by Robin Masella
Our first day here of rehearsal for Jerome Robbins' Broadway at The Muny was incredible! We arrived to the theater this morning. It is in a huge beautiful park, the zoo nearby, botanical gardens down the road. We were greeted by many friendly and excited faces. We all assembled in the rehearsal space, which I can’t say enough good things about. It is an outdoor rehearsal oasis. A huge outdoor platform with big fans overhead to circulate the air. You are surrounded by nature; trees, green grass hills, and chirping birds. What more could you ask for to rehearse in the calm and beauty of nature?
We all assembled for a meet and greet. 49 cast members and an almost equal amount of staff and creatives. The people here are wonderful. You can feel it is a true community and family of people who love the arts and what they do. The Muny's Artistic Director, Mike Issacson, gave a beautiful speech to welcome us all. He said the reason we are all here is because of those who came before us. Those artists who created these incredible shows and the genius himself, Jerome Robbins. Our fearless leader, and Jerome’s associate on Broadway, Cynthia Onrubia reminded us that above all, Robbins wanted you to be an actor. That the actor came first and then the dancer.
I truly believe Jerome Robbins was one of the greatest choreographers of all time. I have always been fascinated with the vastness of his work. Robbins was a master storyteller through dance. West Side Story, for example, begins with a 10-minute ballet. It sets up the entire show for you without a spoken word. Everyone in the audience understands exactly what is about to happen for the next two hours. Then to completely switch gears to Fiddler on the Roof where he dives into the culture and traditions of the people. It is masterful. His work in the ballet world was extraordinary as well. Dances at a Gathering is one of my favorite ballets of all time.
This cast is unbelievable! So much talent! Lots of friends and former co-workers, as well as new faces that I'm very excited to be working alongside. I think it’s such an honor to be entrusted with the material as an ensemble member. We have the privilege of recreating exact choreography from multiple of Jerome Robbins works that were created 30 plus years ago, all in one evening of show. The best of the best.
I am particularly excited to be working with Cynthia Onrubia and Chris Bailey. I have worked with Chris on several projects and he is so smart and talented. Cynthia was Jerome’s assistant for Jerome Robbins' Broadway. We couldn't ask for a better person to learn this material from, someone who was there first hand and really knows the material and the backstories.
It felt wonderful to finally be together as a full company. We had an added few days in NYC this past week where we learned the entirety of West Side Story suites. The cast was initially separated by days and sections and when we finally came together on Sunday, I was immediately in awe and in love with this cast.
Today we spent the day learning On The Town. The boys are leaping and jumping sailors on the prowl, while the girls are sophisticated New York society. Wow, it is fast paced and your brains and bodies have to be ON! I am so in awe of the talent of this cast, one day in and it’s performance ready.
Jerome Robbins' Broadway is my Muny debut! I have always wanted to work at The Muny, it is an iconic regional theater. Not only for the shear size of it, the fact that it’s outdoors, but I have always heard the quality of theater that is produced is exceptional. Two weeks of rehearsal to put up a giant show like this seems almost impossible, but I’m so excited for the challenge. I am very excited that my Muny debut is with this incredible show.
Jerome Robbins’ Broadway opens The Muny’s historic centennial season June 11 - 17. For more information and to purchase tickets, please visit their website.