Saturday, 13 February 2016


I spent the morning running NYMT auditions. I was only able to attend one session and we had some wonderful kids. It's really hard to make decisions about who to recall. When all the first round auditions have finished I think we'll have recalled 100 actors for just twenty roles. 2000 or so people have auditioned this year, most of whom have been absolutely brilliant, but my calculations suggest there's just a 1 in 100 chance of getting a role in the show. The sadness, of course, is that most of the people who audition are by far the best performers in the schools and drama clubs they come from. They are used to being heaped with praise and having their choice of roles, so not even getting a recall may come as something of a shock to them. I remember my brother once talking about the difficulty the bright kids from comprehensive schools had when they got to Cambridge university and discovered there were hundreds of other students who were as bright or brighter than they were. It's a horrible thing when you discover for the first time that your own star doesn't shine quite as brightly as you'd hoped.

I went from the auditions to King's Cross where we had the Sitz Probe for Beyond The Fence. A "Sitz" is the first time the band meet the singers of a show. Everyone is usually seated and the show is sung through. It gives everyone the first sense of what the show is all about - musically speaking. Singing new material with a full band is a very different experience from rehearsing with a pianist. The headline response was that the cast hadn't realise the music was going to be as rocky as it is. It's the first time I've written a proper rock score, so I suppose it's new territory for me as well. I'm proud of myself.

The rehearsal was a somewhat bitter-sweet experience. There are still lots of dodgy corners which make me nervous, but I was hugely relieved that everything hung together and that the cast seemed to be lifted and inspired by what I'd written.

Thank God for Llio who spent the whole rehearsal giving me the thumbs up and gestures of approval. The show's orchestrations are the only part of this entire process which no one can take away from me. No computer process is or can be listed as co-orchestrator, so a little part of me crumbled when everyone but Nathan and I got publicly thanked afterwards. It was an oversight of course. It shouldn't matter and if I weren't exhausted and hadn't nearly killed myself doing the orchestrations, I wouldn't have given two hoots, but I genuinely wanted to slope off and hide this evening. It's easy to think of me as a somewhat bombastic, perhaps arrogant individual, but underneath the bluster is someone who's handing art to the world - and that's one of the most vulnerable things you can do.

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