In addition to racing with the clock in The Pajama Game, I am also rehearsing for another production which couldn’t be more different, at least as far as musical theatre goes. The other project is a much more recent musical called When Midnight Strikes, a 12-character affair set on the night of the party of parties, as 1999 became 2000. By Charles Miller and Kevin Hammonds, it features broad comedy and emotional drama as a disparate group of people gather to see in the new year and wonder whether the millennium bug will strike. Although it has seen productions in London and New York, it was never a major hit, but certainly deserves attention, if only for the wonderful score which gives each of the characters a revealing solo or duet and features some tricky harmony work for the whole cast.
I auditioned for this show on my birthday (as you do) and was delighted to be offered the role of Chris, the host of the party who is soon discovered (by both his wife and the audience) to have recently ended an affair. Needless to say, this leads first to a certain amount of tension and then to rather a lot of drama. This is a very different part for me, playing someone who is extraordinarily unsympathetic who does little to redeem himself during the course of the evening. Aside from a few barbed one-liners early in the show, this is a character who is not comedic – straight acting will be required for once. During the second act, he has a song which will be a challenge and a privilege to sing. Named ‘Like Father, Like Son’, it is a chance for some empathy with Chris as he delves into the reasons he has done the things he has done. Part of the challenge is the chorus, where the same words occur three times, but mean something different each time they return.
The show is on for one night only at the Tower Theatre, Folkestone, and is produced by Lights Up Productions. This is one of those occasions where I am the oldest cast member, but only just – it will make a change not to be either the baby or the old man of the show. In a first for a show I’ve been involved with, a teaser trailer, filmed at an early rehearsal, has been uploaded to YouTube and can be seen below:
This is an exciting departure for me – a different group of performers, a different theatre, and a chance to really stretch the acting side of my performance in a small ensemble cast. As we sing at the close of Act One, I can’t help thinking that “it’s gonna be a great year, ’cause from here on out it’s the sky!”