Friday, 24 July 2015

The Gondoliers reflections !

I have had a few sleepy days and a restful time post show, I only realised how tired I was by Monday morning when I woke up around midday and my back having given up the ghost ! I cannot sit and watch the show once it is up and running, I have always found myself at the back, or in the wings swaying with dance rhythms or tensing like a soldier if I sense something is going astray with dialogue or moves ! I was like a 90 year old arthritis sufferer unable to straighten up and about as mobile as a concrete garden gnome !

Two days down the line and the back is much much better, I am now reached a 75 year old garden gnome made of plastic ! Looking up !

I have done much reflecting on the 2015 Gondoliers cast team. In many ways it was a dream team, if you will pardon the colloquialism. We had one or two very upsetting moments in the run up to the show, seriously disturbing, and which caused much sadness in the cast. This could have been very detrimental and brought the general joy and life of rehearsals to a grinding halt. However, in the true sense of 'the show must go on' they picked up, put it behind them and kept calm and carried on. Believe me, it was not easy for a week or so.

The miraculous thing was that the ' bounce back' and the closeness of the group became richer and deeper. Adversity almost always has a huge binding effect and on this occasion that is ( thankfully) exactly what happened. We glued together and all ages and stages learnt a good deal from the situation.

The crowning glory is always when the soloists arrive, and this was especially powerful this year. The team of three added in the final piece of musical and personal scaffolding, adding the uplift of wonderful singing, extreme humour and calm gentle strength.

I have also found myself reflecting upon the need for trust between fellow performers, whether chorus, small role or main principal. Trust is the bottom line on stage - well possibly next to generosity. Indeed the two most generous performances on stage were Those by The Duchess and Don Alhambra, M and I. They allowed excessive humour to happen on the stage whilst they were singing their solos, which in the long run enhanced their moment, but made it more Impossibly difficult to sing and not corpse, and they thus had to share their moment with others. This is a magnificent thing to do on stage.

If we cannot trust our colleagues then communicating is so difficult and this leads on to more shallow and less 3D performances. I remember very vividly a moment in my singing career when, as we all do at times, I had a total dry, I realise now that I had absolutely no idea what was the first line of my big finale aria. My Dandini ( it was Rossini's Cenerentola) squeezed my hand, seemingly even before I knew I had forgotten, turned and looked at me and fed me the words, and as if by magic I simply carried did he know ? Later he said that there was a cast or shadow in my eye which had changed and he instinctively knew.....

This is the depth of knowledge one gains on the short but intense relationship we have with fellow performers. It is unspoken and happens only if we allow it. The bond built up between colleagues is magical and inexplicable in many ways, but I am eternally grateful that I had, and still have that comfortable mystery in my life.

Inez waits all show for her moment, and it was brilliant !

The happy couple together at last !

Centre stage for the Cachuca !

In a contemplative fashion........

Don Alhambra putting up with chaos and mayhem !

The Duchess trying to control the uncontrollable !



Saturday, 18 July 2015

Journey's end .............

Here we are at the last performance already ! Where did the two weeks go ? It has been a tremendous show, full of the most amazing chorus singing and bursting with principal vocal magnificence and hilarious humour !

It was a full house in Eden Court Theatre at Inverness, which gives such a wonderful buzz to the singers - it costs a great deal for an amateur non profit making company to pay the costs for this evening, but this is so greatly offset by the experience of working in the world of Real Theatre for all aspirant professionals and mature (most definitely) non aspirant professionals !

The comedy has grown and evolved through the week run, and we had some very interesting additions to the Duke's dialogue, including references to 'drag acts' and ' rollicking sauce box' in reference to his daughter Casilda ! The audiences have been weeping with laughter..........

The set of lovers are stupendous. Katy and Charlotte as Marco and Giuseppe are the rocks of the show - they stitch together the whole show, keeping all excited and enthusiastic with their sheer joy and fire. The young girls Naomi and Mhairi who at 17 years old are giving such wonderfully poised and professional performances as Gianetta and Tessa, what stars of tomorrow.

The Duke and Duchess, Mark and Morag are stupendous - now I realise the superlatives are on a roll, but it would be churlish not to use them ! The Duchess is solid as the mountain Blaven, keeping what control she can over the Duke and her errant and spoilt daughter, played so beautifully and with such maturity by Ailish, and at only 15 ! Luiz is played by Naomi the second ! She gallantly stepped in at three weeks notice and has worked very hard to learn all the music and moves, and should be very proud of her lively and witty performance. Ian has surpassed himself playing Don Alhambra, is is a big role and needs to be strong and quite sinister. Ian could never be 'sinister', but he is relishing the dialogue about the 'torture chamber'.......

