Friday, 2 November 2018

Sitz ahoy

It’s been a long old week. Yesterday was our last day in the rehearsal studio, so, from now on, everything happens at the Bernie Grant Theatre. The cast are ready and raring to go, so I gave them all a day off before the “sitz” tonight. Sitz is short for “sitzprobe” and it’s one of the most exciting parts of any theatrical voyage, as it’s the first time the cast get to hear the musicians. It’s obviously more scary than exciting for me personally, because these are all new orchestrations, which I’ve not heard before. The band are rehearsing as I write but I’m staying away. No MD wants the composer breathing down his neck in band rehearsals, even if the composer is the director!

I had another nasty-ish accident last night. I was a little shocked and have a few cuts and grazes on my hands, arms and legs but I’m fine. The workmen, who have literally turned the house upside down, managed to break one of the wooden steps running up to the entrance to our flat on account of using the staircase as a basis for a whole scaffolding rig which gives them access to our roof.

The step has essentially broken in half, but instead of replacing it, they’ve got a 2” plank of wood and placed it over the damaged step, thereby making one of the steps 2 inches taller than the rest. Obviously we’re more than used to the feel of our steps, but because we don’t have a motion-sensor light, the staircase suddenly became a health and safety catastrophe last night. In the process of preparing myself to squeeze through the scaffolding on the steps, I lost my footing on the broken step and stacked it big time. It really was most unpleasant. It’s amazing how many parts of your body hit the deck when you go down in that manner!!

I went to see the first preview of Brass at the Union Theatre on Thursday night. It was a little mean of me to go to that performance, but my mate Matt was going and I realised there were limited options for me to see it before my own production kicks off.

The cast were wonderful. There are some brilliant performances and some lovely touches. It’s a difficult and long piece, however, and I think perhaps the creative team underestimated how long they’d need to get things together. I was a little surprised by some of the cuts they’d made, some of the tempi they’d opted for, and some of the parts of the story they’d omitted or not coaxed out of the material. The problem with Brass is that it tells a love story which is quite deliberately underwritten, so unless actors commit to the subtext and you find visual beats to bring these aspects out, you can get half way through act two before you realise what’s going on! The joy about a set of previews is that you have time to hone the material a little, so there’s more time to play. I remember the previews for Taboo. We were changing things all the time. Songs and lines were being cut and coming back in left, right and centre. It was all go.

I’m currently making my way down to Southwark to do a radio interview about Brass, before heading back north to Tottenham. Call me a yo-yo.

It was the tenth anniversary of Coventry Market The Musical yesterday and I did a quick interview on BBC Radio Coventry and Warwickshire. I still remember the premiere like it was yesterday. They’d put out an enormous red carpet so that everyone could walk from the indoor market itself to the place where they were showing the film. It felt like the whole of Cov had turned out to cheer us all on. It was one of the proudest moments of my life, and I only wish my Grandparents, both Coventrians, had still been alive to see me celebrating the city which had meant so much to them. Harry Hill, who regularly parodies the film on his shows, did an interview before me. He is, apparently, really fond of it. I rather like that the film has followed me about through my life and that people continue to discover its tatty, tongue-in-cheek magic!

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