Rehearsals Day 35 – How lucky can one boy be?

We ploughed headlong into our new show yesterday – so another gear change!

(Scott, George, Daniel & Emma blow off some steam on the Table Football before the show-off)

We finished off some cleaning on ‘Blame It On The Boogie’ before showing it off to the assembled masses. It’s quite a fast-paced show, so I think everyone was fairly knackered by the end of the run… hey ho, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger!!

Yesterday saw the start of ‘When Swing Was King’ – our next show which is – yep, you guessed it! – a Swing show πŸ™‚ Jerry is choreographing us for this one, so it was nice to see him back again – as our first week spent with him working on ‘Hitsville USA’ seems like a lifetime ago now. (That reminds me – we haven’t finished learning that one yet!)

(It’s a cold day – you can tell by the queue for the coffee machine! Charles, Neil & Sara looking rather sheepish if you ask me…)

This one is packed full of all the classic swing / Rat Pack songs that you’d expect and a few surprises too – some great arrangements of songs you wouldn’t expect in a swing show. Don’t worry – you’ll be pleasantly surprised… trust me!

It looks like it will be a very classy evening (well, what else did you expect!) and it’ll be really cool having the band on stage with us for this show too. A big benefit of having quite a few different shows to present is that there’s a good variety. A real SmΓΆrgΓ₯sbord (and yes – I did have to Google the spelling!!) of styles and content so there’s something for everyone. Crikey – sounds like marketing pitch…!

Rehearsals Day 30 – Saturday morning feeling

I managed to arrive about an hour early for work this morning, so find myself sitting in Starbucks with Sara preparing for the day!

There is a slight air of “end of the week” today – aching, tiredness, lack of ability to form proper sentences… but it’s all good. Day off tomorrow for a battery re-charge.

(Skinny Latte, Skinny Muffin, Skinny Mac!)

Rehearsals Day 29 – When will I see you again?

How did that happen?? Day 20 to Day 29? I can assure you it isn’t because we HAVEN’T been rehearsing – far from it!

Let me do a quick recap – Day 20 was our “show off” for ‘Destination Dance’ with a wee bit of ‘Hitsville USA’ thrown in for good measure.
(Richard explaining some moves to the guys)
We arrived in the morning to be presented with a few props, costumes and bits of set to work with during the run – which added to the panic factor a little! But it went smoothly enough, and we had a little re-cap session with Richard at the end of the day to get our heads back into ‘New York City Rhythm’ which we dived back into on the following day.

Day 21 (“in the Azura House” ) onwards we carried on working with Richard putting NYCR on it’s feet.
(Charles & Neil giving Sara a boost in ‘Native New Yorker’)
His choreography is fab, exciting and quite complex, and eminently frustrating when you can’t get it right!! But it is often the case that when you let go of the stress of trying so hard to get it right, it falls into place. So once it’s there, it’s there πŸ™‚

Monday this week – Day 25 – was our “show off” for NYCR, which seemed to go well enough.
(Scott, Dom & Dan giving it macho!)
As these are all brand new shows, we’re quite aware that there will no doubt be some changes and alterations – probably right up to the first time we perform the show for the passengers, but that’s fine – all adds to the excitement.

And now? Well now we’re about halfway through ‘Blame It On The Boogie’ which is – have you guessed yet? Yep – a whole heap of 70s!! So we’re funking it up with the Bay City Rollers, The Drifters, The Nolans, The Who… you name it. All held together by Charles’ multi-character DJ. I’m just looking forward to the platforms and flares… can’t wait πŸ™‚

Rehearsals Day 10 – Everything’s upside down

Mainly Sara, Scott & Neil as it happens! I feared for a short time that it was going to be me – but managed to persuade Rob that my talents would be much better employed dangling poor Scott by his ankles, head-first over the floor.

Scott and Neil were being dangled (Daniel was being Neil’s ‘dangler’!) in our number from ‘The Producers’. It’s fab doing a number from a show you’ve been in, and seeing done in a different way. There may not be any Adolf Pigeons in this one, but there’s a few surprises… of course including Valerie!

The next bit of “upside down” work was from our very own Sara, who was held aloft by Scott and Daniel for what seems an age during the Jive number – yes, another dance! If the look on her face following the ‘dismount’ was anything to go by, she had a whale of time!!

