More from Company Manager Neil.
Again I am sat on a train heading to Bristol – our next stop, and thankfully it’s a five week run. When I wrote my last blog I was on my way to London to meet the new children and also to go to our Oxford Press Launch.
The first day of rehearsals is always exciting and it was really great to meet all our new Von T’s, they have a really intensive six weeks ahead of them before they start performing in Bristol. Gavin (Children’s Director), Laura (Children’s Musical Director) and Jonny (Dance Captain) are working with them everyday in our rehearsal studio in London for three weeks before we have all of them join the show in Bristol, where we will have 27 children in the theatre – our poor chaperones!
On the first day of rehearsals we also do a meet and greet with all the new parents, this is one of the most important things we do as they always have a million questions and also it is good for them to see who will be looking after their kids for the next six months. I am really excited that one of our new children’s parents runs a business importing American sweets and goodies, not that we are all food obsessed or anything!
After the children’s rehearsals it was straight up to Oxford to meet Michael (Marketing Director) and the others (who had travelled down the night before) for a really lovely meal ahead of the Monday fun and games.
The Oxford press launch was like planning a military operation, and as ever nothing was simple to organise. Michael and Tom (our Marketing team) have been working on it for weeks. Connie, Mr Praed, Jonathan (MD), Rose and Dave (Wardrobe and Wigs) travelled down from Liverpool after the show on Saturday with all the costumes etc. Then on the Monday the children all travelled up early from London along with Clara Beauchamp (our Liesl for the day as Claire was on holiday) plus two guest Nuns from our last company (Zoe and Kate) who were there to meet and greet and to create the Abbey atmosphere at the church where the launch took place. Monday was a really early start for all of us, it was quite surreal to see Connie walking into the hotel lobby at 10 in the morning in full costume (early for once!!), and Clara getting into a taxi in full costume, rollers and Ugg boots.
The Launch went really well with David Ian introducing the show and then Connie singing ‘The Sound of Music’ , Mr Praed and the Von T’s joined in for Edelweiss , then Connie and Michael had a couple of hours of interviews whilst all the guests were served an Austrian lunch.
Then it was operation get-back-to-Liverpool. We had a slight problem with the launch, to get everything we needed to get done in a day meant that we wouldn’t finish in Oxford until 3pm, and, with a show in Liverpool at 7pm, no trains that would get us there in time and driving being unpredictable, the only option our office came up with was to hire a plane. So straight after the launch we were taken to Oxford airport where we were driving right up to the side of the private plane, no check in, no queues… It was a real treat flying on such a small plane. Michael got to sit next to the pilot, which I think he really enjoyed. From the colour Jonathan our MD went, I don’t think the plane was his favourite part of the day.
It actually took longer to get from Liverpool airport to the theatre than the flight time, but we were all there in plenty of time for the show, we even organised a spare Captain (Sam Newman) to come up to Liverpool in case we were delayed and anything happened to our cover captain Nick, as Neil Moors the first cover was on holiday.
We really have had fun and games in Liverpool, something always happens to the children at this time of year and we have been hit by the same bugs that were with us in Milton Keynes last year. But as ever, our children are amazing and quickly cover parts at last minute. Big mention must go to our super swing Imogen who had to go on as Gretl with eight minutes notice, and all of the Red team for covering so well this week with last minute illness.
Miss Fisher also had a very special evening in Liverpool. Liverpool Playhouse are currently presenting Anthony and Cleopatra with a certain Kim Cattrall (from Sex and the City). Connie with her PA Dawn went to see it on Connie’s night off last Wednesday and we managed to arrange for them to meet Kim after – Connie came back with all these A list ideas of personal security, 5-star treatment etc, its amazing how me and Dawn can both achieve instant deafness at times…
It has also been half term this week, so instead of the Von T’s being in tutoring all day, they have been creating Halloween chaos around the theatre. Dressing rooms were decorated for Halloween and generally we had a really good week of Halloween fun. Both teams this week went trick or treating around the theatre and were really spoilt by everybody. Between show on Wednesday, Justin and Gavin from the Purples created a house of horror in their dressing room! Chris Barton was subjected to one of the scariest experiences of his life and his screams could be heard around the building.
If there is any mischief going on in The Sound of Music land, Jacinta (Baroness) and Claire (Liesl) always seem to be somewhere near! They also traumatise poor Michael Praed by constantly jumping out on him. We did get the children back in the ‘Haunted wig room’ – its amazing how a number two sound operator , a black sheet and an air horn hiding in a skip can put terror into seven small people!
Chris Barton and James Lacey really have enjoyed being back in their home town for three weeks and again as with Pippa and Neil Moors in Birmingham, James used to work front of house at the Empire, so it was great for him to catch up with his old friends.
The company had a ‘Dead Famous’ Halloween party on Thursday night – and some really amazing costumes were made, especially Fiona O’C as Barbara Cartland, and Claire Fish as Ghandi!
Yesterday (Saturday) was our final day of Halloween madness – and the second annual Pumpkin competition. Our Sound Department had decorated the vocal booth, the children and chaperones were in fancy dress, Trish (Wardrobe) had her witches hat on, and the only downside of Pumpkins – the smell of rotting vegetable was everywhere.
There was also lots of backstage mischief with plastic spiders. A couple of the company are really terrified of spiders and I think whoever thought it was amusing to hide a large spider in Miss Fisher’s show pants was really cruel ….he he he!!! Its nearly as bad as teaching the kids to respond to anything Sarah the chaperone asks with ‘We Love you Miss Hannigan’!
The Pumpkin competition was held between shows. The Empire front of house and group bookings created entries along with the Von T’s, Wardrobe (and their Pets, James and Len) along with Wardrobes special guest Aaron – created a really great Pumpkin on Wed but unfortunately on Saturday it had collapsed , so Wardrobe created a coffin for it and grave stone – and made me start the Pumpkin ceremony by conducting a funeral service. Anyone coming out of the Liverpool station at around 6.45pm last night must have thought we were completely nuts. Jenna Boyd was the only cast entry (shame) as Carly T had left hers at home (as you do!)
Then it was the small business of doing the show – it really does get in the way of the fun at times!
Now to Bristol and the lovely Bristol Hippodrome –
PS sorry about the lack of show tweets recently – a few computer, phone issues but normal service has been resumed!
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