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Meanwhile...behind closed doors

Date Posted: 04 Jun 2013

Meanwhile…Behind closed doors

I thought I might dedicate this blog to my current project, Songs for a New World, a collection of songs by Jason Robert Brown, produced by the touring Musical Theatre company Green Room. It has taken up a significant amount of brainpower and time over the last couple of weeks and I’d like to share some of the process with you.

The director, Michael Richardson, has designed, directed and produced the show himself and has created something quite spectacular to watch (we are told by the selected audience who came to our sharing at the weekend.) It is full of excitement and (unintentional) magic tricks as well as some beautifully still moments too. Something for everyone we might say. As a four person cast, and a six person company however, there are challenges involved!

A complex and intensive rehearsal process has delivered us successfully to our destination but not without a lot of hard work and angst. Try giving a singer and tambourine, a shaker, bongos and a snare to play whilst singing exceptionally complex rhythms and harmonies and moving about the stage shifting set as you go. It’s going to take a while. Well it took us a weekend and a half but we’ve gotten there safe and sound before opening night on Friday. It was scary and very difficult! The great thing about the show is that the scene changes are done by the cast subtly as we go, and not by and stage hands. This concept was exciting for me and learning the show in the space of two rehearsals was mind-blowingly hard. At the end of the first run in rehearsal, we all collapsed in a heap and nobody spoke a word for minutes due to exhaustion and shock that we got through it.

The fear was lessened and the excitement increased by the introduction of basketball (which becomes far more relevant when you see the show) as a company warm up! Ready to go on stage utterly out of breath and feeling like you’ve lost 3 pounds before you’ve even started, believe it or not is ideal for this production. You cannot underestimate the need for energy, concentration, hand-eye coordination and focus throughout the entire show. Each of the four cast members are onstage for almost the entire 80 minutes playing a different character every time.  That said there is an amazingly powerful story arc which makes the shows flow very nicely indeed which is not, I believe, in any other production of JRB’s masterpiece.

Woman 2 (My part) songs and characters include:

A woman about to jump of the 57th floor of a building (Just one step)

A woman who has given up men she loved to marry a rich man she doesn’t (Stars and the Moon)

Mrs Claus, Santa’s (soon to be ex) wife (Surabaya Santa)

A woman who finally realises who she is meant to be with (I’d give it all for you)

 

All of which are great fun to play, although when the set wobbles beneath your feet you do wonder if just one step might just become too literal.

It’s an incredible show and all of the cast have been so intelligent and easy to work with, including Neil Metcalfe (MD), Emma Sedlack, Darren Niven and Paul AllisonThompson.

I hope very much that the first run (and tour) we do is a success and gets some good audiences. Green Room have chosen to perform in churches in Edinburgh, Haddington, Falkirk, Pitlochry, Aberdeen and Glasgow. The reason for the sacred setting instead of a traditional theatre becomes apparent in the show itself, but there are a series of references to religion in the show, and the atmosphere of the church will add a great deal to the spirituality present in the piece and elevate the experience for all who come to see it, religious or not. It is certainly not a show that requires any form of belief to enjoy, nor does it drum any kind of message to its viewer. You really can take what you like from it.

Information and tickets can be found at www.greenroommusicaltheatre.ticketsource.co.uk

 

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