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Perrine has the most difficult job at the rehearsal because he has to write different arrangements for every performance.
“Every show has different instrumentation,” he explains, “so each time I have to write new arrangements.” The complete recorded version of was released earlier this year, an album project that in itself is a watermark in New Orleans music history.
De Lay’s voice is extraordinary—she is a Boutté, after all—but combined with her acting ability and her passion for the story, she has the capacity to steal the show. I’ve dealt with that in theater where somebody has broken their leg and somebody has to come in and do the role on the spot. We are soldiers of the story.” This rehearsal scene reminds me of numerous films about stage productions in progress, usually derailed by lack of funds but saved at the last minute by white knight investors and/or the producer’s canny machinations.
“We have to depend on each other,” says De Lay later in the backstage dressing room. We’ve done this enough times that the people he’s going to ask to come in are people who know what they need to do and are all going to be team players. But the that follows a cross section of New Orleanians between hurricanes Betsy (1965) and Katrina (2005).
Meanwhile Matt Perrine is directing the band, gesturing to the string section and nodding encouragement. “That’s an eight count before you come in,” he says.
Guillotte looks perfectly comfortable, while Perez brings such sensitivity and vulnerability to her reading of Belinda that actor/writer Vatican Lokey, who does a wickedly funny turn as a priest, hugs her spontaneously after one of her numbers.
This is the sixth time the music from the show has been staged in New Orleans.
Each performance has been a kind of workshop to help shape the ambitious 39-part song cycle.
Sanchez lost his house but not his bearings, determined that he would reinvent himself in his 50s. I didn’t know who I was going to be after the flood. I wanted to learn about all forms of New Orleans music and find out where I fit in.” Sanchez began taking guitar lessons from John Rankin, and soon he was not only able to sit in with a wide range of New Orleans artists he wanted to play with, but to feature a bunch of them in what he began calling his Rolling Road Show.
“When I left the Mouth, we’d been playing the same songs, virtually the same set for 15 years,” he says. His performances became a songwriters’ showcase that changed personnel and content from show to show.