Khaos

Songs for a New World – June 2018

Last night we had our first vocal rehearsal for my June production of Jason Robert Brown’s Songs for a New World.  It was wonderful.  The cast are talented and I will admit that I did a little jump for joy the when we managed to sing through the opening of the show for the first time.  It’s going to be stressful but I’m never happy without a little stress in my life.

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Youth Theatre

I have just finished working on TIP Youth for this season.  Production week is always hard work, but it was certainly worth it to see the children perform on stage.  They had so much energy and joy.  I’m also very fortunate in that I really like the team that puts together TIP Youth and would happily work with them on future projects.

I have two more shows that I’m working on before the end of June, The Who’s Tommy, and Songs for a New World.  After that I’m hoping I can take a break in the summer and maybe do some more studying before the next season begins.

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TIP Youth – Season 8

For the past sixth months I have been working as music director of TIP Youth.  It’s getting close to production week and I’m excited to see these shows once we get into the theatre.  They look great in rehearsal but there is no doubt that the addition of a set, lights, and costume, will add magic to the show.

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The Who’s Tommy

I’m currently part of the production team of Tokyo International Players The Who’s Tommy, which runs from the 17th May to the 20th May.

The Who’s Tommy is a rock musical based on The Who’s 1969 rock opera Tommy.  I’m not a big fan of The Who, but the music is growing on me.  I really do like Eyesight To The Blind and I imagine by the time the show is on stage that I’ll love the music.  In rehearsal we work with a brilliant pianist, but it’s going to be great the first time we got to rehearse with the band as guitar music can sound rather boring on a piano.

I’m enjoying the challenge of teaching the music.  It sounds different from the traditional musicals I usually work on, but it’s every bit as complicated.  There are some great harmonies in the show and at least one piece has 13 different vocal parts.  The main issue with the number of vocal parts is that quite a few of the songs have to be sung in strict time, and that doesn’t seem very rock ‘n roll to some of the cast.

As part of the process we’ve been learning more about music of the era.  Last week we got to meet Morgan Fisher, who had toured with The Who, and it was fascinating hearing his stories and listening to him play keyboards.

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Musical Challenges

I spent the weekend teaching.  It seems incredibly difficult for a cast of singers to remain focused when I’m trying to teach solo lines.  They talk, fidget, and completely zone out.  And this happens when the line I’m teaching is only 4 bars long.  Teaching harmony lines also takes a lot of effort as they don’t seem to stick.  I wish that more singers learnt to read music, or that they listened to the recordings of the songs.  Too many people think that singing is just about learning the words and the tune, but that is is only the beginning.

I do know that in the end that the musicals will sound good, but it does take a lot of patience in the beginning.

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January 22nd, 2018
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Start of Year

I started the year by going to the theatre and by attending a 5 day musical theatre improv course.

I got to see Hamilton, The Ferryman, and The Play That Goes Wrong.  All three shows were incredibly good, though very different.  Hamilton lived up to the hype and I would go and see it again tomorrow. It was visually stunning.  I had heard a lot about the score, and nothing about the scenic design, lighting, and choreography, all of which were beautiful. I loved the ensemble and think they should feature more in the reviews.  Whilst the actor playing Hamilton was great it’s easier to stand out and shine when you are constantly being supported by an amazing ensemble.

I was a little concerned about going to see The Ferryman as anything set in Northern Ireland can be difficult for me to watch. Jez Butterworth’s play dealt with issues that happened in my life time, and though at times it did head towards Irish family caricature territory it worked well.  I was not expecting to see a baby and a goose on the stage and was surprised by how much they pull focus.  We are certainly fascinated by the things on a stage that appear true and real.

The Play That Goes Wrong was funny from the moment we sat in the theatre.  It has some great set falling down effects, which would make it difficult to put on a version of the show, but the things that made me laugh the most were the things that are easier to reproduce.  It’s incredibly funny watching actors stand on the hand of another actor who is supposed to be playing a dead man and seeing him try not to react to the pain. (I imagine it’s a fake hand, but that doesn’t take away from the humour.) I also enjoyed the fake fighting, probably because I had spent the morning before the show in a slapstick workshop learning how to do things like looking as if you are smashing a persons head off the table.

The Showstoppers improv course I attended was excellent.  I got to work with great teachers and generous improvisers.  It wasn’t easy, as I’m still not comfortable with improv, but I’m glad that I went and would study with them again.

It was a good start to another year that I hope will be dominated by theatre and by being creative.

 

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Songs for a New World

Next year I will be directing Songs for a New World for TIP Second Stage.  The show will run from the 21st to the 24th June at Hope Theater, Pocket Square  The first musical from Tony Award winner, Jason Robert Brown (Parade, Bridges of Madison County), it contains a beautiful collection of powerful songs that examine life, love, and the choices that we make.

I have loved the show since the first time I worked on parts of it with Chris Levens of Body N Voice Studios.  It has taken me more than a year but now I have the rights, a theatre, and a great team of people to help me create the show.  I’m nervous as there are still so many things for me to learn, but it’s going to be a great journey.

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TIP Youth – Season 8

I’ve just started work as music director on this season of TIP Youth.  We will have two shows that run in mid-April.  Our younger group is working on “Disney’s Alice in Wonderland”, and the older group has “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast”.  The music in “Beauty and the Beast” is well known and beautiful.  “Alice” is a lot quirkier and contains a rather strange version of “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah”, which I’m hoping grows on me.

I enjoy teaching ensembles and one of the wonderful things with teaching a younger group is watching how much they improve.  Everyone can improve, but the children are much more open to the concept.

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Attend the tale of Sweeney Todd

After months of rehearsal we finally made it to the theatre.  Playing Mrs Lovett wasn’t easy, but it certainly taught me a lot and showed me that I could perform a difficult role.

Mrs Lovett, Tokyo International Players Photo Credit: John Matthews – john-matthews.net

It was an experience I won’t forget and I’m thankful to have been given so much support by members of the cast and crew.

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New Role

I was appointed to the board of governors of Tokyo International Players (TIP) at their AGM in August.  For the past year I have been a TIP advisor, working on their volunteer committee.  I’m looking forward to continuing that work and to being more involved with the English language theatre community in Tokyo.

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