So presumably once the show starts and the curtain goes up you can relax a little knowing that you have covered everything off thoroughly?
No! Not at all! It has happened that actors have to come off for various reasons while the show is in progress… when this happens it can get quite manic! For example, If someone has gone off before the hoedown then they may not have a partner to lift them, or indeed someone to lift, so I have to try and run around and give directions – and this often while I am onstage myself covering a role – “you need to go off for this bit” or “you need to stand over there for that bit”!..
And that’s another thing if a principal goes off during the show then we have to pluck whoever is their cover out of the ensemble and then replace that ensemble member with a swing. So there is a knock on effect. Especially for wigs and wardrobe when it’s in the middle of a show – that can be quite harrowing.
There are a lot of children involved in Joseph – does your role as Dance Captain involve looking after them as well?
I am Children’s Supervisor which means I don’t really look after them too much as such. We have a lady called Alex Worrall who goes out to the school in Essex and teaches them all the moves. Obviously they don’t have the set or the steps out there so when they come into the theatre for the first time on the stage I join them and it can be quite daunting for them, particularly the younger ones. We have had a couple who have initially been very anxious about going on stage for the first time… those steps must seem really high to a 6 year old!
So my role with the children is that I give notes if necessary. But the chaperones are amazing and I rarely give them any directions. They have 36 children to dress and each have to go to the loo in a rota! We have three groups, one will do Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and the next group do Thursday, Friday, Saturday then the third group do Monday, Tuesday Wednesday and so on. So they have a week off in between appearances. The same children do the matinee and evening show if they are on Wednesday or Saturday and all get taken out for something to eat between shows. We have had 4 different sets of three teams since the show started. Some children have come back again to the show and you see familiar faces returning.
Although many of the cast have been with the show for the full run, the two main characters, Joseph and the Narrator have both changed, this must add to your workload?
It is always a bit strange to begin with. In the case of Gareth (Gates, who took over the role of Joseph from Lee Mead) I was with him almost from the beginning of rehearsals so I was used to a new Joseph by the time he started in the show. He does do some things quite differently. Some of the staging you would have to adapt because he would stand in a slightly different place or that kind of thing. But we are so used to him now that we probably would find it hard to remember what Lee used to do! And of course it was the same with the narrator as well when Jenna came in (Jenna Lee James took over the role from Preeya Kalidas).
Would you be a Dance Captain again?
Yes! (Pip says as she shakes her head vigorously and laughs), Yes, I would do it again. There are different reasons for wanting to do it. Having your own track in the show is lovely because you just come in and you know what to expect. You do your job and then go home and can do other stuff in the day if you want to. But being a dance captain is quite full on and I think I take it a bit too seriously! People say “why do you come in so early”, but I just have to know that I have gone through everything and got everything right. I would be mortified if I missed something.
What are you doing next?
I am doing Shall We Dance at Sadlers Wells with Adam Cooper, I have a little featured part. I get two weeks off then I start rehearsals. I am looking forward to it, I will be doing some tap and I haven’t tapped since I was in Thoroughly Modern Millie.
So you would say that you have enjoyed the past two years?
I have. I really have. There have been moments when I have wanted to bang everyone’s heads together but on the whole we have had a great time. I think the people make it and there have been such a great bunch of people involved in this show. It has been so happy and friendly. That doesn’t happen in every show!
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