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Archive for the 'Tokyo International Players' Category

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.

Theatre Work

Wednesday, March 1st, 2017

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

The Costumes of Macbeth

Monday, October 17th, 2016

So much work goes into putting on any production.  I was only involved in Macbeth for the past few weeks and it took over my life.  For the production team who have been involved since the inception of this project I imagine it’s taken up a huge part of this year.

The show was visually beautiful with a stark, clean aesthetic. I worked with a team of sewers, lead by costume designer Sara Ben-Abdallah, and made some of the garments she created.

Macduff vs Macbeth

Fight scene between Macduff and Macbeth – image by John Matthews

The pleats, that I spent quite a bit of time stressing over, looked great in the final pieces.

Something Wicked This Way Comes

Saturday, October 1st, 2016

Marty is going to be on stage for the first time in years.  He has a small part in Tokyo International Players production of Macbeth, which opens on October 13th.  I will be helping out with costumes and wardrobe, so hopefully I’ll still get a chance to watch the play.

I did see a scene, between Lady Macbeth and Macbeth, acted out last night at the Improvazilla Mainstage Show and it was excellent.

Marty, about to fight with a big stick.

Marty, at rehearsal, about to fight with a big stick.

The Journey Ends

Monday, May 23rd, 2016

It’s the morning after the last performance of Big River.  I’m in that post performance daze where it seems hard to believe that 6 months of work is over.

There were many new experiences and challenges working on this project, but the stand out thing was the people I worked with.  I was incredibly impressed by the director, stage manager, and the production team.  It made such a difference working with people who had a strong vision for the show and were competent in facilitating that.  I loved how the cast worked together.  We had a story to tell and everyone helped each other tell it.  There was a lot of love and support and a real feeling that we wanted each other to succeed and perform to the best of our ability.  It was also a joy working with the incredibly talented musicians.

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed working with costume and wardrobe.  My sewing skills are basic, but I did manage to make my own costumes and some other pieces.  I discovered that ironing costumes in the theatre before the rest of the cast arrived really helped with the anxiety I feel before performing.  Actually, all the costume work did.  Having cast members come to me because they had lost their hat or their apron gave me something to think about other than the fact that I was going to have to perform in front of an audience.  I don’t do well if I have to sit still.

Acting with an American accent was a challenge.  I have no idea if I was any good at it, but I tried.  One of my friends who came to see the show appeared stunned by my performance saying that they had no idea who that woman was on the stage, but she wasn’t me.  I’m going to take that as a compliment as I’m not an old, American, shrewish spinster.

The Opening Number

Photo of “Do Ya Wanna Go to Heaven”, by Teruaku Ito

It was the first time I was involved in dramaturgy as I wrote a short piece on the historical context of the play for the program.  I didn’t know what the word “dramaturgy” meant when I was first asked to do this, but I was happy to try and I did enjoy researching the history of the 1840s in America.

So for now I will find a place to keep all the lovely notes and mementos I received and I’ll take a break from theatre.  It may be the end of my journey down the river, but it’s much too soon to know which parts of my own journey are only beginning.