Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Audience reviews

I came back down to earth with a bang today and spent the day working. I have been arranging my new song, Warwickshire for the National Youth Music Theatre's new writing cabaret, which, for the record, is happening at St James' Theatre on Sunday 2nd October. Please come. I think there might be two of my songs in the show. Both are from my new musical, Em.

There are other dates for your diary as well. On Saturday 8th October, another new composition is being performed at the Irish Centre in Camden by the Shame Chorus, who are affiliated to the London Gay Men's Chorus. The song I've written is called What Are You Doing? It's a verbatim setting of an account of someone in the chorus' experience of coming out. I don't know the name of the person. I only know that he's Scottish. Perhaps he'll come and introduce himself, or he may decide to remain anonymous. When I work with personal material written by the Fleet Singers, I feel very strongly that they should have the right to remain anonymous. Anyway, my song for the Shame Chorus is funny and up beat... The very antithesis of Brass!!

I did a lot of admin today which included posting some Pepys CDs off to those who have pre-ordered copies. I then did a Skype interview with a really charming and well-prepared blogger called Mat Smith, who is writing about the album. It is always a pleasure to talk to someone who has such a good grasp on what you've been trying to achieve. In the middle of the interview he suggested (in a most friendly manner) that I had an obsessive mind. It was always something which people said about me when I was a kid. I'd immerse myself in a project so thoroughly that I'd almost disappear inside it. I suspect the same is true these days. I do get very obsessed about the projects I'm working on. Mat couldn't believe that we'd genuinely risked our lives recording 200 individual church bells for the Oranges and Lemons project or that each singer in the Pepys Motet had been recorded in an individual booth in the recording studio. Paul Kendall, who produced the album, has posted some images of the pro tools sessions for the project, which look like a giant, colourful mathematical puzzles. The fact that we took every singer in turn and polished their vocals until they shone like glass also seemed to add credence to his belief! Guilty as charged.

We had the "audience club" reviews back from Brass today. People in the audience club get cheap tickets to see shows and, as payment, are encouraged to give little reviews and rate the show they've seen out of five. These are really important reviewers because they're members of the public without any preconceptions of the show. They don't know any of the cast or any of the creative team. Some of the comments were so lovely they made me cry. We were reviewed by 19 people and scored one 3/5, five 4/5s and a staggering thirteen 5/5s. This gives us an average rating of 4.6/5. Pleasing statistics!

My favourite review was somewhat verbose and a little pretentious, but rather beautiful:

"ABSOLUTELY FANTASTIC .... What a difference a day can make. The evening previous I had seen the US musical Children of Eden and there can be no question but that it was entirely dimmed in its own generic cleansing in the edifying face of the thrilling heart of this BRASS - both in terms of the music - which is vividly varied and as far from generic as Cadbury's is from Hershey's - and as clear in its dramatic narrative as another war time musical treatise, Les Miserables is not. Humane treasures enrich the very heart of NYMT's BRASS.

The army of young people - both on stage and blissfully in the magnificent pit - are OUR children and they sing of our forefathers who dreamed and fought for their own Eden. I'm not always in favour of the ubiquitous standing ovations so prevalent in American climbs, but when this very British audience rose - to a man - to their feet in celebration of our own last night, I stood alongside and clapped, cheered and stomped with the best of them.

Brass - and this extraordinary assemblage - not only DESERVE our respect, they - through their artistry - DEMAND our pride. There is no greater gift. Theirs is an Olympian achievement: Make no mistake. Bravi!"

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