The final day,of auditions came and went yesterday. We made our individual ways to the Guildhall School of Music and Drama which is conveniently attached to the Barbican in the City of London, and gat there in excellent time, so Laurie could relax a little and warm up. The welcome was warm and accommodating, and his needs for lifts etc had been noted and a young man assigned to do the geographical honours.
Having said that, the audition room, which I was afraid might be the one they always use, was one of the few tricky places for him to negotiate. Eight steps down to a tiny space in front of the door to the audition room. It therefore took more time to use his sticks, descend the steps via one handrail, and then re sit in his chair, than it did to sing his first round repertoire ! In fact we were slightly disconcerted that after his Schubert they said, 'Thankyou and we have heard enough', having been told it was two songs for the first round ! The chap who is student welfare, helped him out and up the stairs, as both Laurie and I were a bit despondent and puzzled, then went into the audition room and came out with a great beam on his face and told him that he was more than good enough to progress through to the second round without them hearing anymore singing !
We wound our way back to the foyer and waiting area in a state of relieved jubilation! After a quick cup of tea he was taken with the other candidates to a Workshop for movement, dance and text ?! He was dropped in the deep end and came out 25 minutes later muttering one sentence 'Well that was interesting'......take out of that what you will.
There were only moments before his second round performance as they had kindly put him first so that I could leave early enough to get back for the grand children's Christmas extravaganza. We went in to the room to a panel of three including the charming Acting Head of Voice, and he sang once more his Schubert then they ( just as in Manchester) requested the Vaughan Williams 'Bright is the Ring of Words'. He sang as well as he could sing, after which I left the room and threw him into the lions den for the sight reading and interview. Interestingly this has been the only panel who have actually asked him how he would manage in the building and the surrounds of London on a physical basis rather than musical. I think that was a very sensible thing to ask, as practicality of movement will determine his exhaustion levels for the course.
I have been so proud of him throughout these gruelling few weeks. He has shown such immense courage and determination, and that on top of his musical achievements, which we who know him, tend to assume will be of the highest order. Well done that man !
UPDATE IN LAST FEW MINUTES................ SEE BELOW
I returned home via British Rail, wondering quite how I ever did all that peak time travel pushing and shoving, being squashed and squished by complete strangers, and then managed to teach a long day. Truly, I know for certain I could not do it anymore. By the time I got back to pulborough I felt as if I was delirious with exhaustion.
Rally I did after a few minutes, a very strong tea and some high calorie snacks, as I was heading straight for the Fittleworth Village Hall for two major productions, The Landlord's Cat for Primary 1 - 3, and Toad of Toad Hall for years 4 - 6. In England the primary school enters senior school a year earlier than in Scotland I think.
My 7 year old grandson W, was one of a herd of shepherds in the littlies production. He had had a speaking role last year, and with all the straightforwardness of youth he was remarkably bored this year since he ' had nothing real to say', so clearly he was not totally immersed in the show. I was very amused to notice that when he was suddenly front row chorus, or at least on view, boy he perked up and dug deep for his acting skills! It was a sweet and really very disciplined production of about 45 minutes, for such little people, and knowing how much work goes into shows, I so admire the teachers who crowd control and teach lines to about 50 under 7's. I watched the teacher primarily involved and she had them very much under her educational thumb ! They all knew what to do, when to do it and there was no messing about.
After the mulled wine and mince pie interval the glittering production of The Wind in the Willows got underway. My grandaughter C was Toad - her first ever big role which she won fair and square because of a mighty and magnificent singing audition ! I know I crammed her for it ! It was a very ambitious production and lasted 90 minutes, as long as a G&S opera, with many complicated scene changes. I thought it was magnificent, and our normally quite shy and under confident girl really came into her own. She sings so confidently, and she knew her lines ( of which she had many) and her solos so well, that she had refused all coaching from her dear Mama and Papa, both of whom are singing and music teachers in the highest of musical places !
She wore a mask, as you can see from the photos, so maybe being slightly behind that mask helped her face the public in the first nervous minutes of the show. Anyhow, she was just gorgeous, leading much of the singing, and eventually leading and keeping bang in tune a three part piece for her, Mole and Ratty.
I feel it will have boosted her confidence enormously, and allowed her to relax in such a public situation. She was quite correctly whooped and cheered by her entirely theatrical entourage in the audience, all of whom were shamelessly biased ! She said to me later, 'I heard you laughing Seanmhair, and it was really nice and comforting' - so you see, no embarrassment there at the clique in the crowd !
Well done my darlings. ( All three of you!)
The Guildhall School of Music and Drama overlooking the Barbican and the small lake, an oasis in the City !
Is everybody watching me now ? Good, I'll ACT...........
Full throttle singing from clever Mr Toad
Under the mask
The Final Walkdown
STOP PRESS UPDATE 4.30pm Friday 13th Dec
Laurie just heard a few minutes ago he has a place at the Guildhall ! Hurrah !!!!