‘Some Like It Scorching’ Director-Choreographer on the Musical’s “Mathematical” and “Dangerous” Chase Sequence
In Broadway’s Some Like It Scorching, primarily based on the 1959 movie starring Marilyn Monroe, there’s a chase sequence that sees the musical’s primary trio Joe (Christian Borle), Daphne (J. Harrison Ghee) and Gertrude (Adrianna Hicks) dodging and dipping round a lodge to evade a bunch of offended mobsters, who’re themselves being chased by the police.
With this contemporary spin on the romantic crime comedy, it’s straightforward to imagine director-choreographer Casey Nicholaw drew from the film’s chase to assist him ship one among Broadway’s most fun faucet sequences. And there was, at one level, a nod to the movie sequence that includes mobster Spats Colombo (performed by Mark Lotito) hiding beneath a room service cart. However the choreographer and director says it was among the many issues nixed because the group nipped and tucked within the quest to attain the precise pacing and size for the quantity. In the end, he didn’t discover a lot massive display affect in in any respect.
“What’s humorous is I didn’t even keep in mind there was a chase in it. Then I’d seen the film once more, and I used to be like, ‘Oh, proper!’ There’s a chase sequence in right here!” Some Like It Scorching’s director and choreographer, Casey Nicholaw, remembers whereas speaking to The Hollywood Reporter. “I believed [book co-writer] Matthew [Lopez] had simply made it up. I used to be like, ‘Matthew, that’s so good — the chase scene!”
The reminiscence earns amusing from Nicholaw, however it’s a considerably stunning revelation contemplating the multi-minute sequence’s close to cinematic really feel. That’s a consequence, the choreographer says, of ranging from a cinematic lens and “as a result of I’m a creature of theater” realizing how one can put it on stage. He would achieve this with the assistance of set designer Scott Pask, a frequent collaborator who labored on the doorways that will turn out to be a part of the musical’s vocabulary.
There was additionally dance and incidental music arranger Glen Kelly, who translated Nicholaw’s ideas a couple of quantity’s really feel, actions and beats. “He wrote the entire thing out, after which I’d simply take heed to it time and again, simply sitting on the ground with my eyes closed and see it,” Nicholaw remembers.
Couched throughout the closing scenes of the musical’s conclusion, it’s an electrifying and exacting show the director — who delivered the routine for every week within the function of Spats when quite a lot of forged members and understudies have been out for a string of performances — describes as extremely “mathematical.”
“It needs to be so, so exact — they’ve acquired to hit spots on the ground and know precisely what rely to hit it on the ground — as a result of they’re shifting doorways they usually can’t see both path the place they’re going,” he explains. “They need to know who’s coming and during which path the door goes. And the backstage journey — it’s simply as busy backstage as it’s from watching it from the viewers, if no more.”
“I ended up occurring for every week. It was tremendous loopy to face again there — not stand, however run. I used to be operating a lot. I used to be like, OK, now I perceive what you guys are going by way of,” he continued, laughing.
One other factor he calls the sequence: dangerous.
“If you’re attending to the tip of the present, to abruptly go into dance vocabulary for 5 minutes, it’s dangerous as a result of the viewers, they’re taking a look at their watches. They’re eager to get out of there and unexpectedly you’re anticipating them to decide to a giant dance quantity,” he says. “Are individuals going to need to sit nonetheless to look at one thing like that? To look at us tie up all of the ends of a two-hour present in a dance sequence?”
A part of what makes it so thrilling is the sophisticated nature of the dwell sequence, which may have its total power disrupted with one fallacious transfer. The faucet-driven quantity options round 25 precept and ensemble forged members scrambling, whirling and flying up and down stairs, round shifting lodge props, and out and in of quite a lot of shifting doorways.
“It’s simply the chaos of doorways shifting on a regular basis and ending with all of the doorways shifting in all places at one time,” he continued concerning the power of the present’s closing dance sequence. “What do we now have to place to verify the doorways keep as a result of we are able to’t put brakes on them? We’ve to verify they will maintain shifting, however we additionally don’t need them rolling misplaced once they land.”
