It took almost two hours of rehearsal to get the three dance numbers in the first half of the set to the point that Josie, Linn, Mickey, and Ziggy were all satisfied with what they had. I discovered that when I needed to enforce a rest on my hand, the rest of the band and the dancers could carry on just fine while I stood there like dead weight–or acted like a bandleader. Me not playing on half the run-throughs actually gave me the chance to hear how the parts were meshing on the big stage.
They had rearranged the stage so the band was no longer on two separate islands separated by a sea of dancers. Thankfully. Now we were on a multi-riser section at stage right with each part of the band on their own tier, and a matching set of step risers at stage left was inhabited by the dancers at various points in their choreography.
After two hours of mostly non-stop dancing they needed a break and we needed to move on to working on other things. Oh, and lunch. Everyone needed lunch. I stuffed some calories into my face. I could pretend that I remember what (pizza? sub? leftover donuts?) but I really don’t since it was someone else’s job to think about it.
It was my job to think about the final quarter of the show and encore. I got the band together. We’d have to rehearse on the stage now, but I wanted to talk to everyone in a smaller space. So we gathered in the upper level sound room. It was starting to become second nature to do the roll call check in my head. I’d split the band in my mind into four pairs because four pairs of people was easier to remember than eight separate people. (Right?) Bart & Christian, Bradley & Marvelle, Fran & Clarice, Mitch & Lorne. I guess technically it was five pairs if you counted me and Ziggy, but I didn’t ever forget us.
Yep, there was those two, and two, and two… and Fran and Clarice came up from the ladies room and that was everyone.
I started by saying, “In a week we’re going to be live on stage in Venezuela.”
Christian gave a faux hysterical laugh.
“We’re going to spend the next couple hours working on the final segment of the show. And when we’re done with that, I’m going to put my head together with Mickey about whether we are going to cut anything or not. Obviously the two dance numbers have to stay, but…” I waved myself to silence. “Maybe we won’t have to. Maybe we’ll get through it all.”
I was conscious once again of the fact that the rest of them were way ahead of me because they’d already practiced their parts for six weeks while I was on the road and dealing with injuries. And I was the only one rewriting my part as we went along so I could play with a pick instead of fingerstyle. I was the main thing making us move so damn slow.
Just keep grinding, I told myself.
As the band was getting tuned up, though, I made a stop at the restroom to dose up and also use the facilities. Bart came in as I was washing my hands.
“I should tell you one thing,” he said. “Even though I know you’re already putting as much pressure on yourself as you can.”
“What is it?”
“Christian’s about to have a nervous breakdown over the fact that we haven’t rehearsed a single minute of the Star*Gaze set.” His eyes were solemn. “I think you remember what happened the last time Christian felt like we were springing too many surprises on him.”
Shit. “Yeah, I remember.”
“He trusts you. He doesn’t doubt you. But he doubts himself.”
But he should doubt me, I thought. Because I literally don’t know if I can physically do this.
But I was the only one who could make that call. And I hadn’t. Yet.
And it suddenly occurred to me that I could. I could solve a huge piece of the puzzle in one quick second by giving up a huge thing. A massive thing. A thing I didn’t want to give up any more than I wanted to give up the acoustic set with Ziggy. I’d worked so hard to get all these opportunities to line up and it was killing me that I might just waste them because my hand hurt. That just did not compute.
I blinked. I was still standing in the men’s room with Bart in front of me. “Sorry. I started thinking about something.”
“Obviously.” He looked worried. “Care to share?”
Bart and I had never been physically affectionate with each other. If he had been Ziggy, I would have grabbed his hand or something at this point, something to make us connected before I’d say the words firming up in my mouth. But I’d never needed to make sure Bart and I were on the same planet before.
Me. I’m the one on Planet F. I took a deep breath and pressed my hands together. “There’s a sucky and yet obvious solution staring me in the face.”
“I’m all ears.”
I don’t know if I was hoping he’d agree or vehemently argue against the idea. “Give up the opening slot. Hire some other band to do it. Someone ready right out of the gate. There must be a million bands who’d jump at the chance.”
Bart held his deadpan for a couple of seconds, during which I held my breath. Then he said, thank goodness, “You’re right. That is a sucky idea.”
“You see the logic in it, though.”
He nodded. “But just because it’s logical doesn’t mean we should do it. Let’s have an honest to God rehearsal tonight, the three of us, and then talk to Carynne about where we should go from there.”
That sounded sensible because it was sensible. “Yeah.” After all, if it was obvious after tonight that there was no way Star*Gaze was going to fly this time around, then the decision would be foregone. And if it wasn’t obvious, then there was hope.