Author Topic: MUSICALS: Giving lines for a music in a musical....  (Read 4548 times)

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Keviken03

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MUSICALS: Giving lines for a music in a musical....
« on: Dec 22, 2007, 01:30 am »
I am currentley in rehearsals for Sweeney Todd.  It's getting very frustrating for me because actors do not have their lines down.  I want to be the best I can be and to help them.  They are not calling "line" and just have a confused look on there face or throw a look to me and I give them the line.  That's a problem right there.  

How do you give lines for music?  For a score like sweeney if someone goes up on a line the music keeps going....Do I throw them keywords?  

There have been frustrating situations for me.  Let me explain.  A couple days ago an actor was doing the lines and didnt know them at all.  I kept giving lines.  Well, in a line he kind of stumbled and stopped talking so I gave him the line. (he did not call "line" at all, i just kept giving him line when he was fumbling)  Well, he told me he knew the line and to give him a second and then got nasty with me because I "screwed" him up.  "Well, NOW I need the line because YOU screwed me up."  

Today, the same actor.....was waiting for a music cue (which I did not realize) the other actor had a confused look on his face and so I said the line so HE knew what was happening.  Well, the actor (whose line it was) said "I KNOW, I'm waiting for a music cue"

It also very frustrating because the piano in the small rehearsal room is so loud when people are singing they cant hear me give the line.  I have tried speaking up.  

I know I am rambling on and on.  Im just frustrated because I'm feeling like Im doing something wrong.  What can I do to help make this "line" situation better?  

PLEASE help!=)

Thanks
(I hope I made some sense.  sorry my grammar in this post may not be the best)
« Last Edit: Jun 09, 2009, 01:34 am by PSMKay »

sievep

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Re: Giving lines for a music in a musical....
« Reply #1 on: Dec 22, 2007, 01:40 am »
Well, I think a little sit down with your cast is in order, and you'll want to include your conductor/musical director on this one. 

Maybe it's because I come from an opera background, but if they are missing lines of dialogue I would expect you should be able to help them, if they are missing sung lines the Musical Director/Conductor should be cueing them.

At least that's how I'd do it . . .
"This lovely light, it lights not me" - Orson Welles

KMC

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Re: Giving lines for a music in a musical....
« Reply #2 on: Dec 22, 2007, 01:42 am »
This can be a tough situation, I know I experienced similar situations earlier in my SM experience.  As an SM you're so eager to be right on top of everything, the same goes for giving lines.  I actually had some similar experiences - in high school I interned at a professional regional theatre and one of my jobs as the SM Intern was to be on book.  I gave lines a few times when folks did not call for it, sometimes they needed it, sometimes they were acting.  It can be tough to tell.

In my experience it's good to keep consistent.  Don't give a line unless they say "line".  It's good to have a very clear, distinct line drawn that no lines will be given unless it's called for.  This tells your actors that they need to call for it, and also prevents you from interrupting if they are "acting".  I've found this to work well.

In musicals if I've had someone call line in the middle of a song I would do a speak-sing along with the music until they get back on track - once they're on track, you can back off.

My two cents, hope it helps!
Get action. Do things; be sane; don’t fritter away your time; create, act, take a place wherever you are and be somebody; get action. -T. Roosevelt

Keviken03

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Re: Giving lines for a music in a musical....
« Reply #3 on: Dec 22, 2007, 09:35 am »
This has definitely helped.  We will be on break for Christmas after today. They were to be told to be off book by the time we get back.  I will of course still be following along as best as I can.  I think I will speak to the music director to shoot out lines in the songs (good idea) and then let them know I will not give any lines unless they ask for line.

It's just been very frustrating.  Especially with the SWEENEY score and so many words.

Thanks so much.  Any other suggestions will definitely be appreciated=)

PSMAK

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Re: Giving lines for a music in a musical....
« Reply #4 on: Dec 22, 2007, 11:15 am »
You should definately talk to you Director/Music Director and ask them when they don't want actors calling for line any more. This is of course important, because when they are on stage in a performance, they have to get themselves out of a jam with lines. In IMHO.

