Posted on March 26, 2009 at 6:32 am
Karen Pogorelc writes:
I have a suggestion/comment. My daughters and I saw 13 in NY, in December. We really enjoyed the show. We were disappointed with the exclusion of “Opportunity” from the show. The song is fantastic. I also thought the show should have had an intermission. With the inclusion of “Opportunity”, you could definitely have had that intermission.
We just purchased the Hal Leonard vocal selections of 13, and “Opportunity” was not included in the book. Will that piece be available to purchase? Are you restoring that song to the show?
I work for a local theater group, and if we ever do that show (which I would love to do) I would definitely want “Opportunity” back in there.
And JRB responds thusly:
You never know what’s going to happen when you put something on stage in front of an audience. Maybe I should say I never know, because often I spend a lot of time fighting for something or defending something that just doesn’t land the way I imagined it. (Also, thank God, it often works out great, but that’s not what we’re talking about.)
So “Opportunity” was a very important song in the show for me, because I thought it was essential that we have a football number in 13, and I thought the events of that song were very significant in the plot. I wrote many versions of that song, more than for any other song in the show, and the production in LA had a different football number than the production at Goodspeed, and “Opportunity” was yet another take on it, and I thought it was the best version of all when we started previews on Broadway.
You may not know this, but there was an intermission in the show, and “Opportunity” was the opener of the second act. But as we went through previews, the show seemed to sag at the end of Act 1 and the beginning of Act 2, and we eventually realized that we could consolidate all the plot information in those scenes, cut the intermission and keep the show rolling forward. Once we did make that cut, the whole show flowed much better. So in the bloodbath, “Opportunity” bit the dust, which was a shame because I loved the song, but it clearly wasn’t working, whether it was the staging or the placement or just the song itself. (It wasn’t the performance, which was always awesome.)
We actually recorded the cast album before we even started technical rehearsals, which is why both “Opportunity” and “Here I Come” (which had been the first act finale) are on the CD even though neither of them is in the show. Nobody seems to lament “Here I Come” very much (I don’t either, truth be told, but I think it sounds good on the recording), but I get a lot of comments about “Opportunity,” and there are two reasons for that, I think:
First, even though it never worked on stage, it’s probably the best sounding track on the CD. There’s no way to know why it catches your ear the way it does, but the minute the drums start on that song, I get all happy and think “It’s a hit!”
The other reason, and the reason cutting the song was so heartbreaking, is that “Opportunity” was really Liz Gillies’s big chance to shine in the show, and she sang the hell out of it. I built the whole song around her voice, knowing what a sensational instrument she had, and every time she sang it, I was blown away by her talent. Even though Lucy (Liz’s character) has a big chunk of “Getting Ready” and the whole opening of “It Can’t Be True,” “Opportunity” was the one number that was built around Lucy from beginning to end. When we cut it, we lost the chance to applaud for one of Lucy’s songs, and by that I mean the audience never got to show Liz how much they loved her. Believe me, cutting the song was a very difficult and depressing decision, but Liz was a trouper, and the show really did play much better without those two songs.
I never wanted the show to have an intermission, truth be told; I didn’t think the story justified two whole acts, and I felt vindicated when we restored the show to its one-act structure. So no, I don’t want to put the intermission back. As for restoring “Opportunity,” I certainly wouldn’t restore it where it was, but I do have an idea about something I could do with it in an earlier section, and that’s one of the things Robert Horn and Dan Elish and I are going to try when we do a developmental production this summer. (I doubt it’s going to work, though, because the show’s probably too long already.)
It’s one of the tricky things about putting the song out there on the CD; I wanted people to be able to hear Liz’s fantastic performance, but I didn’t want people to be disappointed when the song wasn’t in the show anymore. Ultimately, Liz won out, and I’m glad she did, but the reason I won’t make the sheet music available is because I don’t want any guerilla interpolations in future productions. Once we finalize the version of the show that we’re licensing, I’m going to be very clear that that’s the only version of the show that anyone is allowed to do.