Khaos

End of Year Work

The year will end soon and it seems that this causes companies in Japan to go mad and to try to get as much work finished as possible before New Year. So suddenly I find myself recording more songs in a week than I recorded in the last few months. Being asked to record musical theatre songs makes sense, but I never expected to be singing backing vocals for a karaoke track of Khalid’s “Young Dumb & Broke”.

I’m also busy casting Cinderella for Tokyo International Players. The first rehearsal is this Saturday, so that part of the work is nearly completed. It’s going to be an exciting show. I’ll be blogging about it on my other website.

I have 10,000 words to write for my current module, but I’m struggling with getting started. I much prefer doing the research and the practical work, to the writing it all up part. But I will start soon. I’m looking forward to April, when this course will be completed.

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December 12th, 2019
. . .

Cinderella Begins

Autumn is starting to make itself felt in Tokyo. I was out of the country, during Hagibis, and I’m glad that the more recent storms have been mild in comparison. I have been watching the changing leaves, and the surprising pumpkin displays, and thinking of my May 2020 production of Cinderella.

The fields are aglow in autumn yellow, and the sky is a robin’s egg blue.

Rodger & Hammerstein’s Cinderella

Often, when talking about a show, we talk about the production dates, and not the large amount of time spent before that to create the show. The process started in the summer when I put together the proposal for Tokyo International Players. Cinderella was not my first choice, of a show to direct, but getting rights to musicals in Japan is difficult. Many of the well known shows have their rights on hold with large Japanese theatre companies and others don’t grant rights in this region. It is always disappointing to work on a proposal, only to discover there was never a chance of working on the show. But I’m excited to be working on Cinderella.

The auditions will be at the end November and I have already analyzed the show and put together many of the production team. I have also been creating art work to promote the show and the auditions. Yesterday, I met with a designer and discussed possible ways of creating a pumpkin that turns into a carriage, one of the many technical challenges for the show.

I have received the rehearsal tracks and I’m delighted with them. This is the first time I have used ROC’s rehearsal track system and I love the control it is giving me over the score. I will miss having a live orchestra, and the music director I have worked with in the past, but the ability to change keys and to give the cast access to all of their vocal parts is amazing. In the past we have recorded all of the vocal parts before rehearsals start and it takes a long time. And, yes, I could change key with an orchestra, but it means re-scoring all the parts or paying to have this done – so we tend to never to that.

There is no doubt that the show will take over my life in the months to come, but it’s going to be worth it. I will get stressed and overwhelmed but the show will bring joy to the cast and the audience.


. . .

The Weirdest Kid I Know

I am currently working as vocal director on TTFC’s newest show, The Weirdest Kid I Know. The quirky sci-fi musical will be running from the 15th to 17th November at Woody Theatre.

This is the second time this year that I’m getting to work on a new musical!

. . .

Back Home

Tokyo is sweltering hot, so I’m glad that I haven’t needed to go out much since I got back. I enjoyed the cool air of Glasgow and the course I studied there. I got to observe an experienced Director working with a new cast, dance the Gay Gordons, sing in Gaelic, and play a number of characters including a goat. Playing a goat was a lot of fun as I don’t often get to be just that playful on stage.

Now that I am back I need to work on my plan for the upcoming year. I will be working as vocal director on TTFC’s upcoming show The Weirdest Kid I Know. I’ll also be working with TIP Youth again this season, though at this stage we don’t know which musicals we will be working on. I’m still waiting to hear if I will be directing for Tokyo International Players in their upcoming season.

I am still studying, and my current unit focuses on vocal registers. Getting time to study, with my rehearsal schedule, is difficult, but I am learning a lot and I’m glad that I started the course.

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August 22nd, 2019
. . .

Disturbance Interviews

The musical opens in two weeks! I’m starting to see a number of interviews regarding the show.

The Metropolis one is interesting as they have interviewed the Director and Composer.

Ultimately, we’re a creative team of artists, and I’d like that our presentation of this domestic abuse story help audiences reach their own conclusions, allowing them to form their own productive discussions about what is a highly important and complex social issue.

Mark Ferris, Composer

As a director, I can use musical theater to be unpredictable and use techniques that reflect the reality of [victims] of domestic abuse as a kind of social message. A lot of victims suffer in secret and, although everything looks fine on the surface, they are concealing a lot of layers of pain and struggle. The music in “Disturbance” is often very beautiful and some scenes begin almost comically, but as we invite the audience into this world, the darkness under the characters’ facades begins to unravel.

Rachel Walzer, Director


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June 18th, 2019
. . .

Disturbance

I am working on a new musical called Disturbance that is being adapted for the stage by Rachel Walzer. The production is based on the book of poems by Ivy Alvarez, with music by Tony Award-winning producer Mark Ferris. 

The book is based on a true story of domestic violence where a man killed his wife and son, before killing himself. The poems feature various family members and those involved in the aftermath of the tragedy, such as the neighbours, police officers, and estate agents.

Disturbance Logo

​I have been working on vocal arrangements and on teaching the songs to the cast. This is the first time that I’ve worked directly with the composer of a musical and it’s been an exhilarating experience. I will also be performing as part of the ensemble.

The musical premieres at Musicasa in Tokyo on 2 July 2019, and runs to 4 July 2019.

. . .

Chitty’s End

It’s almost a week now since the final show of Chitty. It was a more tiring experience than I was expecting, and I still don’t know how I feel about it. It was the first time I had attempted to direct such a large show and I know that once I get over the tiredness I’ll be happy with the achievement.

I am grateful that the performance was well received and that we had a good audience. The cast and crew put in an amazing amount of effort and I was very fortunate to get to work with them.

Cast and Crew of Chitty
Cast & Crew of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
Tokyo International Players – Photo Credit: Rodger Sono

As a volunteer organisation it’s not surprising that everyone ends up having to do more than one job. I sorted out most of the costuming for the show myself, and given the time and budget constraints I ended up borrowing as much as I could and buying pieces overseas. In the end I was happy with how the cast looked, though it was not an easy task, nor one I want to do again anytime soon.

. . .

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang!

It won’t be long now.

Flyer for the Tokyo International Players production of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
Flyer for TIP’s Production of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
. . .

Failing at Christmas

This year, I am failing at Christmas.  My little Christmas tree is sitting forlornly without ornaments, none of my presents are wrapped, and my cards are not written.  Living in a place where Christmas is not a major holiday does not help as I have many other distractions.  I did manage to buy a turkey, as I do want to eat turkey on Christmas day, but given how expensive they are in Tokyo I did consider doing without.  I’m hoping once I finish working this evening that the Christmas spirit will kick in.

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December 21st, 2018
. . .

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang – Auditions!

I will be directing Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, as the season finale, for Tokyo International Players.  The production will run from May 16-19, 2019 at Theater Sun-Mall in Shinjuku.  I’m nervous and excited about the production.  And the auditions are happening in November!

. . .