It’s a giddy quantity that manages to search out the right steadiness between stress and comedy. It additionally manages to not overstay its welcome, one thing the choreographer says he needed to work out by way of each the lab and within the downtime offered by Broadway’s pandemic shutdown.
“That is the head. That is every thing touchdown on this second, so there nonetheless needs to be hazard with the blokes in addition to the buoyancy of a musical,” Nicholaw explains. “I actually took time with the entire thing, to verify all the small print have been finished. I wished to inform the story. We needed to do it at such a sluggish tempo to begin, too, to verify nobody acquired harm.”
The sequence’s accomplished iteration, which performs out each evening for Broadway audiences, in the end advanced because the present moved first by way of that lab. When the group initially began, the script provided only a style of the sequences’ potential, with Nicholaw saying Lopez had described the scene as “a giant wild chase ensues” with individuals who “pop outside and folks return in doorways and somebody is available in with a towel and somebody goes out.” Throughout pre-production, there additionally weren’t any doorways, which means Nicholaw needed to do extra on the spot.
However when the pandemic hit, the out-of-town run was canceled, giving the group “numerous time when you may ruminate and issues started to alter and gel.”
“After we did it within the lab, there wasn’t any faucet in it. It was only a common chase — nonetheless with the doorways and every thing,” he remembers. “And I began considering, how enjoyable would that be? It’s one thing I’ve by no means seen earlier than. Minimize to getting along with the forged to do a second lab and everybody going, ‘Holy shit, we’re tapping the entire thing?’”
In that point, the Some Like It Scorching director turned Lopez’s idea into what he calls “a giant lengthy dance” impressed partially by an earlier faucet sequence within the present. That quantity sits on the prime of the primary act and is carried out by Joe and Jerry (who later goes by Daphne), a brotherly music and dance duo who discover themselves dressing as girls to hitch an all-female band in an try to keep away from being killed by a mobster after they turn out to be witnesses to successful.
“I choreographed that first quantity after which unexpectedly, we began including extra faucet to the opposite numbers and it turned the vocabulary of the present. I believed, effectively, why not have this be a faucet quantity, too?” the Some Like It Scorching director remembers, noting that he additionally added an earlier “minute-long” chase in act one, “so [the door sequence] didn’t really feel prefer it was so out of the blue, prefer it was so far-fetched.”
Lots of the moments within the sequence do in the end really feel, a minimum of comedically, surprising if not completely unrealistic. There’s additionally so much on stage moment-to-moment, one thing that might overwhelm an viewers so late within the present. However Nicholaw says the dance’s choreography was designed to attract the viewers’s eyes.
“If somebody’s standing on quantity 4, versus on six, generally that makes an enormous distinction in whether or not your eye goes to them or doesn’t go to them,” he stated. “The lights assist, too. I don’t suppose individuals are conscious of how a lot as a result of it by no means appears like we’re shining a highlight on them, however a bit bit of sunshine occurs to be on that individual as a result of we all know we wish you to see them.”
The trick then is executing it with out all of it trying intentional. “It appears like an accident, however you might be imagined to go there [with your eye],” he explains. “My favourite factor to do is have an viewers go, ‘Oh god, did you see that?’ As if everybody wasn’t imagined to see it. that they really feel like they’re the one one which caught that little factor, however it’s intentional that you just catch that little factor.”
However in that — apart from ensuring individuals don’t slide of their faucet footwear — lies one of many greatest challenges of the sequence. Nicholaw says every evening, everybody not solely has to have sufficient time to get to their locations, however there needs to be sufficient individuals to maneuver the doorways. With a number of members of the corporate quickly out at varied factors within the musical’s run, the choreographer stated lowering the monitor emerges as the most important problem.
“We’ve acquired to get different individuals concerned and making an attempt to determine how one can do all of it,” he provides, “as a result of it’s utilizing each single member of the forged and that quantity.”