A new musical with book and lyrics by Ronald Kruschak and Philip LaZebnik, and music and lyrics by Pippa Cleary.
Presented at the Delfont Room, Prince of Wales Theatre, 29th June 2018.
Musical Director: Mark Collins
Sound: Mike Thacker for Orbital
Stage Manager: Antonia Petruccelli
Produced by Bettina Weyers for Gallissas
PS. After the presentation, I had a lovely chat with a theatre maker from Poland who was keen to understand the logistics of putting together a piece like this. He asked ‘as there was no staging, what does a director do in a performance like this?’
I was in a rush so didn’t answer properly – here’s a list of 50 things I did, just for you Arturo!
- Finding and booking venue for presentation
- Approaching and briefing sound and video team
- Printing. Oh, so much printing. Alas. It’s lucky we did the last workshop paperless as we made up for it this time.
- Looking into charities that plant trees to make us feel better about the paper.
- Hole punching. Glamour.
- Hiring music stands.
- Working out set up in the Delfont Room – which way round!
- Much liaising with producer on what kind of presentation we are doing. Too often there’s a temptation to be ambitious, to show off my excellent staging skills. But in a situation like this it’s generally ALWAYS best to let the audience imagine the action.
- Making a seating/ presentation line up plan for the actors based on who needs to interact and who would benefit from some distance.
DRAMATURGICAL WORK WITH WRITERS:
- Act Two Opening number – planning, brainstorming subject and possible ways in.
- Reorganisation of scenes and songs to put the comedy number further into act two rather than as second song in Act Two.
- Character development work – who is the main character and what is their journey? Like gardening – other characters were worked into minor focus to give way for Sarah’s story to flourish.
- Working to avoid a scene – a song – a few lines – a scene change. Identify where the high points are and pull everything into line to achieve a good shape.
- Reassigning lines for the workshop to characters we’ve already met so that we don’t have to spend a long time setting up characters who are only going to deliver a few lines, if it’s not important whose voice they are in. Sorry, Jack/ Fairy Godmother/ Emperor with no clothes… your lines will be back in when we get to full production!
- Advising actors on clothing choices for presentation
- Deciding when to push and when to put on the brakes (and when to let a cast member have a lie in as I thought she was going to keel over!). Not being afraid to say ‘We need to move on from this now’.
- Realising on day 2 in the afternoon that we needed to musicalise the final scene. Snap decision on whether to identify this to writers or push on and take the easy road. (We let the actors leave early and stayed behind to rewrite the ending into a musical sequence – TOTALLY the right thing to do!)
- Eating Gelato. Well, it was the hottest week of our lives.
- A LOT of very careful talking through page numbers ‘Go to page 99. Add in this page, but cross out the first two lines. Then if you turn over you will be on page 98 but this is 98 for the second time, so let’s call it 98a. Number the next one 99a and then the next page you have which starts with the line from Rumpelstiltskin will be 103.
- Organising and printing music. We didn’t print the whole score for everyone as some actors prefer to work from lyrics and others from music. After rehearsing a number working from iPads, I took orders for music printing and sent those to the print shop to be collected in the next break.
- Cross checking music and script with actors to make sure the correct lyrics had made it into the score.
- Puppet directing. It’s all about where the eyes are looking.
- Cutting down as many stage directions as possible and replacing them with active lines from characters. ‘We’ve been walking through this forest for hours!’
QUOTES FROM REHEARSAL:
- Add ‘Rapunzel’ at the start of the line, so we know who you are talking to.
- Sing through the phrase with no breath as it’s all one thought.
- Wait for the music to change before that line – new music, new topic of conversation.
- All look at Prince Charming when you sing ‘Prince Charming’ for the first time, then we can avoid a stage direction introducing him.
- We need cuts in this scene! The patient is bleeding out on the table… Writerssssss…..?
- Where the line is ‘She’s burned, we have to get to the hospital’ reverse it to ‘We have to get to the hospital, she’s burned’ – so that the audience can get used to the new character first before keying in to the important information.
- Don’t pause halfway through the gag even though that word is funny, drive through to the end and you’ll get a bigger laugh.
- Can you turn the pages for Curtis for this section? He’s got his hand up a frog’s backside…
- Let’s decide which response from the pic’n’mix of happy villager responses we are each going to give, shall we?
- Do we have time for Gelato?
ON THE DAY:
- Writing and giving welcome speech
- Pushing rehearsal through with everyone, noting things that could be fixed later, fixing others as we went. Knowing when to move on.
- Cheerleading. It’s going to be great, it’s going to be great, it’s going to be great. (It was.)
- Feeding actors. Feeding band. Feeding sound department. Feeding everyone.
- Compulsive timing of Act One to see whether our cuts had made us hit our running time target. (They had.)
- Rearranging audience chairs so everyone had a good view – balancing and rebalancing view/ leg room ENDLESSLY!
- Captain of timekeeping.
- Introducing actors to our guests afterwards and matchmaking!
- Lending out all my pens and pencils to the actors. Still waiting for their return..
- Saying thank you to everyone. A lot. Learn everyone’s names, it makes an enormous difference.
AFTER THE PRESENTATION:
- Spreading the word about this amazing new show
- (Currently open on another tab of my computer) Working out casting breakdown, doubling suggestions and what is the minimum/ maximum cast potential.
- Eating more gelato
- Following up with people who attended – and people who didn’t. Finding out who needs a script/ recording/ video archive recording if they missed it.
- Dealing with the sadness that the show will probably go on to full production without me directing it.. Such is the lot of a director who specialises in new musicals!