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Archive for the 'Theatre' Category

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.

New Role

Monday, September 4th, 2017

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.

Summer Study

Tuesday, August 22nd, 2017

During the rehearsal break for Sweeney Todd, I decided to attend a couple of training courses.  The first one was a Level 1 & Level 2 Estill Vocal Course.  This was a wonderfully practical course that was very well structured.  I imagine it will take me a long time to master the things I was taught, but I will practice once I get back to Tokyo.  I am very happy that I went as it’s been a long time since I felt that anything I was doing vocally was going to significantly improve my voice.  It also gave me insight into what I need to do in order to help other people with their voices.

I attended a course on Directing for Theatre at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.  This course was not as structured as the vocal course and there was a lot of it that I already knew.  It was good, however, to consolidate the information I had learned before and to get to see other people direct.  Directing does seem to be one of those things you can only learn from doing and from watching others.  I have plans to direct a musical next year, so hopefully I’ll be able to use some of the things I learnt.

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.

Spirit of TIP

Wednesday, June 14th, 2017

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.

The Diary of Anne Frank – Director’s Talk

Sunday, June 4th, 2017

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.

The Diary of Anne Frank – Thoughts on the Production

Thursday, May 25th, 2017

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

On With The Show

Thursday, May 4th, 2017

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.