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A day in the life of the Sound of Music on tour…  
The third instalment from Company Manager Neil White’s tour blog – originally written shortly after the show arrived in Southampton on 29th September.
The Sound of Music UK Tour


It’s nearly the end of our second week in Southampton, the tour is going so so quickly…

So much has happened since my last blog, our run in Bradford was amazing – so lovely to see my home theatre packed for every performance and really great to see lots of people I haven’t seen in years!

There is a myth that people who work in theatre come into work around 6pm at night and do a couple of hours – let me take you through a the amount of preparation it takes to stage The Sound of Music each night with a typical Tuesday on tour –

Tuesday 22nd September

9.00 our local wardrobe maintenance arrives to start the show laundry, our wardrobe team have started the washing the night before so she has the unenviable task of a huge pile of ironing and then sorting all the socks and underwear into each cast members’ laundry basket.

10.00 Stage Management arrive to make sure the stage is pre-set for the days rehearsal. This afternoon we are doing a dress rehearsal with all our first covers and this morning Gavin our Resident Director is doing scene work with Kate (Cover Maria) and Sam (Cover Captain). This marks the end of a second long rehearsal period with the cast doing twelve hours a week of rehearsals as well as doing the show.

Carl the local sports therapist starts the first of eight sports therapy sessions.

The children have started their morning of tutoring, even though they are away from home they still have to do their lessons every day.

10.30 Rehearsal start

11:00 Our wardrobe team arrive and tackle the list of costume notes from the last performance as well as pressing and pleating all the children’s costumes. As a lot of the costumes in the show are cotton or linen there is a never ending battle to make it look perfect but Trish our wardrobe mistress can spot a crease at a hundred yards and if anyone gets caught sitting down in a dress….be afraid… They also have to get all the cover costumes ready for this afternoon’s dress rehearsal.

The wigs department arrive and not only do they have to finish setting the wigs for the evening’s performance – they have to prepare for the dress rehearsal this afternoon and also fit in a couple of the boys’ hair-cuts.

12.15 I arrive at the theatre and start to empty my computer inbox – there are the usual ticket requests, publicity call notifications and purchase orders to authorise (there always seems to be a never ending list of equipment we need to buy for the show). Then I send messages to all our Head of Departments with the casting for the evening performance.

12.30 Rehearsal Lunch Break!

13:30 The full understudy company start a full dress rehearsal of the show.

16.30 Rehearsals finish on stage and Andy, Rob and Ania (sound) have to re-battery and check all the mics as well as making sure every speaker / sound computer is working.

Chris, Len and Nick (our ‘cavemen’) electricians power-up the lighting rig and check every lamp is working as well as all the moving lights are doing what they should, most days they will have to swap out equipment and they will work up to the auditorium opens to make sure that all is fully functional.

Steve (Carpenter and automation) and James (Technical Assistant Stage Manager) start all the automation checks. Every piece of automated scenery will be run and tested before the show.

17.00 and in the dress circle bar – it’s feeding time at the zoo for the smaller Von Traps – the Alhambra have been brilliant and the children have had great meals everyday here, we are all very jealous of their tasty roast dinners tonight.

17.30 The stage crew are moving all the scenery around the stage to its preset positions for act one.

17:45 Claire (Liesl) is in wigs having her heated rollers put in.

18.00 The cast all arrive and we start the first of our two physical warm-ups, this is only compulsory for Rolf and Liesl but most of the company join in as it’s a great way to keep fitness and also good bonding before the show. Wardrobe are still busy storing all the cover costumes from the cover dress rehearsal this afternoon and making sure all the costumes are set for the performance – as well as pressing and pleating all the children’s costumes again as the children did the rehearsal this afternoon.

Front of house are doing their pre-show briefing so they all know which positions they are in for the show and also so they know information such as when to let late comers in…

18.30 Jonathan our Musical Director is taking vocal warm up with the cast.

18.30 Laura our Children’s Musical Director is taken the children’s warm-up

18.55 The half hour call – the auditorium opens and the packed audience arrives as the cast finish getting dressed and the musicians arrive and tune up.

19.30 Performance time.

Our run in Bradford has flown by, the 5 minute call concerts finished with a spectacular finale from Danny (assistant MD) and Laura (Children’s MD) leading the crew in a Abba sing-along (complete with wigs but sadly no white lycra!!) Miss Fisher managed to get locked out of the backstage during the show and ended up in the studio theatre next door! Before we know it the Paul Matthew’s trucks are at the theatre ready for the long weekend of moving the show – for a Tuesday opening in Southampton…

Southampton –

The theatre couldn’t be more different to Bradford – a massive 1930’s building seating over 2000, and instead of a very compact dressing room block like Bradford , the theatre dressing rooms are spread over 5 floors of long corridors. The Mayflower is in the middle of building new backstage facilities and has been closed over the summer.

I have worked at the Mayflower with so many shows since 1987 and it is amazing to see how the theatre has changed through the years, The management at the theatre are constantly investing and improving the building and this time the stage has been expanded again, the bars and front of house areas renovated, new dressing rooms and a new wardrobe room. The one thing that doesn’t change over the years at the Mayflower is the staff – and it is really good so see so many familiar (old) faces!!
Unfortunately with the compact backstage in Bradford, a few coughs and colds seemed to have spread around most of the company and for the first week in Southampton so many of the touring company are suffering.

Again we are blessed with amazing audiences, at the Mayflower the audience comment on the theatre’s website and it is so lovely to have received so many positive messages (read some of the messages and post your own by clicking here!)

The company are continuing to have fun, mainly with Chris and Len (our Lighting team) being the bad influence and insisting we go out…..

The Children continue to keep the company smiling – The Billy team did a full concert for us at the interval yesterday, complete with Grease Medley (costumes and everything), some incredibly perceptive impressions of the cast, and a song about our Head Chaperone Mavis – I predict ‘Mavis the Musical’ could be the next worldwide musical hit !!

For the next blog I have some guest writers – Joseph and Oliver from the childrens ‘Billy’ team.

Neil x

Posted on: 5th October 2009

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