Still Desperately Seeking Madonna
The news that Desperataly Seeking Susan, the musical based on the popular 1985 film to debut soon at the Novello theatre in London, does not contain any Madonna music or songs, but it heavily based on songs by Blondie certainly made more than one eyebrow raise.
Our first feelings was that’s a real pitty as this project would have been the perfect chance to showcase the strenght and beauty of Madonna music repertoire.
And actually there’s something more to be concerned about now that the production is almost complete – when you look at how Emma Williams, the actress chosen for the role of Susan in the West End play, not only is getting in Susan’s shoes, but is actually looking more and more like the one nobody seems to make a mention about in the show, well yes, Madonna.
In an article on The Telegraph Williams reveals how she has been preparing for her role in “Desperately Seeking Susan” – the Musical. Here’s what she wrote – diary-style – about what happened in the fifth, sixth and seventh week of rehearsals – what she calls “Transformations“, “Costumes” and “Rockin’“.
Week 5: Transformations
On Friday it was transformation time as Kelly Price and I were released from rehearsals, much to the chagrin of our fellow cast members, to be primped, preened and polished into our alter egos of Roberta and Susan, in order to recreate that famously iconic image of Rosanna Arquette and Madonna from the film for future press/poster/embarrassing-the-grandkids usage.
The scariest part of a shoot like this is the metamorphosis from no make-up to slaptastic, one extreme to the other. You stare blearily into the strip-lit mirror at your spots and eye bags after a long day of rehearsals and it’s hard not to panic as the artist wields a foundation the colour of terracotta, despite your alabaster skin.
It’s a leap of faith, but when you come through the other side, as you always do, you realise that they obviously did know what they were doing, and you don’t look like you had an epileptic fit at an Estée Lauder counter. The only thing missing from the final photo shoot is that famous cigarette – a sign of the times?
Week 6: Costumes
Well, I finally stood still long enough to be kidnapped by our wonderful costume department and forced to endure more than an hour of trying on outfits. It was. well, to be brutally honest it was – wonderful! Heaven in eight-and-a-half inches of crotch-skimming leather skirt.
Seriously. I love costume fittings with a passion and this one was no different, although it certainly made me think twice about the jam roly-poly at lunch.
The most glamorous moment was as I stood gripping the top of a teeny, tiny skirt for dear life as someone tugged it from the bottom and a third person forced the zip up. Definitely better than any corset I’ve ever tried and, oddly, they still found a few spare inches to put my microphone pack in, possibly where my kidneys once were.
But how a character dresses is key for actors when defining them. Making the leap to play someone as diametrically opposite to myself as Susan means that I have been wandering around the rehearsal room with my hair tied in a scarf, basque in place and fingerless gloves ironically to hand.
I’m looking more and more like Madonna in the film – it’s as if a branch of Claire’s Accessories has vomited on me. Fantastic!
(A small note from the Tribe to Emma, and in complete honesty, no harsh whatsoever. Madonna was using the original designs created by Maripol – and already being a part of her own wardrobe – in the “Susan” movie. I can understand how you may feel “as if a branch of Claire’s Accessories” has vomited on you, but that’s either rather unrespectful in regards to the talent of the original designer who made fashion history creating that look – or revealing about how cheap can be to replicate the same nowadays – and we’re not talking about money).
Week 7: Rockin’
Another big day as the ticket agents from across London came to see two excerpts from the show. One is the huge party section from Act 2, which is called “In the Sun”.
Still, it remains an interesting story and probably will turn great into musical material. It comes at the moment in the film where Madonna emerges from Roberta and Gary‘s swimming pool wearing nothing but a bra and boxer shorts. I think you may have just spotted the swimsuit moment we’ve all been in sit-up hell over.
We’ve now spent the past two weeks in a darkened theatre “teching” our show. I feel as though I haven’t seen daylight the entire time and I’m not altogether certain that I haven’t become nocturnal.
However, the atmosphere here is electric and the adrenaline high. The cast and the band sound incredible. We are fully acclimatised to our crazy set, have worked out the jigsaw puzzle for storing props and got totally lost in the rabbit warren of dressing-rooms backstage.
All that’s left to do now is pin on our wigs, slap on the make-up and swallow our nerves for the first preview. Prepare yourself, London.
“Desperately Seeking Susan” began previews at the Novello Theatre in London on Wednesday.
From an article on The Telegraph.