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Joseph rehearsal blog – part 5  
At last! The cast get to meet their Joseph in John Alistair's latest blog
Lee Mead in rehearsal

Wednesday last was the anniversary of D-Day and this Monday for us is Lee Day. Lee Mead won the final on Saturday and this morning we had a call to go down to Studio 1 where we would be introduced to him and his ever-present camera crew. It was our task to convince him that we would welcome him whole-heartedly into the company. He must have been very apprehensive and as he walked in he was clearly worried but then very quickly relieved when he heard the tremendous cheer and huge round of applause. He was much shorter than I expected and his first words to me were “god you’re tall!” Many of the girls in the cast were of course poring over his gorgeous tumbling locks and no doubt getting a bit hot under the collar as it were, but I am not sure whether the pre-meet make-up application was for Lee or the cameras; mine looked terrible as today I was not in as early as I normally am and had to rush my mascara…it looked dreadful. Sadly Lee never even noticed!

I felt sorry for him in a way as he had had weeks of being put through the mill week in, week out and, just as he wins the final, he has to start all over again with a group of people who have already spent a couple of weeks working together. He had only one day off to try and let it all sink in, then he was pretty much straight into rehearsals, back at the beginning. What was very clear from the outset and through the next few days was that he absolutely understood this amazing gig he was headlining in. He spoke of all his amazing new experiences over the weeks of the show and loved every hard-working minute of it. But underlying all of it was the knowledge that however glitzy and glamorous his journey has been to date, and will no doubt continue to be, he still had a job to do and a great deal of expectations to meet. Talking to him and working with him, I am 100% confident in him delivering on these expectations and giving another 100% on top of that. It took a few days for him to completely finish his early press and PR commitments and then we had him, and camera, in all of the rehearsals. They are filming his journey for a documentary to be screened later on in this year and so the camera, sound and production team follow him around two or thee days a week – EVERYWHERE. He found them in his wardrobe the other day and was then buying a coffee in Covent Garden when he realised the entire BBC production team had in fact squeezed into his rucksack. These guys will do anything for a good shot!

By Wednesday he was there with the PLB (Packed Lunch Brigade – Go PLB…remember?) sitting, like the rest of us have to, on the dirty floor of the rehearsal room eating and chatting away like he had never even been on the telly. I kept saying to him “…do you know, you really look like that bloke on the telly…” (See I love flexing my comedy wings now and again!) We all roar with laughter when I come out with those types of comedy gems! It’s been really hard for him just slotting into the show. He must have felt very awkward, as anyone would have done, trying to get it right every time, struggling to take in the mammoth amount of information that is given to him by Nichola, Dan, Stage Management, film crew, cast…the list goes on. Presumably he has a life outside of Joseph too, so how he is managing the normality of that is beyond me. Keep up the good work, Lee, you’re doing just great!

By the end of the week we had started to run Act 1 properly but I felt seriously lacking with Act 2. My Act 1 dancing is finally starting to feel a bit more secure and, occasionally, I am thinking ahea

d rather than in the moment, which is starting to help enormously. This means that I am prepared, even if not fully ready, for the next move.

What is a SitzProbe?

My god what an experience!! I didn’t even know what a Sitzprobe was until Thursday. It sounded like a type of Salami to me, but as ever I am learning things daily.

Sitzprobe: a term used in opera and musical theatre to describe a seated rehearsal where the singers sing with the orchestra, focusing attention on integrating the two groups.

I thought “well there’ll be a lot of instruments and musicians there” and yes, there were, but I had no idea about the other paraphernalia that would be present. We all had microphones; the band had monitor speakers, there were wires everywhere. I had already met Jo, the top cheese of the sound department, a week or so ago and today Scott and Van, her team, were there accompanying her. We even had a couple of chaps there who were music copyists. These guys sit there with their Mac Laptops and an A3 printer and print out music score alterations to order. I should have put in a request for a more relaxed tempo for the mega mix but only remembered this missed opportunity on the train on the way home a couple of hours later…too late! We also met the Red team for the first time. We have two teams of children working on the show; the Reds and Blues respectively. Both teams were there at the Sitzprobe and they were as good as gold, clearly excited – the work we have heard them doing over recent weeks has clearly paid off. They sounded terrific and spent the afternoon giving it their all. It really is such a pleasure to see them enjoy this wonderful experience and it’s very warming to feel that some of them will, I am sure, one day enter this profession with fond memories of the time they spent in Joseph. At one point James and myself were almost in tears watching one of the girls give it her all. I mean red face and everything. She was giving it 400% – brilliant. Go! Go! Go Kids.

Another thing I learnt today was the role of the ‘Fixer’. Now I kind of expected a dirty white van outside with a hotmail email address and other slap-dash finery advertising a handyman for all eventualities. You know, a shabby padlock and clasp holding the back doors together, mud around the wheel arches and a half-eaten kebab on the dashboard. But no…a fixer is a person who organises all the musicians, gets a quality orchestra together, deals with contracts and clashes with other engagements and then the music department put them through their paces.

When I looked around at those present in this rehearsal room, from the musicians to the cast, technical company and stage management (stage management are always there to help and somehow seem to smile the whole time) this wealth of amazing people at the top of their game made me feel sort of humble. To think that the offerings I bring to this cocktail party are somehow included in the mix with the great and good present, makes me tingle and very nervous. Anyway enough of the compliments and my obsequiousness! I should also add that the environment in that rehearsal room at the end was hot, dirty, smelly and frankly pretty damn disgusting and each and every one of those present have to take part of the responsibility for it. You see it’s not all good. I think it’s probably mainly the musicians or the kids!

One thing I did think during the run was what a difference it makes when there is a percussionist present. They give so much intricate detail and never ever seem to stop, I mean he really never stopped, and all that he did added beautiful highlights to the sound. I personally think he must be a bit mad because the day you decide to be a percussionist is they day you need to buy yourself a very, very big van and resign yourself to the fact that you will be the last one to the pub, a mile behind the flute player who walks there with his instrument casually tucked in his back pocket. I am probably underestimating when I say the percussionist must have had 30 different instruments and struck, banged, shook or rumbled every single one of them.

Posted on: 12th July 2007

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