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!….”


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 (, 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…

One day more…

Well – we’re nearly there!!

Tomorrow is the last day in the UK for the Azura cast for some time, as we fly out to Monfalcone Shipyard   in the morning of Thursday 18th March, and won’t be back until the beginning of April.

We finished up our London rehearsals on Saturday with a bit of revision of the shows we have learned so far. It was tough week last week, as we needed to prepare a ‘show off’ of Hitsville USA, When Swing was King and also Destination Dance with a new number included (watch out for flying flags… that’s all I’ll say!)

So it was a fairly frazzled cast that said ‘Cheerio‘ to Alford House on Saturday evening, headed home and will be meeting up again at Heathrow at 9.00am on Thursday morning for our flights over to Europe … “Do not pass go; Do not collect £200; Do not enter the Duty Free”!! 🙂

So the next instalment should be from somewhere in Italy – watch this space!

Rehearsals Day 13 – A little bit of Africa

OK. So it is still a bit chilly – hardly some sub-Saharan savannah; nor is it really anywhere near the equator – more like Kennington, but we have been trying to bring a little bit of Africa to rehearsals today. We’re working on the next number in ‘Destination Dance‘, and for much of the day we have been singing Ingonyama nengw’ enamabala – which for those of you who are not fluent in Zulu translates as:

A Lion and a Leopard come to this open place

So there! In case you come on board and see the show, you will now be able to impress you fellow audience members with your vast linguistic knowledge. Definitely something to amaze and astound people with over dinner!

The dancers have been hammering through the numbers in the show, finishing off the Bolero number, a bit of leaping and stomping in the Lion King number, and putting together the final bits of the Irish section. Bless them – they’ve been taking in a lot over the past few days!

As we will be showing the ‘powers that be’ some of the material we covered thus far, we had a good run through our Motown show “Hitsville USA” with Sarah giving us some help and cleaning up what we’d done. And it also gave Neil a chance to have a real go at it, as he missed out on those rehearsals at the start.

So we have a couple of days of cleaning up and perfecting (well, you know what I mean!) the dance show before showing it off and then moving on up to the next one. No rest for the wicked 🙂

Rehearsals Day 9 – Will drive you Maaaaaaad!

Today has been an odd one, it has to be said. More snow traumas for everyone trying to get into rehearsals for a start. It’s tad boring now! And it really makes you yearn to be sailing away on the Azura somewhere warm…. ahhhhh.
Also,  our Ashley has moved onto a different ship (no, not ‘The Great Cruise Ship in the Sky’ – it’s not THAT serious!), so we had our Neil joining us today. Bless them both. But I guess things in life are sent to test you, so you bite the biscuit, pick yourself up, wake up and smell the coffee, knuckle down, buckle under, shake rattle and roll, and weave a tangled web. No… wait – I think I’ve mixed my metaphors somehow…
Anyway. On with the show. Rob is putting the dancers through their paces this week (well, it is the dance show after all!) and we got some time to go over stuff with Neil – as he has a week’s worth of material to catch up with. We’ve got quite a way through “Destination Dance” now, and covered a fair few dance styles already. (Shimmying-around-in-an-oversized-head” style is currently my personally favourite!)
(La, la, la, la, la, laa-la… etc. the guys having a little ‘rest’ after the Can-Can)
Our “scrunchy” vocal version of ‘A Nightingale Sang…’ will be gorgeous (when we nail the lyrics!) and the girls are gliding around behind us – almost literally – and making us look pretty, which is never a bad thing! Should be a lovely moment.
And then they up the ante when Emma & Neil and the rest of the gang with something a little more up tempo. I think we’re busy changing into Laderhosen at that point (don’t ask!)
(Neil & Emma giving us their routine)
We finished off the day with a run-through of everything we’ve done so far on this show. Quite exciting really – until it hits you how much we’ve still got to learn, as we’re only on show 2!! Eeek….

Rehearsals Day 6 – It’s like a Heatwave…

OK – so it’s NOT like a heatwave, it’s still blinking freezing – but anyhow!

Final day of the first week, so we’ve been adding on the choreography for a few numbers in Hitsville USA and smartening up the bits we’ve already learned.

(Here’s Charles and Sara ‘bumping’ their way through “Heatwave”)

Charles has been given a chance  to make use of his long legs, and has been taking over the mantle of ‘dancer boy’ for the girl’s numbers. Lucky him (and lucky them, of course!)

We’ll be moving onto a new show next week, which will be quite weird when it feels like we’ve only just started on THIS one! There’s still a bit more to learn, so we will no doubt be coming back to it again soon… fingers crossed!

(Sara getting the low-down on some of next week’s music from Leigh)

The Dancers have had the day off today (lucky buggers – school trip, hotel stays, exciting “off site pre-production work” (are you getting the idea with that yet?!), meals out, comedy paint effect… for some of them anyhow 😉 Sounds like lots of fun to me – when’s our trip away?

Following the now almost daily trip to Tescos (eeek – that has got to stop!) we spent some time during the afternoon working on the Smokey Robinson section, which gives Ashley the chance to do his ‘thang’.

(If you look closer it’s easy to trace the tracks of his tears, ya know!)

With a quick look at the last number, the whole show is finally coming together. It’ll be fab once we can get the last few bits sorted and try the WHOLE thing. We’ve also been working with some tracks of the original artists, which has been helpful to get the feel of the styles and rifs and ‘interpretation’ – so now we need to do our versions. I am sure they will be definitive… in one way or another!!

And yet again, to end the day, I got over excited by some of the material in the next show – Destination Dance. Admittedly the ‘dance’ bit will not be down to us so much (!) but there are some great numbers in it – and a little bit of comedy to boot… watch this space 🙂

(Charles and Sarah discussing the finer points of the Motown era…)

Rehearsals Day 5 – Reach out for Meeeeeee!!

Us boys got done with Stevie’s section this morning (that’s Stevie Wonder to you and me), in a suitably macho way… well, as macho as we could muster on a Friday morning 🙂 and then we all hunkered down upstairs with Leigh (our MD) to hammer out some more harmonies.
(Some serious (!) work around the paino…)
It’s all very well us thinking we’d learned certain sections just because we vaguely knew the steps and could sing-along, a la Karaoke. But no – we really DIDN’T know them very well at all.
Along with a little uncertainty with the harmonies ran a wee touch of uncertainty over the TUNE of some songs as well.
(“Are you really SURE that’s a G#?”)
It’s a case of hearing the tune from one line in the chorus; thinking “Oh, I know that one…”; then trying to actually sing it and realising what you know was just that – one line of the chorus! Hey ho. All part of the process I guess. It’s great really though, as it means we’re spending time listening to some great classic tracks, which is no real hardship.
Following a quick trip out for lunch, we finished off the last bits of harmony – so in theory we’ve learned it all now. In theory. Wait and see what the revision session tomorrow brings to light!
And of course, as it’s Friday night, we thought it best we pop over to the “local” for a quick drink after rehearsals. Mine was a quick drink, but I left Jerry, Sara and Charles in the Pub… where they may well still be for all I know!
And we’re planning to get t-shirts printed with our respective ‘gender’/’number’/’pertinent comment’ emblazoned on the front… mine would currently be “Boy 1 – I’m smokin'” (don’t ask!), Ashley could be “Boy 2 – Tango” (a visual gag more than anything…) and Charles would be “Boy 3 – [something not to be written on my blog!]” But we’ll see….