NYFOS@North Fork 2023: Day 6

Written by Steven Blier

Artistic Director, NYFOS

In category: Blier's Blog

Published August 27, 2023

Today was dress rehearsal—and out here that means actually getting into full concert regalia. That’s because Husband Jim comes to take pictures of the show the day before the performance. That way, no one has to disturb the crowd by skulking around the hall during the show.
Getting into a suit and tie in Orient is almost a ceremonial experience after a summer of Lululemons and short-sleeved shirts. Much as I’d like to, I won’t dwell on the details of my concert attire except to say that I wore a brand-new suit, and that I brought two ties from home to choose from. There was a fair amount of drama about the ties, with various housemates as well as my Spanish teacher Dorothy Potter Snyder weighing in on which one I should wear. Appropriately enough, the vote itself was a tie. I ultimately followed the dictates of my heart.  
I am not the best judge of how the performance went—it certainly seemed very good. One good sign: at the end of every song I thought to myself, wow, that is a terrific number. And I knew that the program, which had bedeviled me in the planning stages, turned out right: a good length and filled with stunning music. A parade of genius songwriting—like “Wait Till You See Her,” by Rodgers and Hart, a delicate love song with surprising turns of harmony. Or—my favorite—the witty, opulent “Lost and Found” from City of Angels, music by Cy Coleman and lyrics by David Zippel. It sends me every time—check it out on YouTube if you want a treat. Tell ‘em Steve sent you. 
We had a couple of listeners today besides Jim—Dinah Seiver, our producer who has responded to every request with amazing speed and generosity, and her 11-year old granddaughter Lily, for whom even the most standard pieces were brand-new. I worried that some of the more sophisticated material, not to mention some of the more R-rated material, might baffle her or make her uncomfortable. Far from it. She was patient with the love songs, but she was riveted by “You Must Meet My Wife,” from A Little Night Music by Sondheim. She laughed at the jokes and applauded at the end. Dinah told me afterwards, “Yes, but I’m worried that she’s going to ask me at dinner, ‘What’s a virgin?’” Shavon stepped in. “She’s eleven? She’s been living in Paris? She knows what a virgin is. Don’t worry.” 
The cast was in great form. And me? Well, I started out pretty well. I was fighting to stay on-task and mostly succeeding. At dress rehearsal, it’s always the phrases that were never a problem (like a chord progression in a transposition that had been coming out perfectly) that all of a sudden go awry.  After a half-century of trying to make the piano keyboard cough up the sounds I have in my imagination, I really think the instrument owes me something better than that. 
And then I had a lapse of judgment. We got to the end of Act I and I said, “Should we take a break? Or do you guys want to just motor on?” The cast was in the mood to forge ahead and get done sooner. Sophia offered, “But we can take a pause if you want.” Quiet nods all around. Still, I sensed they didn’t want to hang around any longer than necessary. Against my better judgment, I said, “Hey, I’m OK—at the moment, anyway—so I guess we can keep going…” 
A mistake. Too late, I realized I desperately needed some time for a cup of tea, a moment to recharge my batteries. As a result, the second half went great for them, less well for me—or anyway, it felt rough. More precisely, I felt rough, operating in “Get Me to the Double Bar” mode. I had fallen into classic People-Pleaser behavior, something I have largely expunged from my repertoire. And I paid the price for it. 
Lesson learned. “You’re gonna love tomorrow, you stick around, you’ll see,” wrote Stephen Sondheim. I’m going with that.  

Get your tickets to 100 Years of Broadway Love here! Sun, Aug 27 at 3pm, Poquatuck Hall in Orient, NY.

author: Steven Blier

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Called “the coolest dude in town” by Opera News, master collaborative pianist and coach Steven Blier is the co-founder and artistic director of New York Festival of Song. Here on No Song is Safe From Us, Steven blogs about the NYFOS Emerging Artist residencies, writes the engaging and erudite program notes for our Mainstage concerts, and contributes frequently to Song of the Day.


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