Monday: Musical Theatre at Blackheath


There’s rather more theatre in this musical theatre lark than I quite anticipated.  Maybe it just feels like that because we are improvising, so there’s a lot being tried out that won’t get into the final product.

We reviewed our memory of what we were doing with Under Pressure and our scene on the train station, and Lee has taken on my suggestion that the two note refrain sounds like an announcement is about to be made, and there is now a twenty-minute delay announced before we start singing. We have established that it’s a cold day and the roof over the platform leaks, and that one of our number has a double buggy.  Lee is going to find us a sound effect for oyster card reader, and some of us are going to have paper coffee cups. (Something for Jonathon to sweep up – he now has an actual big broom courtesy of whoever left it leaning against the wall.)

We have a new song: a mash-up of Money, Money, Money (Abba) and I Hope I Get It (A Chorus Line).  Lee has given us nice simple arrangements, but even so I’m struggling with getting the pitch right… ’tis a curse not reading music confidently…  it’ll come right in the end!

So now we have a new scene where we are all out of work actors at an audition.  Once more in groups, we improvise that there is some negative history between two of the company.  we have to say whether the scene comes before or after the song.

What we get is:

Two rather histrionic male/female bust ups, one referring to ‘it was in the papers, you know it was, you know what he did to me!’  which sounded deliciously scandalous, the other more of a messy divorce scenario, which included some very witty actorly stretches.

My group did a take on All About Eve, with me in Joan Crawford mode snarling at the bright young thing who got MY part last time, and shouldn’t she be on the way to Hollywood by now darling, instead of slumming it with us? The rest of them ganged up on me magnificently and we had a lot of fun, but a tad OTT.  Ought to segue into Anything You Can Do, but we’d decided it was before the song so that’s not going to happen!

And two rather good, quiet takes – one making use of the words of the song, to be interior dialogue, and just an appalled look and a turning away as the pair in conflict clap eyes on each other; and the other when one of the producers recognises one of the actors as he is asked for his name, and they both say it together, then she turns away in horror.  I liked this one particularly.

Its getting interesting, we’ve been asked to come up with more scenarios for big ensemble pieces…

© Cherry Potts 2012

Musical from scratch


This is definitely an experiment: A and I at Blackheath Halls with quite a crowd of Blackheath Chorus, Gospellers and Find Your Voice-ers with Lee Reynolds directing, for a seven-week make-a-musical… there will be an invitation only performance in week seven.

The plan is that we come up with a musical from scratch: we aren’t writing the music, but we are choosing the story line and, we hope, the songs, which will be culled from other sources.

We started with  the basic theme of ‘a difficult decision’, and learning Under Pressure (lots of mouth music very few words, good choice!). With this basic framework we split into teams and came up with scenarios and the songs we thought appropriate.

Options arrived at:

Into Africa: banker meets friend wonders what became of good intentions and decides to jack it all in and go and do something worthwhile in Africa.  (songs – Money Money Money, Hatuna Matata)

Blackheath Blues: an ensemble piece with stressed commuters on the station, different individuals get to sing their problems. (Songs, seasons of love)

Riot: youth tempted to join the riots. (Songs: London’s Burning, should I stay or should I go… money (that’s what I want))

Roll of the Dice: Politician with gambling habit in casino – each roll of the dice leads to a new dilemma or life choice (fantasy scenes…), ultimately decides to give up gambling – but presumably not politics! (songs: Money Money Money, Luck be a Lady…)

Marriage Dilemma: woman has to choose between safe man her mum approves of, or handsome stranger… (Songs: Marry the man today)

New Job New World: woman desperate for work is offered dream job in the USA but partner doesn’t want to come… (Songs: New York New York, I can cook too, another suitcase another hall…)

I’m fairly sure Money Money Money is going to get an airing regardless of the theme chosen.

We had a lot of fun getting to this point, my group had worked out costumes and props as well as a reprise and mashup section, very sophisticated!

Blind voting, we chose Blackheath Blues, and immediately started being commuters.  I decided I was not on my way to work, but heading for a plane, for which I was getting increasingly late.  Not quite decided whether I’m a Blackheathen on my way on holiday or someone who’s been staying with relatives and is now heading off home to … hmm…  Orkney looks attractive, and probably is at least as difficult and time consuming to get to as some longish haul flights.

Jonathon was having fun being a manic cleaner, racing through the throng pushing what was clearly one of those very wide brooms. Not sure how we will move this scene on, nor where the difficult decision comes in.  Maybe the train has been hijacked, or someone could have a heart attack.  Under Pressure…

© Cherry Potts 2012