Show Day 1 -“Dick Whittington” Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds

Well…here we are. Rehearsals are done and dusted, and now we’re in the thick of it – 80+ shows to do over the coming 7 weeks.
Along with a final Dress Rehearsal, today was our opening night, and it was a cracker! It made SUCH a difference having an audience – and a great audience at that! The people of Bury were clearly ready for some Panto fun, and they were with us all the way through. Having spent 3 weeks rehearsing the show you are fairly sure you know what you’re doing, and reasonably sure that the show is funny. But there’s just no knowing until people are there laughing at it!
Luckily, they did laugh; they booed; they hissed; they shouted out. All in the right places too (on the whole!)
We have 2 shows tomorrow, and also on Sunday before a welcome (and fairly well earned I think…) day off on Monday. I hope the audiences enjoy themselves as much this weekend as they did last night. There is a lovely blog post here written by one of the Theatre Royal’s “Tweeterati” (!) about our open Dress Rehearsal the other day – take a look. You even get a sneak preview of the finale!

Day 3 (Tech Rehearsals) – “Dick Whittington” Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds

This has to be a quickie….oooh, Missus!

I’m enroute to the theatre for our final day of technical rehearsals. The last three days have gone by in a bit of about to be honest, not a bad blur, just an eyelash, custard, crinoline, wig-wearing blur. Better than being bored though!

Monday daytime was spent working through all the musical numbers, as Peter (the composer) was at the theatre, so he was able to work with Grant (our Musical Director) checking the sound levels, cues, balancing and so on, and ensuring both parties were happy with things.

We also started the process of trying on our costumes so that Will (the designer) and Sarina (our costume designer and supervisor) got a chance to see them “on” and “on stage”. At this point some photographers from the local press and the theatre popped along to take some shots for the paper and marketing etc.

Here’s the first shot of the whole adult cast together on stage. A slightly ‘fabricated’ scenario in which lovers are town asunder, fairies weave their magic, and rats watch on with plague-fuelled devilment! (…something like that!…)

During the evening we began the process of “teching” the show from the top. It’s always a fairly drawn out process as there are lots of things to put together and get right. As at Wednesday evening we have managed to put the whole show togethers technically (hurrah!) and everything seems to work, and to be in place.

We now have a day to do 2 Dress Rehearsals and polish what we have, adding back in some acting! Fingers crossed. We have an open Dress Rehearsal this evening so will hopefully have some people in the audience to boost things a bit…rather vital for panto really. It’s hard delivering lines that start “Ohhhh, yes there is!….”

[silence]

I’m fairly sure that that WON’T be the case from Friday night onwards. If it is, then I’ll wanna know why!?!

Come along and see the show at the Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds – performing 2x shows-a-day, 6 days-a-week, from this Friday 25th November right through until 15th January. Check out all the details on the theatre’s website (www.theatreroyal.org), and follow all the news on Twitter with hashtag #dickwhittingtonbse. See you there!

Day 9 (Rehearsals) – “Dick Whittington” Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds

“Well…that’s Morocco done and dusted!” Sarah The Cook (2011)

And indeed it is. Well, for today anyway! We’ve been working through the show in some more detail this week and by the end of rehearsal today had got to the end of Act II, Scene 2 – which by all accounts is possibly (nay, probably) the longest single Panto scene ever created. Oh yes it is!…Oh no…oh, you know the rest! 🙂

It has been a beautiful day outside (see the proof) and that is perhaps one of the few downsides of rehearsals – or any point in the job when you are required to be inside…you do miss the sunshine. But seeing as it has started to get a tad chilly, perhaps it’s not such a bad thing to be inside in the warm.

With the mega-scene worked through, that just leaves the final scene and the last sections of the show to work through, and then we will be running the show until we get into the theatre next week. There’s still a way to go, and adding on all the technical shenanigans will no doubt be “interesting“, but it’s feeling really good so far. Everyone is
Irving up to their characters, and Colin is helping us create what I think will be a great, fun, and funny Panto. Hope you’ve got your tickets booked?!?

We had the night off this evening, and spent a lovely time on our first official “Company Outing”. Hurrah. We congregated in a local hostelry and then wended our way to a nice restaurant in Bury. Good food, good company, good conversation and variable levels of alcohol intake! (None too extreme I should point out…)

Let’s see who is the tiredest for tomorrow’s rehearsal…

Day 4 (Rehearsals) – “Dick Whittington”, Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds 2011

I think it is safe to say that writing blog pots at the end of the day is really not ideal…there is just a tad too much “stuff” flying around your brain after a long day of rehearsing to even string a coherent sentence together, never mind write about it all! Maybe I should consider writing them first thing in the morning and see how close I get to what actually happens during the day. Hmmm, a thought! 🙂

We’ve had another couple of fairly full but productive days in the rehearsal studio, with. Number of the “set piece” sections being tackled…I’m sure you’ll know the type of thing…suffice to say there is noise, mess and whole bunch of gags thrown in.

