Sunday, May 26, 2013

Team Gefilte, at the White House

Just to give you an idea of what our life has been like for the last few weeks, when I woke up last Wednesday morning (having returned very late from Washington DC and the Gefilte Fish Chronicles the Musical, command performance at the White House), David was packing his bags. “Where are you going?” I said. “To Australia, this afternoon”, he informed me.  “You’re kidding,“ I said.  “No,” He said.  “We have talked about it and its on every calendar we own.” And off he went. 

in front of the West Wing

A few weeks ago, my friend Steve Rabinowitz called me to find out if we would be interested in performing in the White House, some time in May for Jewish American Heritage Month.  Sure, I thought. It will never happen so it doesn’t hurt to say yes.  Two weeks ago I called him just to say, “I assume we are not going to the White House”.
“Don’t be so sure, I’ll get back to you,” he said.  Sure enough, he called me later in the day and said, “How does the 22nd work for you.” (It was May 7).  “It doesn’t give us much time,” I said.  “OK, I’ll call you right back” Which he did, to tell me that we were on for May 21st.

the Team Gefilte bus, flashing across the NJ Turnpike
During my political career, there were a number of times when putting an event together , last minute, was not uncommon. Of course, then I had staff and money was allocated, and there was an infrastructure. (None of which was the case this time.)  First I had to raise about $16,000. When you have an Equity level cast, it ain’t cheap.  Then there was  transportation, food, per diem, costumes & props, rehearsal space, technical needs, musical instruments, the people who played them, video, printing costs and those unexpected “miscellaneous” expenditures.
a warm up stretch
Most of Team Gefilte were working in other places. It was no easy task to put them back together -- that includes the director, stage manager, and casting director.  Oye, the repeated phone calls.  Of course, we could not forget the public relations, (D.C and NY-- we were in Broadway World and the NYTimes)) programs and materials for prospective investors.  It doesn’t sound like so much, but believe me, it was mind boggling. 

Team Gefilte 
From the time we knew we were going to do this, until we got to the White House, we never had a full cast rehearsal. What was supposed to happen was that we were supposed to have a two hour, full cast rehearsal AT the White House -- which would have happened if the security people had allowed all of us, cast and crew, in at the same time.  The entanglements of Sequestration (the excuse given for anything in government which isn’t operating fully according to form,) were the supposed excuse that the clearing Secret Service officer (it was down to one guy) didn’t get everyone properly cleared through the system.   By the time the rehearsal happened (in fast forward) we had an hour -- we thought. But then we were told that they were going to let the guests in at 1:30.  Which meant that maybe there was 45 minutes to work out all the kinks.  Did I mention that Matty and I had to rewrite the show because it is a two hour show and they only wanted an hour and 15.  The first time they fully ran the ‘wedding’ scene was when they ran the wedding scene in the show. 

Team Gefilte was amazing.  Not only did they pull it off, but they had people laughing and crying in all the right places.  It was truly a living, loving production about celebrating the power of family and the importance of Jewish Heritage. 

Ben and James prepping with no time to prep

We rented a bus which left NYC at 6am, we rehearsed and performed from 12:30 to 3:15 and then we went to a VIP reception with the Vice President.  We loaded up the bus at 6:30 and were back in NY by 11:30pm, with a stop at the nicest rest stop between NYC and Washington --- the Delaware Rest stop. 
 [Jordan and Ben did a stretch routine at the Rest Stop:   see a video version of it here!]
Anyway, it has been a non-stop couple of weeks. I for one, (I always wondered what that meant. How can you be more than one?), am exhausted.  But let’s be honest, a command performance at THE WHITE HOUSE, what could be more of a statement on the value of what we created. Broadway World was all over it.  And so were we.  We’re just sayin’…. Iris

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