J

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Re: Giving lines for a music in a musical....
« Reply #5 on: Dec 22, 2007, 11:28 am »
There is an art to being on book, and don't worry, you'll get there! It just takes time. At this point, I'd definitely endorse what's already been said.  Only give line when the actor calls line. As far as lines during the music, you can speak/sing, but it's more appropriate in my experience for the music director/conductor to deal with this. The words/sounds in that part of the show are their domain.

A couple suggestions for calling line that may help you out.  Since you're going to be having your face buried in the book listening for that key word, "LINE", take a pencil and a ruler and underline or highlight any word in the script that IS or SOUNDS like line, so that it doesn't throw you off when you hear the word spoken onstage.

Since your actors are supposed to be off book when they return from the holidays, this is the perfect time to have a discussion with them.  Tell them not to worry, that you'll be sitting on book for them as they work off book for the first time, but it will be imperative that if they need a line to call LINE.  Its up to the director if he is ok with the actors searching and stumbling for lines or if he'd prefer them to call line so that the scene pace and flow can continue.  (Most directors prefer the latter).

There is definitely an art to being able to recognize when actors are off-track before they call line.  You'll master it. It just takes practice and patient actors.  It's usually about body language.  If they're glancing out to you or if they stop mid-sentence, chances are they need the line.  If they continue with the stage business, give it a second, don't jump in.  

You mentioned that a couple times they've snapped and said that they were waiting for something or "acting".  When you learn this information from them after mistakenly calling line, jot a note of it or circle the text in your script. Next time you come upon that dialogue, you will know not to give them the line so quickly.  That's what I do.   For the time being, and especially with this cast, I'd stick to only giving line when they call the magic words.

It seems that with your particular actor, you've got a bit of a conflict on hand anyway. I'd recommend pulling him aside and being clear with him that his attitude toward you when you are on book is unacceptable.  Be very clear about this, while staying professional, and you'll get your message across.

If actors don't know lines at all and you just keep feeding and feeding, a director really should step in and ask the actor to pick up their script.  A seasoned actor knows this themselves and will usually go for their scripts if they're stumbling too much.

One other thing, since the music director is on the same position level as the stage director, I'd be careful about just telling him to call out the lines in the song. Rather, I'd suggest that it may be better for the actors, as they're having trouble focusing on [me] during the music sequences and that it may be more efficient if he/she was the person leading them through the text.  He/she may have issues with this if the score is difficult (which it is for that show), so it may end up being you. On those parts of the show, move yourself and get in close to the stage, so that you can really bellow out the lines.  I'd talk with the cast about how you will be feeding lines during the music, because chances are you won't need to wait to hear "line" called.

I've been in your shoes. Follow the standard calling "line" for lines, and all should smooth away.  

J

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Re: Giving lines for a music in a musical....
« Reply #6 on: Dec 22, 2007, 11:30 am »
I've always been on book until Tech rehearsals, unless the director specifically told the actors that they couldn't call line prior to that.  I've found it common that in larger organizations there is no set date for being off book or for not calling line.

2B

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Re: Giving lines for a music in a musical....
« Reply #7 on: Dec 27, 2007, 12:23 am »
Definately touch base with your MD on this one and get some consistency going within the room.

My experience in musical theatre is that if it is "lyrics" they are forgetting then they would be prompted by the MD and I would prompt dialogue only. I would expect a cast member to call for a line and I would not try and second guess whether they will say it or not. Getting your cast to call "line" is a great start, especially when you are not familiar with their styles of working, and I personally would never, ever tolerate a cast member "clicking their fingers" at me to get a line (just in case this ever arises - a personal pet peeve of mine which I never let a cast member get away with more than once! ;) )

The balancing act as you may be noticing comes when the dialogue needs to be timed to music! In this situation I would rely mostly on the MD but make sure that I knew what those musical cues were and at what pace the dialogue needs to be to fit the underscore. This may also assist you when it comes to calling cues. I've not seen the score to Sweeney Todd but most of the time you will find those dialogue notes written in (and the dialogue cues for music to start) otherwise remember to make make notes in your book when it comes up in the room...

You also sound sensible enough not to get into petty debates with cast as to whether they needed prompting or not. Good move.

Most of all, have fun! Sweeny Todd is a great show and working in musical theatre is not such a bad way to pass the time!

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