Saturday, February 14, 2009

Cheryl Stern on developing and starring in a new musical

So we start rehearsals in a little more than a week and there are so many feelings reeling around in my brain it’s hard to begin to let you all in there. But I will do my best. We are creating a brand new musical that takes a contemporary woman in crisis and thrusts her into a wild fantasy ride via the movies of Audrey Hepburn in order to discover her own strength and identity. YIKES!!! It’s the biggest challenge of my life as a writer and I know it will be the biggest challenge of my life as an actress.

We have an amazing team creating this piece and we have been working like demons to carve out this unique story without killing each other in the process. “Art Isn’t Easy!!” But we love each other madly and “You gotta break some eggs to make an omelet”. Am I full of cliché quotes or what?

Anyway, we just did a reading last night of our most recent draft with a group of lovely and game actors who donated their time to help us see what we have and where we need to go together. It is always harrowing to hear your work read and with the double duty I have been given on this journey, I am acting the role and listening to the whole text at the same time. Not an easy task but also a gift. I am sitting in the unique position on this one and it presents opportunities and challenges daily.

As additional book writer and lyricist, my job has been to assist in the dialogue and storytelling with Jim Hindman and to shape lyrics with Ellen Weiss on a number of the songs. I am often a liaison between the two writers and find myself bouncing back and forth in phone conversations and writing sessions during the course of any given day. I am broker, sounding board, big picture person and clarity police; Sybil meets Henry Kissenger.

Now, on to the acting part. The role of Claire is the kind of role that middle aged short Jewish girls can only dream of having. And it’s mine!! This is a true gift. To be able to contribute to the creation of a role that is made in heaven for you is just the dreamiest and though it presents it’s own set of pressures, anxieties and responsibilities, it is the coolest thing ever and I am beside myself about getting started.

We have a creative team that is just stupendous and we are assembling a cast that I know is going to be genius. I am thrilled to be playing opposite the brilliant Brian Sutherland and my dear old buddy Steven Berger is joining the cast as well. He is the funniest human alive and I cannot wait to share the stage with him once again. We have Blair Ross as the Kay Thompson character. She IS Kay!!! So excited. Also onboard is super talent Mark Ledbetter. Today we go into auditions to find the rest of our cast.

It is going to be the ride of a lifetime and I cannot wait to begin it. I am so grateful to Jack and Transport Group for continuing to give me the richest and most rewarding opportunities as actor and writer. Will keep ya posted.

UP NEXT: Jack Cummings III discusses casting.

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