Seussical – Rehearsals

It’s now Friday; the day that ends my working week. So what better way to spend it than writing about my experience rehearsing and touring our latest project – Seussical.

Week 1

This week was a burst of all things fantastical, it was the start of our show rehearsals for Seussical the Musical. Music by Stephen Flaherty, lyrics by Lynn Ahrens and the book by the two. In case you hadn’t guessed already it’s a musical based on the works of Dr. Seuss. Our task was to create a show for children as well and touring it around local primary schools as part of our Theatre in Education module.

We started off the week by first exploring what exactly we thought the show was about and how we could implement this into our performance. This week was very much about exploring and creating the magical world of Seuss through play. We dived into exercises relating to our own life experience, touching on the heightening of characters and the ‘BIG IDEA’.

The importance of treating everyone and the environment fairly, respecting and celebrating diversity in oneself and in others and challenging discrimination.

In Seussical, there are many moments where certain characters go against the ‘big idea’. My character happened to be one of the culprits of this. Wickersham 1 is part of a hypermasculine duo of monkey brothers who go out of their way, under the Sour Kangaroos impression, to make Horton the Elephant’s life a living hell. I was really excited about this because it meant that I would be playing a character that is mischievous and playful. Essentially I got to be a little kid again. Researching further from this our task was to create a mood board of ideologies and themes and representations of our character and present it to the class. I decided to be a Venezuelan Red Howler monkey.

Colombian-red-howler-monkey-mouth-open

I also collated images of jocks to emphasize the pack mentality of the Wickershams’ and the hypermasculinity nature of the character. This is something we thought enhanced their status in the ensemble as its what drives their intent. They have to be bigger than everyone else and when something isn’t going their way they take action and cause the trouble.

I also found Akram Khans’s work very inspiring in terms of movement for the monkeys as he’s all about creating shapes whilst staying grounded. I’ve seen several of his works and each one I’ve loved. This is what lead me to look into tribes and capoeira as an art form; the Wickershams’ had to be quick on their feet and on alert at all times.

Later in the week, we utilised this research by putting it into practice through the embodiment of our characters and finally choreographing the opening number. There was a great sense of freedom and exploration instilled into this week which I particularly enjoyed even if it did feel a bit slow-moving at times.

Week 2

Arriving today was our choreographer, Jenny Arnold. This week primarily focussed on blocking and choreographing scenes; it was also the first time I workshopped my duet – Monkey Around. It took me a few tries to fully get into the scene but after completion and an extra rehearsal on myself and Brendan’s behalf, I left feeling relatively happy with what we achieved.

* cue round of applause *

The majority of the week was loosely based on creating and running through everything we had so far. I spent my breaks sipping herbal tea continuously and nurturing my mini injury I suffered mid-week. Somehow I managed to pull my groin which hurt a hell of a lot. It felt as though it was hinging in and out of place consistently. A hot bubble bath was what was prescribed that evening. I spent the rest of the week playing catchup in terms of what I needed to be doing physically. By the end of the week, I was restored to full health. My other cast double, on the other hand, was not. He too suffered an injury, an injury I would later learn meant that he would not be able to perform in the shows.

A blessing or a curse?

Week 3

As part of my costume, I had to wear American footballers shoulder guards and this was the week we got to try them out. It helped with the overextending nature of the monkeys and spatially it caused little problems which was good. This was the week where my vocal health started to deteriorate.

Herbal tea and yet even more herbal tea.

It’s safe to say I like my tea. It was my friend during this week for sure. Further into the week we continued working in exploring scenes and blocking numbers in the order of the show. After a hectic week the show was finally pieces together and Friday was our first performance in the primary schools. I had the joy of performing twice on this particular day and the 2nd run went vastly better than the first. I think once you do one show you’re more set for the rest and that was definitely the case on friday.

Week 4

SHOW WEEK

Such fun. This was a week of travelling; Thankyou London for great transport links. What was so great about this experience was the cohort of children. Each school was different so you never knew exactly what you would be getting yourselves into. Some offered heaps of energy as an audience and you could easily spot out the ring leaders and cheeky monkeys in the audience whereas others offered little; instead opting for a seated silence despite watching intently. Regardless of the audience you still had to put on a god show and thats exactly what we did.

