Khaos

Packing!

We are moving apartments.  After being in Minami-senju for over 8 years we decided it was time for a change.  Shinjuku is certainly going to be that.  It’s loud and busy, but it’s also much closer to all the places I spend my time.  Google maps claims it will take me 22 minutes to get to Our Space by train, instead of the 55 minutes it was taking me.  I can also walk in 45, which is amazing.  Our Space is the rehearsal space used by Tokyo Comedy Store, Tokyo International Players, and TIP Youth, so at times I feel like I spend my life either at Our Space or travelling to Our Space.

Packing was a bit of a disaster, and far too much of it has been left to M.  I won’t be at home during the actual move, as I arrived in the UK this morning to study for a month.  It’s going to be strange when I arrive back in Tokyo as I’m not quite sure where the new apartment is.  Shinjuku is a big place.  I did see the apartment once, but I have no sense of direction so won’t find it again without help.  Life certainly feels strange at the minute.

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July 23rd, 2017
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Difficult Music

I’ve spent the weekend running vocal rehearsals for TIP’s upcoming production of Sweeney Todd.  Although I had listened to many different recordings of this musical there are still songs that I’m not overly familiar with.  “The Letter”, sung by the Quintet, is really beautiful and I wish that is was heard more.  And even the songs I know well are difficult because of the discordant harmonies and contrapuntal phrases.

I both love and hate the complexity of the musical.  It is difficult to teach and at times I feel that it is overly precise.  The are places where each bar of music is in a different time signature and I would have preferred if some of this expressive writing could have been left for the performer to interpret.  And then there are the are the places where each part has a different time signature for the same bar… I had never seen that before in a score.

My Latest Musical Challenge

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Sweeney Todd!

I’ve been cast as Mrs Lovett in Tokyo International Player’s production of Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. I love Sondheim and I’m thrilled to get the opportunity to sing in the musical.

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Spirit of TIP

On Saturday evening I went to TIP’s end of season party.  As part of the season’s closing they presented a number of awards and I was incredibly touched to receive The “Spirit of TIP” award.  I find it hard to believe that I’ve only been involved with the English speaking theatre community in Tokyo for just over a year and a half.  It has become such an important part of my life.  I’ve gotten to sing, dance, act, direct, teach, sew, paint, knit, and to find a place that feels like home.

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The Diary of Anne Frank – Director’s Talk

After the Saturday matinee performance of Tokyo International Players production of The Diary of Anne Frank, the director, Jonah Hagans, gave a short talk on the play and took questions from the audience.

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The Diary of Anne Frank – Thoughts on the Production

I finished working on TIP‘s production of The Diary of Anne Frank on Sunday night.   I feel a little lost without the show as it took over my life, particularly during the last couple of weeks.  Although I have been involved in other shows this was the first time I got to see every aspect of putting together a production.  There is a surprising amount of work involved and whilst I have been thinking of directing I’m a little daunted by just how many things a director is expected to do.

As well as assisting the director I got to paint the set, sew, knit, crochet, sing, waltz, and help make props.  I was fascinated by the props.  Some of the things on set look so life-like yet I know that they were put together with things like plastic garbage bins and old food cartons.  I loved the set.  There is something magical about seeing it come to life on a blank stage.

The Diary of Anne Frank – Photo Credit: John Matthews

I’m incredibly glad that I was given the opportunity to work on the production.  I worked with an experienced director, Jonah Hagans, who was willing to teach and put up with my lack of experience.  I worked with so many people including sound and lighting experts, a Tony nominated set designer, the most supportive theatre liaison, and a stage manager who has become a friend.  The cast were amazing at telling the story and still managed to bring me to tears during performances even though I had seen every rehearsal.  It is a story worth telling and I believe we told it well.

“It’s a wonder I haven’t abandoned all my ideals, they seem so absurd and impractical. Yet I cling to them because I still believe, in spite of everything, people are truly good at heart.”

Anne Frank – The Diary of Anne Frank

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On With The Show

The TIP Youth season has finished. It was a lot of fun, and a lot of work. I’m hopeful that I’ll get to do it again next season. The children wrote me the sweetest messages. Though the funniest had to be:

“You’re so good at singing and I love your accent! I’ve been dying for an accent every since.”

My accent certainly was the source of lots of humour for the production team. I managed to confuse the lighting designer when I was talking about the “whale.” He heard me say “wheel” and could not work out why we would have a wheel the size of the stage to swallow Pinocchio. He didn’t say anything though, just pretended he could understand me!

My time is still being taken up with theatre. It’s just 13 days until load-in for The Diary of Anne Frank. There is still so much work to do. Everything is on track, but it does feel like an uphill climb to the end. I’m nervous and excited. It’s going to be an amazing play.

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TIP Youth

I have been working as musical director for TIP Youth for their 2016 – 2017 season. Tonight we had the final performance of My Son Pinocchio Jr. and tomorrow we will have two performances of Fame Jr. It’s been hard work, but I really enjoyed working with the talented cast and crew. I will miss them.

TIP Youth Flyer

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April 22nd, 2017
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Theatre Work

I’ve a busy few months coming up.  I’ve agreed to be assistant director for TIP’s May production of The Diary of Anne Frank.  This is my first time as an assistant director and I’m enjoying the challenge.  It is a heartbreaking play, but a story that is worth telling and feels horribly relevant at the minute.

Flyer for The Diary of Anne Frank

Flyer for The Diary of Anne Frank

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February Music

I’ve been trying to find a musical that I would like to direct.  This is much harder than I expected.  First I have to rule out all the musicals I’d actually like to sing, as I wouldn’t get to do that if I was directing. This isn’t that many musicals as I’m well aware that I can’t sing male roles or female roles that I’m too old for.  People have suggested that I sing male roles but there are strict rules when you get the rights to the show and you can’t just decide to change the gender of a character.  I was thrilled to read recently that Stephen Sondheim had agreed to change the gender of the lead character in Company.

Then there are all the musicals I can’t get the rights to do – anything really that’s currently on Broadway or the West End.  Then you have to rule out the musicals that are currently playing in Tokyo, as I won’t get the rights to those – ruling out things like West Side Story, The Sound of Music, Rent, and Kinky Boots.  And any musical that’s being done by a amateur group or smaller theatre in Japan as there are rules as to often a musical can be played in one region.

Then there all the musicals that are male dominant, as I’m not convinced I would find the cast.  It seems that more women are auditioning for the roles in amateur theatre here. I also like female voices, so don’t know if I really want to put on a show like “Newsies” which has something like 24 male roles and only 2 female ones.

Then there is the problem with cast size.  I really liked musicals like “Once” – not that the rights are available yet – but if the cast is too small it’s difficult to sell tickets. I really do hope I find inspiration soon.

I am planning on being involved in a production of “Songs for a New World” this year.  But I still need to find a theatre and dates before I try to acquire the rights.  It’s not easy to book a theatre in Tokyo, as many of them need booked more than a year in advance, but I’m hopeful that one of the smaller ones will be free in June.

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February 6th, 2017
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