All the smaller roles taken by Muirne, Shadri, Sophia, Pam, Kate and Karen are brilliant. They are so breezy, accurate, and really hold the first 20 minutes of the show together. The three young girls are taking their first ever solo roles, and as so begin their apprenticeship to the Katys and Charlottes of the team.

The chorus, who in my shows are ALWAYS the heart and soul of any show, perform with verve, gaiety and fantastic vocal tone. They are like the most amazing backing group to the principals, and I watch them grow and grow, making so much of cameo characters, but gelling like a solid wall when needed. Sometimes the sound is so spiritually uplifting.

There are those who deny the value and musical wit of Gilbert and Sullivan, and yet many of the greatest British singers were weaned upon this tradition, and have learnt their craft through the medium of G&S. Infact, I, and Inner Sound had amazing news only yesterday. Tom Colwell, our last years' Ko Ko, Pirate King in 2013 and far too many to mention, other roles over the years texted me and said he had just been taken on by an agent, got an immediate audition and within a couple of days has a contract to cover Marcello at English National Opera !

From the Mikado in the back end of beyond, to the national company of the country in one easy side step. Need I say more !


A FIRST ACT MEDLEY............












Tuesday, 14 July 2015

The Gondola has arrived............

It is the first night tonight, and apart from a few tweaks of tempi, and some slicking up of dialogue I am sure we are there! The wonderful thing about a dress rehearsal is that fear factor. All any cast needs is adrenalin - but dress rehearsal adrenalin is much worse that that which is stirred up when real people are sitting in the audience with excitement and expectation. That sort of fear is a positive force most often lifting us to heights we have not yet realised.

The dress rehearsal went as well as it could. Some memory issues in the dialogue, which was nicely covered by Marco and Giuseppe. The best thing to do in this case is to have a 'go to' place so in the worst case scenario of a complete dry by someone, there is a safe haven to which all cast members can leap and thus finish the scene. A real and pregnant silence is the worst thing of all ! So this morning there have been some sorting so of those said 'go to' places !

At this stage finding a balance between giving notes with lots of negatives and simply telling everyone they were 'marvellous, darlings!' is quite a feat ! I will always err on the side of positives and upbeat remarks, making sure the negatives are said, but with the air of ' easily put right', rather than being disappointed and damning ! Actually I felt NO need whatsoever to be cross and grumpy, and infact L and I loved much of the humour, and the flat out chorus singing was wonderful !

Watch this space.........wish us luck with the proverbial broken leg !

Marco having her sash tweaked !

Serious dance thoughts !

Last minute note bashing !


Monday, 13 July 2015

The Gondoliers have almost reached Venice.........

Penultimate rehearsal done and dusted, and to quote the Duke, ' it was remarkably painless' ! I think it was a compliment. I worked the cast very hard from 1 pm until 7.30pm, and a long haul it was, first going over the chorus entrances and exits and some dance moves. I think we have really nailed the Cachucha, and the long 20 minute opening 'List and Learn' is going very smoothly.

Our pianist worked the hardest, slotting into the firmly entrenched speeds which the cast have learnt over the last three months, and finding out all our little musical foibles and noting where extra bars must be added in to allow for costume changes and pizza servings !

The whole looks colourful and sounds strong and vibrant and the set is clean and white with pillars, gondola poles, canopies and flower cart. A festive and sparkly arena for the equally sparkly acting and singing !

There is so much rollicking music in The Gondoliers and they are making the most of those moments. The red, green and white costumes for the Contadine are attractive and flattering for all ages, which is often quite a tricky thing to get right ! The boys are resplendent in gondolier stripes and straw hats. The Duke and Duchess, Casilda and Luiz having clearly arrived on horseback are indeed 'horsing around' quite magnificently. I love the fact that the humour grows and grows like Topsy, and the interplay between our very funny Duke and the two gondoliers Marco and Giuseppe is, even in rehearsal moving off piste in a slightly worrying fashion. I can't imagine how far into the realms of alternative it will have moved by next Saturday !

Two simply gorgeous twin bridesmaids having a ball throwing confetti all over everyone !

The team is gelling, and the magic is happening - the faces light up and the eyes shine. It is a time of fantasy and pleasure when one can forget the world and all its negatives and worries and just live in the moment.

I LOVE it. Well done those singers........