip below.)
The other day, as I was on the web searching for music for their plays, I came across this clip from the Miss Saigon auditions. Miss Saigon holds a special place in my heart. It was the first Broadway show I saw, and it turns out, the show that made Robby decide he needed to move to New York to pursue a career in musical theatre. And funny, while we both have our reservations about the show itself, there’s something about finding this clip right now that feels very poignant as we head into Helen auditions on Saturday.
I love this clip for a bunch of reasons. First, we see Lea Salonga start her audition off by asking Claude-Michel Schönberg for his autograph. Something about that is just so charming and self-effacing. Then we see Lea sing the wrong notes, and, yet, we still can't help but love her and see why she has to play the role. Finally, as they focus on the producers/director table, we see the magic that happens when you’ve found that performer who can truly bring the character and music to life.
I hope we have lots of these moments on Saturday.
P.S. Check out this clip from the radio play I'm currently editing, called "Purple Heart." Watch out Francis Ford Coppola and Oliver Stone. You guys have nothing on these kids.