Hello from the other side
“Sing. Sing. Sing!” It’s a common scream from musical directors, who having spent weeks, even months teaching intricate harmonies find themselves bemused by the fact that the chorus are all either singing the tune or not even singing at all while practising the latest four minute dance routine. It seems inexplicable that when everyone was sitting down in the comfort of a vocal re-cap evening everything just sounded perfect….
The trouble with most musical directors is that they just don’t realise just how much work and talent it takes for everything to come together. I suppose what is really needed is for the musical director to actually take himself away from his keyboard and try it out for himself.
As a musical director of around 50 SMP shows since joining the group in 1992 every so often I get the urge to cross the line onto the other side. What exactly possesses me I really don’t know. As someone who really is an insult to left feet I perhaps forgot that I would need to be involved in a number of chorus numbers. Perhaps I thought I’d got away with it in this show when given the two choice parts of a brutal Yorkshireman and a Scottish Enchanter, neither of which require any singing or dancing.
Not so lucky, I’m afraid. The normally sensible choreographer, the very wonderful Fay Kemal, had other ideas and I find myself trying to keep up with everyone in a series of exciting and vibrant dance routines. I have tried to excuse myself by telling myself that I am the oldest member of the cast. But that actually isn’t the case. Steve Jones, another talented musical director, is actually older than me. I must admit that he makes a much better fist of our latest Riverdance routine than old clodhopper Mikey B.
Now that I am on the other side, I see things in a completely different light. I see amazing people who not only pick up dance routines but who also remember reams of words and harmonies. But that is what makes SMP so special. Over the years we have established a group of people dedicated to producing quality shows that makes all the hard work seem so worthwhile.
Well it’s now just a month to opening night and the show is beginning to take great shape. On Wednesday our exuberant Musical Director Stuart Piddington-Wall took us through recaps of many of the big chorus numbers. On our long Sunday rehearsal we worked on the finale and then did a run through of Act II. We are now just beginning to work without scripts and you can visibly see the characters and scenes really taking shape. I think our talented director Paula Bland was actually quite pleased, especially as it was really clear that the vast majority of the cast were dancing beautifully and singing their hearts out. Of course there was one old git at the back stumbling his way through the routines and mumbling his way through the vocals.
Yes, it’s a little different from the other side.
Fortunately there’s still plenty of time for me to catch up with everyone else. Even better news is that there’s still plenty of time to buy tickets….
You can book your tickets here: