Rehearsals for Peter Pan have been continuing, and the show is coming along very well. Rehearsals are well advanced and we open in just under a fortnight. This show my role is not very large and I didn't feel that I had to make a very great effort to learn my lines. Unlike Snow Queen the Narrator's part is relatively small - I just have to step on every now & then, say a few lines, then step off again. I stay in character the whole show, again unlike Snow Queen - no swapping in and out of other roles, and no costume changes.
Our director, Shaun, has been very positive, and justifiably so - the show is coming along very well.
We're now heading into the final week of rehearsal, then tech week. Opening on the 13th!
We've now had the first two rehearsals for Peter Pan, the first regular rehearsal last Thursday, and the first music rehearsal today. The show is a fairly new adaptation of the Peter Pan story and not the original play, or even the musical version which Sophia has been in before.
First, the casting. The cast is quite large for an Arts theatre show (at least, for the ones I've been in), with large & distinct groups of Lost Boys, Pirates and Indians. The Lost Boys in particular are quite numerous - six of them, plus Peter, John & Michael. Also slightly surreal, as all the lost boys are girls. Not to mention that we opened today's rehearsal by singing "Happy Birthday" to Courtney, our Peter Pan AKA The Boy Who Never Grew Up.
There are only a four males in a cast of twenty-four. Apart from me (the narrator), there is Craig Brown as the Indian Chief, Connor Clarke as Mr Darling, and John O'Connor as Smee. All the rest - Peter, Hook, all the rest - are girls.
The show is a fairly short one. According to the script the expected running time is just 45 minutes, but Shaun says that he will expand on that as much as he can. Most of the songs are pretty short, but the plan is to make more of them. One we practised today, for example, is written as a single (short) verse, but our music director made it into a round, thereby making it longer and also more atmospheric. Similarly, there are a number of fight scenes; Shaun says that he will make these as big and exciting as he can manage.
Last Sunday the girls got me to take them to audition for the next Arts Theatre production. This time around it is Peter Pan, done as a musical. Sophia, Felicity and Acacia all auditioned, and when we got there I decided I would also.
This is not as silly as it might be. Since the start of last year I have been abstaining from theatricals on account of my part time study - I began a part time Masters degree last year which is due to be completed at the end of next year. Doing a show on top of that means two very large commitments which can't be catered for, realistically. Last year I kept to that until the very end, when I got snagged into the production of A Christmas Carol when someone dropped out. This fit in very neatly, as I did not join the production until after I had completed my first exam.
For Peter Pan the situation is a little different. I am currently on study leave and have just one exam this time around (the other subject is by 100% assignment, and I handed that in on Monday). Rehearsals will be in the between semester period or early semester and the season ends half way through semester, well before things get too intense study-wise. That's the theory at any rate; now to see how it works in practice.
So how did it go? We danced, we sang (I did Poisoning Pigeons, Sophia sang I Don't Do Sadness, Felicity I Just Can't Wait to be King), we read the script. I read for Hook and for the Narrator, Sophia for Peter Pan, and I can't remember who Felicity read. The upshot is that I have been offered the Narrator's role, and the girls chorus parts - Sophia an Indian, Felicity a Pirate.
First rehearsal is Thursday - will know more then.
Second rehearsal for A Christmas Carol on Saturday, and a chance for me to learn a few more of the songs and go over some of the blocking. As Marley's ghost I have my own song as I've already mentioned, but I also take part in a few other scenes. One of these is Fezziwig's ball, where the whole cast sing a song while dancing a suitable dance.
Now, normally I don't do particularly well in stage dances. Things like we had at the end of The Snow Queen last year, with their box steps and crocodile walks & what not, leave me cold, and I have great difficulty remembering the steps and getting them in the right order. Thankfully, this dance is not like that. This time it is simply a nineteenth century style folk dance. Intricate in its way, but much more straightforward & easier to learn that the other sort. I was taught the steps and we practiced the scene on Saturday, and I was very pleased to pick it up pretty quickly. One of my dance partners even told me I was better at it then the fellow I'm replacing, which was nice of her (especially if true).
Also enjoyable was the song that went with it - a Shane Daly original in the style of the time, catchy and very singable. Shane has attempted to write some earworms for this show (songs that go in your ears and wriggle around inside your head such that you can't dislodge them) and I think he's succeeded with this, and one or two of the other songs.
Just got home from my first Christmas Carol rehearsal tonight, and was pleased to see a lot of familiar faces. Paje the director, of course, and Shane Daly the music director, Mia the stage manager I knew about, but when I walked in I immediately spotted Richard Murphy, who was our Cervantes/Don Quixote in Man of La Mancha. Richard is playing Scrooge, so he & I got to go over the Scrooge and Marley scene. Also there were Craig Brown from Rock Nativity - he's Bob Cratchitt. Bella from La Mancha is Mrs Cratchitt, Scott from La Mancha is the Ghost of Christmas Present, Tim Gawn is one of the younger Scrooges, and also the ghost of Christmas Future. A lot of folk I don't know (especially the younger Cratchitts - six of them!), but at least I know a few of the cast.
I got my script and rehearsed the Scrooge & Marley scene, which is my big scene of the show. I have a song in the middle of this; Shane taught me the song. There will be other songs to sing; I'll go over them on Saturday most likely.
Off to a good start. But - only three weeks until it opens!
