The Sound of Music UK tour’s Company Manager Neil White got on the tour bus from Cardiff to Bradford earlier this month, he shared his thoughts about rehearsals, Cardiff, and the first month of shows…
This tour blog was written before the show transferred from Cardiff to Bradford on 2nd September.
Hi, I am sitting on a train on my way to Bradford and remembered that I’d been asked by the web team to do a blog on the tour.
It has been an amazing 10 weeks now since rehearsals started at the Jerwood space in London and now we have completed 41 shows and had the most phenomenal response, we’re on our way to open in our second venue, The Alhambra Bradford.
Rehearsals now seem like ages ago – from our first day with just the children, the second week with the principal cast and then the third week when the rest of the company arrived. From the excitement when everyone was show the model box of the set (this is a replica model used by the construction team) to now know that set is in nine trailers heading north after taking all night to take out of the theatre.
After the four weeks in the rehearsal room in London the show moved to the Wales Millennium centre where our production team had been working all week to be ready for the company to arrive – the sound of music. Not only do we have the 86 cast, children, stage management, orchestra and crew on tour with us we also have a large production team led by our production manager Matt Towell who are responsible for taking the show out of one venue and then straight away putting it into the next.
We were really lucky that the WMC was our first venue, the stage and lighting crews at the theatre are excellent, the venue has so much space and as its Connie’s home patch the buzz about the show was amazing. Not to mention the very lovely dressers and the amazing bacon sandwiches at the front of house coffee shop.
After a very long week of technical rehearsals we eventually previewed on the Sunday afternoon, as the technical week went along more and more of the people working on the show arrived – so as well as our company and the theatres crew, we also had all our office staff from London, press, marketing and then for the preview Andrew Lloyd Webber and David Ian arrived to cast their producer-ial glances over the show.
The first preview went incredibly well and has to be one of the calmest first performances I have been involved in – but this 1st performance was the start of a series of first performances. With 3 teams of children and also an alternate Maria (the lovely Kirsty Malpass), after a well deserved day off on the Monday we were all back in on the Tuesday to do a dress rehearsal for Kirsty and the other set of children who were performing that evening . Then along with matinees and rehearsals we were getting ready for the press night performance on the Thursday night.
Press night again was a fantastic show and was followed by a great party at the St David’s hotel, this was the first time in weeks everyone had the opportunity to let their hair down, and as I left a collection of our nuns were ‘busting some shapes’ on the dance floor – then the next day the understudy rehearsals started.
The day after press night is always a very strange feeling, all the production team leave, I suddenly had my office to myself as our Producer and General Manager had gone back to London and the show is left to the touring team to get on with the day to day running of the show.
Week Two and we have our last set of children to put into the show and to mark this event we threw a children’s party between the shows on the Saturday. The children found out we had a chocolate fountain at our first night party and after much pestering we managed to arrange one for them – I think the kids enjoyed it – from the amount of chocolate over their faces , hands and clothes they seemed to have a good time (sorry parents…)
The remaining weeks in Cardiff have flown by – Simone did her first performances as Mother Abbess, David O’Dell went on for Max, and also we have managed to have some great company nights out. When you allocate dressing rooms you normally try to work out who will get on and also normally you try to have people of a similar age group together, with our nuns I thought I would separate the girls into 2 rooms, as we have some young nuns and some slightly more mature ladies (think I might get beaten for that comment….) as I thought the younger members of the company would be slightly nosier in the dressing room – HOW WRONG COULD I BE, the young nuns dressing room is a sanctuary of peace and quiet – the other nun’s room is a riot and – I have to go and visit Jacinta and Claire’s room (Baroness and Liesl) after a visit to it to get my sanity back. Well put these ladies in a bar with a Karaoke machine – and my, what a crazy night out. We have had some great Karaoke nights – with actually most of the cast having a go, this along with boat trips, whiskey distilleries and the occasional party, Cardiff has been fun…
Back to the show…we have had the most amazing audiences here – standing ovations at every performance and we have been overwhelmed by the number of audience wanting autographs at the end of the show. We have met some amazing people from the 90yr old Nun yesterday (who actually had met Maria Von Trapp) – to I think half of Pembrokeshire, the lovely ladies who have just been watching How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria in the States who had flown over to see Connie (she only won in America three weeks ago!) to the lovely Connie Forum – who took over the front 2 rows last night with their Connie Fisher t-shirts.
Yesterday was a crazy day – when you are in a venue for 6 weeks it’s amazing how long it takes to pack – not only work things but also that feeling when you know that one suitcase you brought with you is never going to fit everything you seem to have bought! Also those going away on tour for the first time who are still trying to justify 16 pairs of shoes and 6 evening dresses – after a few train journeys and running across stations to get connecting trains the bags soon get slimmed down…
Anyway – our touring team are currently working round the clock to get the show ready for Wednesday night and the start of what I hope will be as successful a venue as Cardiff –
….I hope it takes less than 10 weeks to get my next blog out and in the coming weeks I will introduce you to the rest of our Sound of Music Team…
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