A show in a week?


Sometimes, it’s fun to scare yourself a little.  Roller-coasters.  New culinary sensations.  Whatever gets the adrenaline pumping.  So why not put on a show with one week of rehearsals?  That’s pretty much what Lights Up Productions have been up to.  It’s extraordinarily scary, but very exciting as well.

The show is I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change, a comic exploration of dating, romance, marriage and every aspect of love.  The cast of eight portray dozens of characters as we move from first dates to meeting the parents, marriage, kids and beyond.  The main ingredient in the rehearsal room has been laughter, as we have dissolved into fits of giggles (and the occasional snort) on many occasions.  There are some serious bits as well, with some of the songs and sketches showing extraordinary honesty, particularly those which look at long-term relationships and at people coping with the loss of their loved ones.

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There are always wolves


I shouldn’t have played the wolf.

That’s not modesty (false or otherwise) on my part, but the truth.  I played Rapunzel’s Prince in Into the Woods and traditionally, the role of the Wolf is doubled by the actor playing Cinderella’s Prince (older brother to the prince I played).  Certain other characters are traditionally doubled in the show, but as it happened, this was the only doubling in our production.  There are many reasons why the original doubling is preserved.  The biggest of them is probably that Cinderella’s Prince doesn’t make an appearance until after the Wolf has been done away with, whereas Rapunzel’s Prince has a scene between the Wolf’s two appearances on stage, making the costume change issue more complicated.  This would also leave the prince’s steward free to double the role, and indeed this was originally mooted for us.

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Lessons from the woods


It’s show week for Into the Woods and things are going well.  We could do with selling a few hundred more tickets, but the feedback we’ve been getting from audiences has been wonderful.  It was quite wonderful to finally get on stage after six months of rehearsal, and it was a particular treat because the set smelt really beautiful at first, as it includes fresh pine – lovely!

At various points in the show, some of the characters consider the lessons they have been learning on their journeys through the woods (though it soon becomes evident that some of them learn nothing at all).  So what have I been learning?

  • A moment of vagueness means a few bars of miming.
  • The slippier the shoes, the further the slide.
  • The hair of a wig tastes most foul in the mouth.
  • Entering too early is embarrassing for all.
  • You may know it’s all good and all learnt and all ready, but you’re pleased when the audience laughs.

And finally, I have learned that if you are going to cut yourself shaving, the day of the dress rehearsal is not a good time to do it.  Having to apply and remove make-up at least twice (depending on how difficult a particular make-up moment turns out to be) means that the cut doesn’t have a chance to heal and actually gets worse.  Oops.

Into the Woods is a very special show indeed, and touches my heartstrings in unexpected ways.  I have tried to explain what the show is about over at a site devoted to East Kent theatre – Stage Corner.

Book of the moment: Cloud Atlas


Cloud Atlas cover

Cloud Atlas

Sometimes membership of a book group forces you to read something which you have been avoiding for whatever reason.  This can be a bad thing, or it can be a good thing.  In the case of David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas, it is a very, very good thing.  I had been avoiding the book because a great many people had told me I ought to read it, and such pronouncements often make me nervous, feeling (irrationally) that if I don’t enjoy the book I will be letting people down.  Well, everyone was right and I enjoyed it very much.

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Misunderstood Mikado


This week, the Guardian featured a story on an American theatre group apologising for an aspect of its production of The Mikado.  Apparently, the Lord High Executioner’s patter song had been updated, as is traditional, to include some modern examples of people who would be on his “little list” and who therefore “never would be missed.”  On of these was Sarah Palin, probably the most famous woman in America at the moment.  Her inclusion had angered certain people, and the theatre group had to issue an apology.  I think that’s a crying shame.

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CD of the Moment: Kitty’s Kisses


My collection of musical theatre cast recordings has expanded faster than I’ve been able to listen to the CDs, a state of affairs that simply cannot be allowed to continue. So one of my aims for 2011 is to work my way through these thus-far unplayed discs, and to write about those which seem particularly worthy of note.  The first of these is a recording of an old show that even I hadn’t heard of before the recording was announced.

Kitty's Kisses CD art

Kitty's Kisses CD cover

Kitty’s Kisses : World Premiere Recording

PS Classics – PS-987

During the 1920s, literally hundreds of musicals opened and closed on Broadway, and even the most successful of them tended to last for one or two years at the most.  A run of a few months was enough to turn a profit and classify a show as a hit.  The cream of these shows are still household names, including Show Boat and Porgy & Bess, but most of them have since been forgotten, their songs and dances lost to the mists of time.  For a musical from 1926 to receive a 21st-century recording, particularly since it has never been recorded before, is quite remarkable.

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Book of the moment: The Moon Pool


The Moon Pool

The cover of The Moon Pool, A. Merritt

Early science fiction bears little resemblance to the stories we would now class in the genre.  Decades before Isaac Asimov’s Robot stories or the birth of the Star Trek franchise, the genre began to take shape in the writings of authors like Jules Verne and H.G. Wells.  The Moon Pool by Abraham Merritt, an author I had never heard of before picking up the book, sits alongside their works, bearing some similarities to proto-s.f. like Journey to the Centre of the Earth, but more closely resembling stories like King Solomon’s Mines with some scientific theories thrown in.  I picked up the book some time ago as part of a “3 for 2” deal, attracted by the fact that the latest reprint was inspired by The Moon Pool‘s apparent similarities to the TV show Lost, which I rather enjoyed.  This, coupled with an interest in the beginnings of the genre, was enough to inspire me to buy it.

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