Charles & I spent the rest of the afternoon bombarding poor Neil with music and choreography from Hitsville USA, so he has a slight head-start when it comes to learning it. Yes, so what if it brought on a headache – it’s all worth it πŸ˜‰

Rehearsals Day 8 – Scrunchy

That’s a reference to our harmonies – and nothing to do with our costumes (I hope…).

We spent the bulk of today revising the work we’d started with Leigh yesterday on ‘Destination Dance’, and on our close-harmony ‘ Nightingale’ – which is going to be awesome (even if I do say so myself!). Dominic is involved in this one, with Steph, Sara and myself. So we disappeared off and learned our individual lines separately and then slowly built it up, adding each of us until we were all in the mix. And it’s fab; and tight; and scrunchy – mmmmmm!

The dancers had been working on the next number to follow the carnivalistic (I believe I may  have made that word up!) opening, which is a slightly sexier one – you’ll have to wait and see what it is. Needless to say,  Valerie is once again doing her special ‘thang’, and the boys are doing their utmost to keep it sexy. No comment.

Rob asked us to take a look at the finale of the show (which involves the stuff the dancers had been working on during their trip away… and no I’m not bitter) which will eventually involve all of us flinging our legs – but I may be foregoing the pleasure in this case, and leave it to the youngsters. We’ll see… perhaps I may be flown in for it… πŸ™‚

For some reason, I didn’t take any snaps today – so I’ll try and remedy that tomorrow.

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 πŸ˜‰ 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 πŸ™‚

(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 πŸ™‚ 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….

Rehearsals Day 4 – Signed, Sealed, Delivered

With More Snow. More late trains. More Dancing. More Singing. Apart from the first two, what more could you want from a day!

With the dancers away on their “pre-production” mission (- don’t ask me about it, because if I told you I’d have to kill you! -) we had Alford House to ourselves today, and got down to it straight off the bat. Most of the material we’d worked on during Tuesday had stuck… with just a few ‘pointers’ needed from Jerry & Sarah.
(Ashley & Charles discuss the finer points of Motown, whilst Sara and Sarah bevel their socks off as the Supremes)
Steph & Sara took over the mantel as they ‘became’ the Supremes for their section, so we boys hid away in another room and howled through the new BVs and harmonies we’d got yesterday. Perhaps ‘howled’ is a little unfair πŸ™‚ To give the girls a breather, and Steph the chance to head off to be a wicked queen, the boys began making friends with Mr Stevie Wonder’s material on the dance floor. I’m sure he’d be impressed!!

Slightly scary is the fact that we only have 2 days left this week, and will need to have basically completed work on Hitsville USA, to be ready to move on to your “next” show on Monday. But exciting too, as it means a whole load more new material to work on. Bring it on, I say.

Oh – and although this won’t mean much to many of you, today – for the record:
Ashley: “No way”
Jerry: “Ask me again in 6 months”

I’ll explain this another time!

Rehearsals Day 2 – Dancing up a storm

I must admit to being a little but “achy” this evening, following a good solid day of dancing. OK – maybe even more than a little bit, but it’s a good ‘ache’. Clearly my “youthful” outlook on life is not one shared by my ageing body! But it’s all good exercise, so I can’t complain.

(Here’s Steph taking a bit of a breather…)

We spent the best part of today working with Jerry (one of the choreographers who is working on the shows with us) on the first section of one of our ‘singers’ shows “Hitsville USA“. It’s a FAB collection of songs from the 60s & 70s with a Motown influence- with some stuff from the Jackson 5, Stevie Wonder, The Supremes, Martha & the Vandellas, and a whole load more to boot.

We revised our vocal stuff first thing just to get our heads back into what we’re learned yesterday. Yes, it may LOOK like sitting around, texting, gossiping etc., but it was in fact singing! Honest πŸ™‚

(Charles giving us his “Buttercup” while Ashley & Sarah look on…)

There’s plenty of the show still to learn, but we got through the first medley of songs, with a fair amount of dancing for a group of “singers”! I even managed to get appointed “Funk Dance Captain” – who’d have thought… if you want the proof, you’ll have to come onboard and see the show πŸ˜‰

(Ashley & Charles holding court … discussing lyrics no doubt!) 

So – it’s a hot bath tonight I think, as there may be a whole load more of the same tomorrow. And then another 7 shows to learn after that… easy. Bring it on!