At 4pm today, our rehearsal period finally came to an end in Sevenoaks. 50 actors and musicians kissed and hugged fondly then went their separate ways screaming "see you in Leeds" whilst a series of vans filled with props, musical instruments and bits of set, chugged off up the M1.
The day was spent rehearsing the cuts we'd made to the show the night before, some of which remain a little painful, but most of which have really fine-tuned and streamlined the piece. I am continually reminded of a somewhat apocryphal story which gets touted by TV commissioning editors when programmes have to be shredded to fit shorter slots. The story is about a rather famous documentary called Feltham Sings, which was initially intended to be a 90-minute show. Its commissioning editor came into a viewing and said, "this is a wonderful documentary, which ought to make you very proud." The director instantly beamed with joy, but the commissioner continued... "However, if you turn it into an hour-long documentary, it'll win every award going." The piece was cut by 30 minutes and won every award going!
The highlight for me was definitely the completion of the show's sitzprobe. We timed out on Wednesday night, so were forced to rehearse the last four songs today. In the meantime the music team had been rehearsing like busy bees, so everything was hanging really well together. When I realised how well our MD Ben Holder was doing without me breathing down his neck, I deliberately took a step back and avoided listening to any rehearsals of the last song, so that I could hear it sounding as it might in the show.
It sounded awesome. Almost overwhelmingly so. The band are shit hot. The singers are like no ensemble I've ever worked with. And, being brutally honest, the music I've written is bloody marvellous! Obviously I got a little something in my eye, which prevented me from talking to anyone for a while!
A second, rather similar moment, happened when I saw the final sequence of the show on its feet, and the extraordinary work choreographer Matt had done to invoke a battle scene in a ludicrously small space. So moving. Honestly...
We came back to London to a world where we don't get three square meals a day laid on for us, but opted not to prick the NYMT bubble, and instead went to see their tremendous production of The Hired Man, which is stunningly staged and beautifully performed. Sarah, the show's MD is a genius and had scored the piece entirely for actor musicians, all of whom were brilliant. The NYMT can already feel extremely proud of their 2014 season, but they ain't seen nothing yet! The spotlight swings across to us on Monday, and we've set the dial to destroy!