Change of direction…

Denmark Street Management
Denmark Street Management

I took a tough decision this week regarding my representation, and decided to move on from my time at Denmark Street Management.

DSM is a co-operative actor’s agency, which has been in existence for nearly 30 years. It represents and is run by actors working in film, TV and theatre and I have been represented by them for a LONG time!

I want to thank everyone who has been with DSM since I joined for helping, supporting and being my agents, for nearly 10 years. I’ve likened being in a co-op to being part of a family… there are ups and downs, comings and goings, fun times and fraught times, but underlying it all a sense of respect, support and friendship. If you are considering representation you could do a lot worse than considering a co-op, and you would be hard pressed to find a better one than Denmark Street Management.

So a HUGE thank you to ALL my agents over the past 10 years who have given me lots of laughs, the odd tear, and have helped me get work. Thanks to Kathryn Hodges, Lenny Peters, Adam Dunseath, Simon Bridge, Susanna Northern, John Walters, Sam Chapman, Ola Rhodes, Mark Carlisle, Liz Carney, Catherine Turgoose, ย Tom Underwood, Tom Burrows, Jessica Barnes, Sarah Oโ€™Leary, Rebecca Alexander, Stephen John Holgate, the late Stephen Webber, Graeme Messer, Glen Hill, Charlotte Thornton, Dan Maclane, Kerensa York, Julie Addy, Jennifer Mountain, Alistair Scott, Anna Brook, Heather McPake, Richard Roberts… and the current “batch” – Loz Keystone, Alexandre Ross, Robert Hazle, Felix Trench, Michael Keane, Shaun Morton, Pradeep Jey, Mark Middleton, Ian Crowe, Peter Cadden, John Sears, Shannon Rewcroft, Chandni Mistry, Tamar Karabetyan, Rosa Marie Lewis, Libby Liburd, Anna Tarsh, Lynn Robertson Hay and Pearl Marsland.

And onwards to the next chapter…

Lisa Hull Associates
Lisa Hull Associates

 

I’m really excited that I have been taken on my Lisa Hull Associates, a dedicated artist management and theatrical agency representing actors and creatives for stage, TV and film. ย lisahullassociates.co.uk @LisaHullAssoc

I have known Lisa for many years, and we have worked together on numerous shows, recording sessions, and concerts. I am really looking forward to working with Lisa and I’m sure we will have a long, happy and successful working relationship ๐Ÿ™‚

There are already a few things pencilled in the diary for next year, so let’s hope that continues. Bring on the new start!

Where did it go…?

Sunway Lagoon
Sunway Lagoon, Malaysia

Already we’re well into May, and to be honest – I’m not really sure HOW?!!? It seems like it was only yesterday and I was heading off to Thailand following our stint at Sunway Lagoon. It may well seem like yesterday but it’s already quarter of a year since then. BLINK – it’s gone.

The old adage that “The older you get the faster time goes” certainly seems to be true – in my head at any rate. Ronal Riggio explains the phenomena quite clearly here and thinks that the way around it is to

…take advantage of new and unique experiences…

Not always easy I know, but I certainly like the idea of it. And if nothing else, it keeps your mind active!

The WestEnders - The World's Most Popular Musicals
The WestEnders – The World’s Most Popular Musicals

I’m not sure I can claim to be doing anything new or especially unique this week – although the two concerts I’m doing with The WestEnders this week are in new places for me, so I’ll try and embrace that a bit…

I do have an ever-expanding list of “stuff” I’d lie to try; like to learn; like to experience – so perhaps it time I get underway with some of it? Watch this space!

Sarah’s New Year treat…

No – it’s not Sarah trying out some inappropriate 70’s throw back makeup… she decided she should treat herself for New Year and try out a face pack. Well, a woman of Sarah’s age needs to do what she can to keep looking gorgeous ๐Ÿ˜‰

Last week certainly felt like a long one, as it was one of our full “12 shows in 6 days” weeks. We all managed to make it to the end, but I can’t deny that I for one am very much enjoying having two whole days off for New Year! I know – part timers aren’t we?

Doing ‘Dick Whittington’ has been a real education for me in “audience chemistry”. It soon becomes quite clear that size isn’t everything (ooooer!) when it comes to how the audience responds, and to which characters and sections of the show they associate with the most. The clearest cut case is, unsurprisingly, the “schools” shows – where the theatre is filled predominantly with children, often quite young ones. They’re loud, they join in, they love it … but Sarah is a bit of a mystery to them I think! Odd man, dressing up as a woman, with a funny voice and saying stuff we don’t understand. Fair do’s!

Next up the audience ladder is the child-heavy (not heavy child…) matinee audience. It’s families, with their kids. But often quite young kids, and quite young children demand quite some attention! This can understandably distract the parents, so again clever word play and slick delivery …one hopes… can all go for a burton.

