I am walking very slowly today. System shutdown due to having too many programmes open at once? We are about to start tech for Prodigy at the St James Theatre and the team have just returned from an intense and quite mind blowing week of rehearsals in Sevenoaks, with rewrites every day, up to five rehearsals happening at once and scheduling for the next 24 hours taking the entire lunch break.
Here are some things I will want to remember.. I’m hoping the gang will give me more. Luke leaping out of a box to make everyone jump. Listening to the Elaine Paige show in the canteen with the sound cutting in and out. Bakeoff and microwave mug cakes. ‘Yaayyyas!’ The nutribullet Buffet. Callum the Welsh Housemaid and the coffee machine. Focus, Finley! Chocolate Rice Krispie Squares. Lunchtime with the entire cast on a vow of silence. Standing up to wave cars through on the day we did our warm up on the driveway. Amber, generally, being amazing sorting through music with one hand whilst playing the trumpet with the other. Jake laughing at all his own jokes. Damn Candida!
Rehearsing from 9am to 9pm is quite a thing – even without the added pressure of all going home and living together. Our cast of 27 young people handled the intensity of rehearsal like pros, looking after each other and us, learning to pace themselves, recharge when necessary and find moments in the day to have some space.
I want to talk about the team. Darragh O’Leary I salute and adore you. This man and I have shared a brain for the last month whilst prepping this show – we give the same notes, say the same thing at the same time, eat the same food.. It’s scary. I can leave the room for an hour to take another call and when I come back, he and assistant choreographer Anna Britton have brought something to life in exactly the way I imagined, only better.
Candida Caldicot has led the music department with military precision. Our actor musos have been incredibly well looked after and Candida and the team (Charlie Ingles, Martha Williams) have shown every single person in the room what it means to love and care for the music. An inspirational leader.
Jake Brunger and Pippa Cleary. What is there to say. They are insane. And brilliant, accommodating, determined, quick, full of humour and love for the show and the company. It’s been a huge asset to have you both in the rehearsal room and I should probably apologise for the day I chucked you out of it.
But here’s the most amazing thing about this rehearsal process: even with moments of stress we started and finished as a united family. Time was short – stage an entirely new actor musician show with seventeen musical numbers in eight days? Sure… Run five separate rehearsals at once? Why wouldn’t we..?! This pressure has really shown us all what it means to be a team and to be able to pass the baton between us.
And to our wonderful company – Alex, Amber, Amelia, Ben, Callum, Callum, Caroline, Ciaran, Danny, Dom, Ellie, Eloise, Emma, Finley, Frankie, George, Hannah, Harry, Heather, Izzy, Jack, Jamie, Josef, Laura, Luke, Rachel, Ross, Sammy, Sephora, Sofia, Sophie, Toby, Tom, Tom, Tom – you are bonkers. I’ve never known a more insanely unique group of people. You’ve attacked this project with wit, energy, creativity, boldness and FUN and I can’t wait to see you up on that stage this week. I’m proud, so very very very proud of all of you. Inhale, exhale, kick the box, throw the ball, watch out for battery drain, listen for impulses, play your actions, inhale exhale again and LET’S DO THIS.