We love new musicals!

I’m writing this from the Sitzprobe of THE BATTLE OF BOAT – we’ve come to the end of our rehearsal week here at Sevenoaks and are preparing to move into the Kingston Rose next week for tech.

‘WE LOVE NEW MUSICALS!’ has been the chant this week – dealing with the usual exhaustion, exhilaration, joys and challenges of eating, sleeping and breathing the show. Our young cast have astonished us with their levels of professionalism and courage in approaching this difficult material and have risen to the challenge beautifully. Not had enough sleep? ‘We love new musicals!’ Homesick? ‘We love new musicals!’ Favourite line of dialogue cut in a drastic rewrite? A through gritted teeth ‘We love new musicals….!’

This morning, this article has been doing the rounds on social media – a Guardian piece about the working partnership between John Tiffany and Steven Hoggett. I’ve admired their work together for a long time and was fascinated to read about their pleasure in a rehearsal room where everyone is empowered to suggest, experiment and play.

This week has been a giant playtime with ideas flying everywhere. Early on, we told the cast that we would rely on them inventing things and so many ideas have come from them and from the team. Some of my favourites:

  • Our original stage manager Danny Newton found us a huge blue cyclorama to stand in for the sea – we played with it, it behaved like parachute silk, it has a starring role in the show, we refused to give it back and it’s the thing that everyone talks about. Thanks Danny.
  • There are not really any adult characters in the show but we needed to create some larger humans to play small but key roles in a couple of scenes. The cast played with props and costume pieces to create four giant puppets (one of whom has been christened Maurice!) Thanks Cast.
  • One of the songs is about how tedious a school day is. The lyrics are all about times in the day. My genius frequent collaborator Darragh O’Leary (my own personal Steven Hoggett) invented a routine moving in circles, with the cast travelling clockwise and actions like mini second hands. I wish I’d thought of it. But with this team around me I don’t need to! Thanks DOLLY.
  • We have two percussionists, Sam and Callum. I’ve just seen Callum reach all the way over to Sam’s music and turn the page for him as he plays endless and constant quavers. TEAM WORK!

There are so many people to celebrate this week. Heartfelt and huge congratulations to:

Ali, Ana, Andrew, Ashley, Anuli, Bella, Ben, Bill, Brian, Callum, Cameron, Candida, Charlie I, Charlie N, Cicero, Clara, Claudia, Danny, Darragh, David, Diego, Dylan, Ed, Elizabeth, Emma, Emily, Ethan, Florrie, Frances, George B, George O’K, Georgia, Hannah, Harroun, Henry, Jacob, Ian, Jake, Jenna, Jeremy, Joe, Jonty, Jordan, Larah, Lily B, Lily C, Louise, Luca, Lucy, Luke, Marika, Matt, Mihira, Neill, Nick, Patrick, Pippa, Oli, Richard, Rosie, Sam, Sissy, Sullivan, Ted, Tom, Vish and everyone else who in my complicated alphabetised strategy I’ve managed to leave out. Gratitude to you all. Now sleep! See you in tech!