Sunday, April 23, 2006

Consider Yourself

Watch the video
This is from a 1981 production of "Oliver!" in which my son Paul played Oliver and his friend Kag was The Artful Dodger.

This was the first show for the choreographer and somehow she figured that "choreography" meant that every word or phrase had a movement with it. I suspect that she created an incredible amount of unnecessary work for herself. As I watch the video, I see that in some places, it's just plain crazy all the movements she had those little kids doing--but amazingly, they actually do a credible job of it. I remember the long hours of painstaking rehearsal for these little kids, age 5-12 learning dozens of intricate movements. This woman never subscribed to the "less is more" philosophy!

There were 20 orphans and the opening number ("Food, Glorious Food") is so busy you can hardly concentrate on it. Up, down, hand up, hands down, mime the words, jump up, turn around, march in place. It's overkill to the 'nth degree.

The video that I've posted for today came out of that insane choreography and makes me giggle whenever I see it.

It's "Consider Yourself," the song sung by Oliver and the Artful Dodger, when they first meet. (Note the unnecessary choreography down to each raising a foot as they sing "...foot the bill..." The set was wonderful (Walt built it) and contained a bridge connected by two long staircases which curved down to the stage. The choreographer had Paul and his friend Kag singing and running up and down those steps. Great training if you're going to be an Olympic sprinter!

But the thing that tickles me about this video is that it happened to be taken the day that the two kids cracked up. As Kag introduces himself, he did something he hadn't done before. He says "I'm...the Artful Dodger," and as he says that, he taps the top of his hat. For some reason this made Paul giggle and then the two of them started giggling. They finished the long song, but trying desperately to stop laughing the whole time.

At one point, they have walked/danced/run to the top of the stairs and at the top of the stairs was an "old woman" (actually a young-ish woman, mother to one of their friends, who was quite friendly with the kids). She caught the giggles from the two of them.

I remember sitting in the audience that night just praying for them to finish the damn song and get off stage. But looking at it this many years later, it's really fun to watch.

1 comment:

missbhavens said...

That's a terrific set for a kid's production, but OY the movement! The never ending movement! I'm amazed these kids weren't out of breath the whole time!

My favorite over-the-top-choreography moment:

"...part of the furniture" + one-legged-sitting-in-a-chair-manouver.