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Rehearsals are growing more frequent for The Old Globe’s “Odyssey,” the musical theater piece the theater commissioned in honor of its 75th anniversary. The piece seats people together that might never otherwise cross paths, among them members of a church choir, a hip-hop troupe, frequenters of a YMCA in southeastern San Diego and longtime Globe patrons.
The logistical tangle of lining up more than 200 calendars to schedule rehearsals made director Lear deBessonet’s eyes widen when I bumped into her outside the potluck dinner last week that officially marked the production’s beginning.
Since then, she and composer and lyricist Todd Almond and the rest of the production staff have convened a handful of rehearsals, and gone on a few field trips to the larger groups’ regular rehearsals offsite. By the time deBessonet and I spoke on the phone Thursday morning, she said the bit of terror she’d felt about the planning and details had started to subside. (The play opens Sept. 30.)
This week, the crew visited the St. Stephen’s church choir, which is singing the voice of Athena, and the couple of dozen kids from Junior Theatre whose musical piece represents the sound of the underworld.
“When you actually get there, when you’re not thinking about a number anymore but when you’re looking at those faces, all of the anxiety associated with it melts away,” she said. “The beauty of it takes over.”
But that was Thursday morning. Before the power outage.
Friday I sent deBessonet a text message to see if being unplugged ruffled last night’s plans, which were to run over music with some of the Globe Guilders, playing Sirens, and Odysseus’s men, culled from auditions at the Jackie Robinson YMCA and a Mid-City church’s urban outreach program.
But instead, the people playing the Calliopes — Homer’s muse for the “Odyssey” epic — rehearsed music by ear outside in the park, “until they kicked us out!” she said. She texted a picture of Almond at the impromptu practice.
The cancelation disappointed at least one cast member.
“It was one of the Guilders’ 76th birthday and she was very sad because rehearsal was what she had planned as celebration,” deBessonet said. “We will all sing to her at the next group rehearsal.”
We’ll be following this production as it continues to unfold. Friday was slated to be the first regular day of rehearsals with the professional actors who will be joining the community members. Saturday they’ll rehearse en masse for the first time.
I’m Kelly Bennett, the arts editor for VOSD. You can reach me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or 619.325.0531.
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