Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Ali Pali, Llio and stuff

This week I've been finding out what it feels like to be a commuter in London, and I don't like it one little bit! Journeys home on the tube are particularly awful. With every stop further north, fewer and fewer people seem to alight, whilst more and more get on, until you can't possibly imagine how a carriage could be any more crowded. There's so much anti-London sentiment in the rest of the country. I've no doubt now that our entirely broken infrastructure is the reason why all Londoners are stand-offish and so profoundly incensed that everyone else seems to think we have it so easy. By the time I got home, I looked like a soggy old sponge.

I've been at Trinity all day with the group of students who are working on excerpts from the Lady Killers musical. I'm really rather impressed by what I'm witnessing, and genuinely not feeling the need to intervene too often. The students are working harmoniously, taking risks and achieving great things. Lawrence has written some really lovely music. Catchy tunes. Fabulous jazz sequences. It's being performed by a band of fourteen very high-calibre musicians who are, in the process of rehearsing, taking steps into the crazy world of actor-musicianship. Some have proved to be more convincing actors than others. I gave them all a talk today about looking self-conscious, but, as someone who did a straight music degree, I know exactly which world they come from, and it's one where hiding behind a music stand feels like the safest place to be. We're also working with some of the students on the opera course, whom, though great actors, are a little lacking in conventional stage craft. It's difficult to know how to address a fundamental issue like this in such a limited rehearsal period when there's so much else to do.

Obviously, with so many live musicians, and a massively boomy rehearsal space, we're having some issues with sound (problems with sound in a musical? Get away with you!) but we did a run tonight and have all day tomorrow to rehearse, so they're bang on schedule for a day of finessing and refinement. 

I'm pleased to say that Lawrence took my advice when I suggested recording the three songs we're working on in a proper studio. We're doing that on Friday and it will almost certainly provide everyone involved with something they can feel proud of long into the future. I emerged from York University with a single cassette recording of a few compositions I wrote whilst studying. It was this tape which got me my first professional gig with Arnold Wesker, and from then on I've never looked back, always placing recording my compositions right at the top of my creative agenda. You can never take a recording away from someone. A live event is film-flam by comparison.

I spent the evening with Llio who is singing a song from Em at the next MMD cabaret. She's going to do it beautifully if tonight is anything to go by. We got a bit hysterical at one point because she handed me a cup of tea, and in the process of putting on the table next to me managed to pour half the cup of tea she was holding in her other hand directly into my bag. It was like one of those scenes in the farces where someone viciously pours custard into someone's hat and then forces them to put it on!

I came home via the road which goes all the way up to Alexandra Palace. It's a really steep climb but the view from the top is as good as any in London - possibly in the world. At night you can see hundreds of thousands of city lights stretching into the distance. It's not the nicest place to be after dark, however. Gangs of Greek and Turkish lads go there in their cars to look threatening, snog, smoke pot and generally reenact scenes from the movie, Grease, or, in their case, one assumes, Greece. There's a vibe of lonely lawlessness up there. On a summer's night, there's often a sense that you've entered someone's turf who doesn't want you there.

It's all go this week. I'm knackered!

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