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Archive for the 'musical theatre' Category

Songs for a New World – Finished Production

Monday, June 25th, 2018

I can never work out what I feel when a production ends.  It’s one of the questions I get asked, “how do you feel?”, “how to you think the show went?”, “are you pleased?”.  But at the end of a performance I feel exhausted and flat.  All the energy and focus I have for the stage must drain me and leave me devoid of any recognizable emotion.

This was a difficult show for me as I was both directing and performing.  These are two incredibly different jobs and it’s hard to jump between them in rehearsal.  There were times I was so engrossed with one of the cast members performances that I completely forgot that I had the next song to sing.  I also needed help from other directors with my performance as you can’t see yourself on stage and I wanted to make sure that I had outside opinions that I could trust.

There were other difficult aspects of the show.  The music is technically challenging and each song is a different story sung by different characters.  There is very little time to prepare to be the next character for either the actor or the audience.  The change in musical styles is also a challenge.  Their harmonies are complex and the discords at times felt impossible to get right, but in the end we had a show that sounded beautiful.  I was also concerned about over singing, as some of the gospel style songs in the songs can end up sounding like a vocal competition and I didn’t want that.

The cast were amazing.  People say that a lot about their shows, but I was very fortunate to have so many professional singers and performers involved with the show.  My production team also made sure that things ran smoothly and I’m incredibly grateful for all their work.  There is a lot of focus on directors and actors, but there are so many other aspects to theatre that are required for a show.

Congratulations and thank you for a stunning Opening Night! You and your outstanding cast filled the theater with beauty, passion, joy, spirit, tears, reflection, sensuality, playfulness, awe…and also hilarity and hoots and hollers! A brilliant mix of all things human. — Rachel Walzer

 

Amazing Journey

Saturday, May 26th, 2018

Last Sunday night we finished working on The Who’s Tommy.  It’s hard to say “goodbye” to a show that we have been working on for half a year. My post-show blues haven’t been too bad, since I am still working on another show, but I do miss the Tommy team and cast.

Every show I work on gives me the opportunity to learn new skills and to improve the skills I have.  The role of Assistant Director is an odd one as the job changes depending on the director.  I find it hard to articulate what I did in this role, other than to say that I was there to support the director and to fill in any gaps in the production team.  I was also the Vocal Director so spent many rehearsals teaching music.  The show is almost entirely sung-through, with music that is more complex than most people would expect from a rock-opera.

It will take me while to fully process my thoughts on the experience, but for now I’m grateful that I got the opportunity.

What About the Boy? Photo Credit: Rodger Sono

Songs for a New World – June 2018

Tuesday, May 1st, 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.

Youth Theatre

Wednesday, April 18th, 2018

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.

TIP Youth – Season 8

Wednesday, March 28th, 2018

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.

The Who’s Tommy

Tuesday, March 27th, 2018

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.

Musical Challenges

Monday, January 22nd, 2018

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.

Start of Year

Wednesday, January 17th, 2018

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.

 

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.