Today was Day Two of rehearsals. We have 42 in the cast.
The Grand has a great tradition of mentoring, so twice a year they create productions with high school students from London and the surrounding area. In the spring it’s a play, (this year I directed Macbeth, while I was here as Apprentice Artistic Director) and in the autumn it’s musical on the Main Stage. This is it’s the 1930’s Cole Porter classic, Anything Goes.
There are students working on every area of the production, mentored by professionals at The Grand. This year we also have a student assistant director and assistant choreographer. The rehearsal process is about 3.5 weeks of rehearsal hours, spread out over 8 weeks. The students have a rigorous audition/interview process and then sign contracts to commit to the production.
I’m ‘returning to my roots’ on this one… I was, (believe it or not) a tapping teenager… Yes, that’s right- I tapped. I was working professionally in musical theatre at tender age of 17. However, although I worked in musical theatre for a number of years, I have not directed a musical. When I started directing I focused on my passion for language and classical theatre.
So- back to the teens.
We started on Sunday with a meet and greet- then I dove into an acting workshop to introduce some vocabulary that we’ll be using in rehearsal. That was followed by a session on vocal health and a vocal warm-up with Rick Kish, (our singing coach) and two hours of full company music rehearsals with our Musical Director, David Hall. The seven-hour day sped by!
This week rehearsal is mostly spent learning music, while I introduce text work on the scenes to the actors- we’ll be doing basic ‘table work’, objectives/units/actions and I’m encouraging them to do this work at home, so that we then have a place to start the exploration in rehearsal. I’ll have about 5 days to ‘get the play on its feet’; it’ll be speedy…
On Friday and Saturday I’m back in Toronto on The Sad and Cautionary Tale of Smackheaded Peter. I’m working on this in the evenings this week- producing, organizing, supporting. There’s lots to do-
I’d still like to divide myself in half and it’s still a lovely problem to have!
Here’s the stage that the teens will be performing on- It’s a beautiful theatre.