As a cast we were involved in the setting up and taking down of the set and making sure all the props and costumes were packed away ready for the next cast’s performance. I think it was a great experience in terms of reality when dealing with a small budget touring performance as it gave us an insight into how things work and where our career could take us.

Amidst the hectic schedule I made time for a class at Laban that Danni Middle was putting on for us. This week was heels. It was my 1st Heels Class and a really great way to get comfortable in a pair of heels whilst dancing.

The End

Our final performance of the tour was to be at Laurie Grove in which we invited friends and family to support us in our show. We, as a cast, hadn’t performed in this venue since our first year end of show The Dreaming so it all felt rather nostalgic.

So my final 12th Show was completed and the experience as a whole has been really rewarding and I’m grateful for the opportunity to showcase this to a vast amount of audiences around our area. Being Christmas it felt right giving back to our community in one way or another and this definitely helped do that. Now though, it’s off to Berlin for me before going home for the holidays.

Let’s get merry.

The Dreaming

It’s finally time to introduce you to ‘The Dreaming’. With rehearsals well underway I’m very excited to get this show up on it’s feet. In just 6 weeks time (9-10th June 2017) I will be performing my very first show here at Trinity Laban.

The Dreaming is a musical created by Howard Goodall and Charles Hart based on William Shakespear’sA Midsummer Night’s Dream’. For our auditions we had to prepare two contrasting contemporary-legit songs for the first round. In terms of recalls we were then asked to look over material dependent on the character casting. For my audition I chose two beautiful songs that I would definitely use again for the future. My first choice was ‘She’s a Woman’ from ‘Kiss of the Spider Woman’. Kiss of the Spider Woman is a musical with music by John Kander and Fred Ebb, with the book by Terrence McNally. It is based on the Manuel Puig novel ‘El Beso de la Mujer Araña’. It tells the tale of Luis Alberto Molina, a gay man who is in a prison for corrupting a minor. He lives in a fantasy world to flee his current life, the torture, fear and humiliation. His fantasies revolves around movies, particularly around Aurora – a vampy diva. Moline gets a new cell mate –  Valentin Arregui Paz, a Marxist revolutionary who has been badly tortured. Molina has to battle against telling the guards Valentin’s secrets, falling in love with Valentin and staying sane in this cell. It’s such a beautiful story and the score is equally as beautiful. ‘She’s a Woman’ highlights Molina’s heroism of what he knows to be masculinity. It tells his story well. My second song was from ‘Grey Gardens’ by Doug Wright, music by Scott Frankel, and lyrics by Michael Korie, based on the 1975 documentary of the same title about the lives of Edith Ewing Bouvier Beale (“Big Edie”) and her daughter Edith Bouvier Beale (“Little Edie”) by Albert and David Maysles. The song was titled ‘Drift Away’. This too was a really good song for me.

*********************************************************************************************************************************

So far, the music is incredible and the script is filled with such comedic writing. I have been given one of the ‘mechanicals’ roles – Walter Grubb (The butcher’s boy). Having just completed a read through of a few scenes I am completely in love with the chemistry the mechanicals have with one another. It’s filled with comedy and wit – a pair Shakespeare, like Goodall, does well. In terms of characterisation and costume there is so much to play about with and as a member of the mechanicals there is some really great scenarios I get to have fun with, which is always exciting! I also get to be a member of the ensemble in the form of Angel (Oberon) ‘s Boy Woodlanders. Today we had a really insightful and engaging discussion about who they are and where they may have come from. This sparked curiosity and a or of creativity. It was interesting to hear different people’s viewpoints. So far its been a really two-way creation between us the performers and the directors. I’ve definitely got my research to do but I’m thrilled to begin the journey. I’m beyond excited to get to work with our choreographer Matthew Cole on the show also.

For now though its off to rehearsals, Day 3.

To learn more about a different project I worked on  click here.