Khaos

Archive for the 'musical theatre' Category

Songs for a New World

Tuesday, December 5th, 2017

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.

TIP Youth – Season 8

Tuesday, November 7th, 2017

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.

Attend the tale of Sweeney Todd

Monday, November 6th, 2017

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.

Still Rehearsing

Thursday, August 31st, 2017

I’m working on the part of Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd.  I don’t have a good process for learning lines of dialogue and find it easier to learn songs.  It’s easy enough to find recordings of songs and I have made a playlist of all my songs, and a rehearsal track playlist.  I was alarmed to see that the songs I’m involved in take about an hour.  That’s a lot of singing.

I have been trying various things to learn the dialogue lines.  I record them, listen to them, write them, recite them, and oddly at times I dream them.  Every morning I wake up with the lines or a song stuck in my head.  I have until the 17th September to be off-book so I need make sure I work on this every day.

Tonight we begin the fight choreography.  Should be interesting finding out how Sweeney is going to throw me in the oven.

 

Difficult Music

Monday, July 17th, 2017

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

Sweeney Todd!

Friday, June 30th, 2017

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.

February Music

Monday, February 6th, 2017

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.

Musical Theatre Improvisation

Monday, January 16th, 2017

I decided to start my 2017 with a 5 day intensive training course.  I had seen a couple of improvised musicals created on stage in Tokyo by Tokyo Comedy Store, and I was curious about the skills needed to do this.  When I saw that Showstoppers, who are an award winning improv group, were teaching these skills in London I was really keen to go and try it.

This was a step-up in complexity compared to the improv classes I normally attend.  We did create the plot, characters, dialogues, and scenes in the moment, but we also added song and dance.  This course also involved long-form improv, which was new for me, as I have been learning short-form improv.

The goal of the course was to learn how to create a 30 minute musical on stage in front of an audience.  Learning how to create improvised songs with choreography involved lots of listening to the pianist and your fellow players.  When it works it looks like magic, when it doesn’t it can be very clumsy and awkward.  But by the end of the week we had gotten very good at listening to each other and also at being clear in what we planned to do next.

The highlights of the week were creating lovely duets, creating my first improvised solo song, and getting to play Alice in Wonderland in a 30 minute musical.