This year I've been pretty slack about posting here. Not that there's been nothing to talk about, but it would have been all work- and study- related. This year I've been doing a part time Masters degree at QUT, aiming to gain a Masters in Science, majoring in statistics. This will take three years part time. ATO is being very generous about it, paying my tuition, giving me time off for lectures and swot vac. I'm now at the end of semester 2 (first exam this afternoon).
Of course, this takes up a lot of time with lectures, study & assignments, which means that I have had no time for shows. Earlier this year I did look long & hard at one that Brisbane Arts Theatre is putting on - a musical version of "A Christmas Carol". Alas, although the season is November/December it had the usual (heavy) rehearsal schedule through the end of semester 2 & swot vac and I just could not do it justice.
However - Monday night, when I went to pick up Sophia from her rehearsal (she's in "The Life and Adventure of Santa Claus", opening this Saturday) Susan O'Toole was waiting with the girls and told me that someone had pulled out of "A Christmas Carol" at the last minute, and might I be interested? I said that well, I had an exam or two but yes, I might (definitely!). The long & the short of it is that I'll be in the show with one bigger part (Marley's Ghost) and a couple of smaller ones. At this point I know very little else about it.
My first rehearsal is this evening, right after my first exam this afternoon.
Last week I clocked up my 100th donation at the Blood Bank. I started donating blood back in 1983 in my last year at Uni, and have kept it up since then. For most of that time I've been a little irregular. Mostly I donated where I worked, but since I worked in North Sydney and then North Ryde for many years there was no blood bank nearby, so I had to rely on when the mobile blood bank came around. This was good, but if I happened to be sick that day I had to wait another three months before I could donate again.
This changed when we moved to Brisbane in 2003. For the first time in my life I was working in a CBD, and the Blood Bank was close & handy. I started donating plasma and platelets, which allows for much more frequent donations. Whole blood can be donated every three months, but plasma can be donated every fortnight.
This is not to say there haven't been glitches. I've had a couple of times when my iron reserves (as measured by my ferratin levels) have been low, and have been suspended from donating several times. The last time the Red Cross got me to check myself out to make sure there was no medical cause - endoscopy & colonoscopy & such, but nothing was found.
As mentioned I had top play a female role in The Snow Queen, as the robber chief in act two, but I wasn't the only one of the family who had to cross dress.
Sophia and Felicity and Acacia were all men - manly men - at the royal palace. This is mostly due to the severe shortage of guys in these sorts of shows. Here, Sophia (on the left) is Prince Erik, a part she filled excellently well. She is talking to the palace guards - Acacia (in the middle) as the captain and Felicity (on the right) as one of the guards. Sophia really nailed the prince - she looked the part and carried off all the male mannerisms, such that a number of people did a double take when we signed programs in the courtyard afterward and they realised she was a she.
Here am I as the Robber Chief. I've never had to dress in drag before but this time I had the whole deal - padded bra, untidy wig, skirt, and voice pitched way up high. A lot of people warned me to be careful not to damage my vocal cords, so I must have been doing something right. Like most men I haven't had much experience in putting on a bra, and once or twice was almost late for the scene through trying to get those pesky clips to attach.
But don't let my feminine form fool you - the robber chief is one feisty lady, and quick on the draw.
All the other robbers were male. Here are Sophia and Acacia, complete with beards.
Here too is Felicity (on the left), also with a beard.
In fact, in the robber scene almost all the robbers are cross dressing - the only man on stage is wearing a dress, and all the girls (except for one) are wearing beards.
The Many Faces of Barry In The Snow Queen I had a number of roles to fill. My main role was Hans Christian Andersen, storyteller and narrator for the show, but other roles were called for. After setting the story going and contributing a few bites of narration along the way I took a more active role. First I became Corr, the Royal Raven, a somewhat vain but kind-hearted bird, who escorts Gerda to the Royal court. Then in Act 2, after a quick bit of narration, I became the Robber chief (who is female), then the oldest Eskimo in the world, and finally Andersen again.
This involved costume changes of course. For these I had time to go downstairs & change before stepping on stage again, but many of them were pretty tight. The act 1 change (Andersen -> Corr) had only a few lines of leeway, but act 2 was worse. In between the different characters there were bits of narration as Andersen; the script had these as "voice of Andersen (off)", but in rehearsal Eve asked me to try changing so I could deliver the lines on stage. I found I could do it ... so I had to do it from then on.
I didn't hear the program, but found it by way of a Google search. The item doesn't say a whole lot about the show; mostly some negative comments about the minimalist staging. I did however appreciate the reference made in the blog (though not in the linked sound clip) to "the talented Barry Haworth".
More substantial was a radio interview on the 4BC Arts program on the evening of Tuesday the 15th of December. At the end of the show that day Amanda from the Arts Theatre office came in to say that 4BC wanted to interview someone from the show that night, and was I game? I was, so that night Sophia Felicity and I were interviewed on the radio (Acacia tagged along as well, but didn't want to be interviewed).
We spoke with the announcers for ten or fifteen minutes. I can't remember exactly what we said. I did most of the talking - about the show and how the story differed from the Hans Andersen original, about the different roles I had. The girls talked as well, Sophia in particular talked about playing a man, and we talked about being three family members being together in the same show for the first time. Afterwards I thought about all sorts of things I might have said or might have said differently - a bigger plug for the theatre perhaps, or should I have let the girls say more. I know that I spoke about Eve joining the show late in the rehearsal period and what a huge effect she had on bringing us all together. My mother told me afterward that she had heard the interview and thought it good - so I guess I didn't make too big a hash of it.