The quieter, adult-heavy (hmmm….) audiences suit me the best. They may not be the best at joining in all the audience participation, they may be a little hesitant and shouting at the baddie. But they’re quite good at listening, and seem to get the gags, which warms the cockles ๐Ÿ™‚

I enjoy all the audiences in their own way, and each actor will have a very different take on each audience, so I guess as long as they go away having laughed and enjoyed it …then all’s well that ends well.

So now we head into our final two weeks at the Theatre Royal with a mere 24 performances remaining. We’ve been pretty full right across the Christmas period, but there are one or two seats available for some of the performances… and here is a little “heads up” – all tickets for the 5.30pm shows on the 4th and 12th Jan are only ยฃ12.00! How about THAT for a bargain ๐Ÿ™‚ so get yourselves onto the website here or call 01284 769505 to book before they’re all snapped up.

See you soon…and I promise that Sarah will have sorted her makeup out before she gets back onstage!

Merry Christmas from Pantoland!

I hope you’ve all had a great festive season, and here’s to a happy & healthy New Year!

If you haven’t already been to see us, there’s still time… we’re here until the 15th January…don’t miss out ๐Ÿ™‚

3 weeks down – 4 to to!

Where has the time gone? It’s hard to believe that – with last night’s performance – we have been open for 3 weeks. Eeek! So by the end of Wednesday’s shows next week we’ll be half way through our time here, following Dick & Tommy on their adventures to London and beyond.

We’ve been very lucky with our reviews (is lucky the right word?…) which have been really great. The links to some are just below here, but this is what some of them have been saying:
“The Theatre Royal has put on some fantastic pantomimes over the years and this yearโ€™s production … delivered on all fronts.”
“Dick Whittington proves to be a deliciously devilish start to the festive season…”
“With an opera singing diva dame and tap dancing rats spoofing The Sound of Music whatโ€™s not to like?”

“… this charming rib-tickler of a production…”

“The lasting feeling is one of great warmth and joy, largely down to the uniformly excellent cast…”

“…. the wonderfully warm, intimate and magical pantomime that is Dick Whittington.”
Review in The Stage is here. | Review in the East Anglian Daily Times is here. |  Review on Public Reviews is here. |  Review in the Bury Free Press is here
All in all the reviewers have been very kind to us, and I just hope it reflects the amount of work the creative team, the cast and everyone at the theatre has put into the production. The audience response seems to support that – so we must be doing something right!
The Creative Young Associates at the theatre have been busy too, and created a short “trailer” for the show which you can see on YouTube here
I can’t pretend that it’s all breezy, easy and that I’m not knackered at the end of each day (never mind each week!) but at least it’s a good, hearty, well-earned knackered. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!
We’re performing at the Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds until the 15th January 2012. Still time to treat yourself and come and see us ๐Ÿ™‚

Early start…

Early indeed! Spending my day off back at home is a treat, but getting up before the sun does in order to get back to Bury for a 10:00 a.m. show is anything BUT a treat. Hey ho, the things we do!

We have been open for just over a week now, and the show is going very well, with a great response from the audiences thus far. We’ve had the whole gamut from the morning “Schools” shows, to a quiter, more adult-heavy (not “heavy adult” necessarily!) mid-week show, to the full on “family” shows at the weekend. Each one has been great, but quite different in their turn.

Once the school kids have warmed up, you can be pretty certain it will be a lively, noisy affair. The more mature audience responds quite differently to the gags, falls, kissing and slop – but certainly “gets” Sarah’s one or two double entendre. During one of the weekend shows I don’t think there was a moment in which there weren’t at least a few kids shouting something about Rats…all part of the panto fun I guess!

We have had a few reviews since opening, and they have all been really positive about the show, which has been fab. You can take at look at the online version by clicking the links below:

Whatsonstage.com

thepublicreviews.com

eadt.co.uk

I’ve also had a chance to re-visit a couple of skills I have picked up over the years. We had our BSL interpreted show last week, in which Sarah took the opportunity to have a very brief BSL chat with Ivan (the signer) to find out is name, and very quickly decide he was handsome and that she was in love! Hopefully that’s what she signed anyway…

And at the weekend, we had a few rows at the front of the auditorium peopled with high school students along with their Japanese exchange friends. Not necessarily what you’d think of as your ideal or most receptive Panto-going fodder. No doubt their English is pretty great, but I would imagine a lot of the goings-on in the show would make very little sense (not sure they do to me sometimes!) Needless to say they were a tad unresponsive from the get go. So Sarah took it upon herself to make them feel welcome, and proceeded to have a chat with them in Japanese. I’m not sure whether that made them even more confused…some weird English man, dressed as a woman, speaking to them in Japanese!?! But she seemed to get her message across, and I think the effort was appreciated ๐Ÿ™‚

So it’s off to the theatre for 2 more shows today. There will be some differences happening later in the week – but that’s for another time!

You can follow all the latest bits of gossip from the cast by following the Twitter hashtag #DickWhittingtonBSE. Enjoy!

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!