We’ve also been working through the remainder of the musical numbers with Grant, and polishing the ones we know (or rather ‘should’ know) as well. Lee has been putting the musical numbers ““on their feet” such as the one that I took a snap of today – Hannah (Alice Fitzwarren), Tony (Alderman Fitzwarren) with Martin & Vivky (Fitzwarren’s shop assistants) discussing various virtues of each favoured method of “rodent control”. Another great number written Peter White.

Of course ALL the numbers are great, and there’s a mixture of well healed tunes that people will already know (with our twist put on them of course…I mean, any of Sarah’s “operatic” renditions could well be described as ground-breaking, if not definitive!) along with all the songs that Peter has written for this production. As a bit of an MT luvvie, it’s much more interesting working with new material…just like being in a musical. Hurrah!

And so…onwards! Act II is well under way now, and we will have blocked the whole script by the end of play of Friday. In theory! We’re all praying we manage to hold it together until we’ve done a run-thru on Saturday…we may get some time off for good behaviour 🙂

(…and watch out for more posts on Facebook and Twitter…there may well soon be a new addition to my I.T. family…)

Day 2 (Rehearsals) – “Dick Whittington”, Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds 2011

Another long day. Another tiring day. But another fun day too – so that’s OK! 🙂

We started work today at the top of the script – “let’s start at the very beginning…” – and worked through the first two big scenes, along with setting more of our dance segments to boot.

During lunchtime, we took a little ‘school trip’ up to the theatre to take a look around. It is a beautiful auditorium, and looks like an exciting space to work in. You can find out a bit more about the theatre here. We won’t be actually rehearsing there until our at week of rehearsals, nice we start “tech-ing” (technical rehearsals) and Dress Rehearsals.

By that point in the production process there will be so much going on…set being built and fitted, lights being rigged and plotted, costume being fitted and tried out, sound system and mics being checked, and a slew of other things …that there won’t be much opportunity to appreciate the place.

So we appreciated it today! Here’s a little pic of the auditorium and some of the guys on stage getting their first look at our new home for the next couple of months.

We are spending the evenings rehearsing the numbers that our “young cast” members are involved in (children from a local dance school) so if you were to pass the rehearsal room around 9.00pm you find a group of energised and focussed performers being put through their paces…

….and then you’d see us. Slightly bleary eyed and wilting, desperately trying to keep up with the kids, and remember all the things we learned this morning! Ah, the joys of Panto rehearsals! 🙂

And so to bed.

And don’t forget, if you’re on Twitter, you can follow some of the Cast & Creative Team’s tweets #DickWhittingtonBSE. See you there!

Day 1 (Rehearsals) – “Dick Whittington”, Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds 2011

Well. That’s Day 1 done and dusted, over and out. Phew!

The drive down to Bury this morning was a bit hairy, with the A14 being a bit of trial (I’ve since been told that it is like that most mornings…..eeek!) but, no matter- I arrived in plenty of time. Grabbed a coffee and headed into rehearsals.

We are rehearsing at the Guildhall in the centre of Bury St Edmunds – a grand old building, with rooms full of prints featuring the great and the good of Bury’s past. No doubt they have witnessed some things in their time…I’m sure this next couple of weeks will not let them down!

We had a “meet & greet” to start the day with the gathered masses introducing themselves and their roles in the production, and the Will – our production designer – showed us the model for the set design, which looks amazing. Beautiful design and it really makes use of the space at the theatre…which can be a little limited in the wings!

Sarina – our costume supervisor – went through some of the design pictures for the costumes, including a few of the one that have been made for name by the students at the Arts College at the University of Bournemouth. Here’s a sneak preview of a couple. They’re in their unfinished state, but I’m really excited about them – they’re going to be great 🙂

Leading up to lunch we had a “read through” of the script, so we got a chance to hear each other and get an idea of characters and how it all works for the first time. Lots of laughs (which has to be a good thing for a panto, no?!) and Peter White (the composer) filled in all the blanks with the great songs he has created for the show. Not bad for a morning’s work?

The rest of the day was spent working through lots of the musical numbers and and starting to get some of the dance numbers (I use the word ‘dance’ fairly loosely in Sarah’s case!) underway.

So. It’s going to be brilliant, and lots of fun. But I sense a few fairly long days coming our way!

Just 15 more rehearsal as to go, and counting…