Friday 7th November
This rehearsal, like yesterday’s, got off to a riproaring start with a full rendition of Somewhere over the Rainbow and, importantly, a run through of the ending of the show and the dismissal of the large company of actors. Beginnings and endings…but then we concentrated on the first half of the show, with some detailed work not just on the complex musical entries, but the joyous complexities of choreography (brilliantly handled with the younger year groups the day before by Carys Gerard) with more actors on stage, fiddlers, friends, haunted forests, and strange creatures of all types. The students are working tremendously hard, with real vim, and we’d love everyone to have chance to see the show next week. So many memorable songs, so much colour and enjoyment, 75 years on from the release of the famous film starring Judy Garland. Tickets can be booked online on the school homepage as well as at the office; and the delicious Oz banquet looks mouthwatering, too.
Monday 10th November
This was the first time we had everyone together, and what an air of anticipation there was. It was very good to see everyone with a common purpose and to have the wonders of the Band with us on the journey. The music is fabulous, if complex, and the musicians gave everyone else a real sense of meaning and purpose with both the timed delivery of the dialogue and the musical numbers. The cymbals helped with the jokes, and the jokes began to emerge from the shrubbery. Sunflowers became trees became poppies, and although there is a tremendous amount to do in a very short time, we are already beginning to run the first half of the show. The team effort is also beginning to emerge, and that esprit de corps (perhaps Scarecrow would say esprit de crops) is what it is all about. Much hard work is going on behind the scenes, as well, with some designer sets being produced and costume preparations building up to the big unveiling at the Technical Rehearsal next Monday.
Tuesday 11th November
The focus today was rehearsal of Act Two, with some fancy choreographing to cover with Carys and some pretty complex blocking. We started the rehearsal with a run through all the music from beginning to end around the piano, adding in some dances and tricky rhythms as we went along – and a splattering of lame jokes, too. The band worked very hard with Miss Lane and covered a huge range of the repertoire and underscoring. The actors then completed the first part of Act Two onstage as far as the entrance of the jitterbugs (a fabulous song we all enjoyed learning). So, no jitters allowed at this stage! Looking forward to what we can accomplish tomorrow.
Wednesday 12th November
We completed the whole show today! Although not in one run…but we are working hard to be able to achieve this by the end of the week. Dialogue is beginning to pick up, and there are certainly one or two surprises in store for our audiences. It is very exciting to be able to welcome everyone, and to be able to have 450 local schoolchildren to come and see the first show on Thursday morning. Working hard at the score, the script, the on and offstage activities, and being great ambassadors for the school. So, the end was reached, some fairly complex logistical challenges hopefully overcome, and the band joined us at the end for the extremely demanding ‘Poppies’ scene and some scary witch moments – along with some angelic singing from the Fiddlers and Optimistic Voices. The plan is to run as much as we possibly can straight through tomorrow. In the meantime, the huge tree takes shape…
Thursday 13th November
The challenge today was to get through as much of the show as we could by six o’clock, with a prompt start. Whilst the latter was a challenge, we did get some way toward achieving the former, and the show began to take real shape. The tech crew worked very hard to get their lighting plot and machines ready for the off, and the band enjoyed some extra-score moments, too. The company were able to support one another well and to help one another mould the show into what we are all working hard to make it, ready for our audiences next week. There is still a great deal to do, but the build-up this week has been very positive, and with an extra push over the last few days, we are aiming to skip joyously down the Yellow Brick Road.
Friday 14th November
We were able to get to the end of the show today with the band, and then recommence with some new ideas and new faces! We worked hard to try to lay down some challenging choreography and to establish exactly when and how winkies, flying monkeys, jitterbugs, munchkins and people of Oz were on stage – and still managed to do so and remain happy and sane! Each time we rehearse, the standard improves, and the ideas flow more fluently. The challenge is to speak in American accents (although the Ozians are ever so terribly RP) all day long, just to reinforce the different vowels and vocabulary (American English is different from British English by roughly 20% nowadays). The cyclone was beginning to look really good; we now need more things hurtling through the air, and not just ideas!
Monday 17th November
Show time approaches and today we had the chance to begin to run a good deal of the complicated tech decisions and plots within the show. It was luxurious to be able to run the entire show and even to have time for some notes at the end. The costumes began to make their entrance, with some fabulous revelations from Tsvetana and Abigail. We have a task on our hands, but in true Pate’s fashion, are grasping it with enthusiasm and verve. It’ll be great to welcome our audiences starting this Thursday with 480 local primary schoolchildren.
Tuesday 18th November
The last blog before the show…what a day! We managed to run the show twice with the band, tech, stage management and costume teams all at once. The company really picked up with great enthusiasm and commitment throughout, and the sense of excitement and buzz around the space, spilling into the corridors, grew palpably. We have had a great journey to Oz, fast and furious, but fun, and we really look forward to showing you what we have later in the week. Thank you for following us and for reading!
Wizard Of Oz Trailer