The Sound of Music UK tour’s run at The Alhambra Theatre in Bradford comes to an end on 26th September – so before the show makes its way to The Mayflower in Southampton, Company Manager Neil White reveals what’s been going on in Bradford in his second tour blog…
This tour blog was written shortly after the show arrived in Bradford on 2nd September.
Bank Holiday Monday and instead of having a relaxing weekend like most of the country, our production and touring crew are in the Alhambra Theatre in Bradford racing against the clock to get the show ready for Wednesday night. The show has just taken 16 hours to get out of the Millennium Centre in Cardiff, our truck drivers have driven up north and the crew have been working all night to rig the lighting, sound and build the set. This is my tenth show at the Alhambra and never really had a problem with stage and dressing room space but when I arrive at the theatre there is equipment everywhere. After four attempts with Trish our wardrobe mistress, we eventually come up with a dressing room list so at least everyone has a mirror (we blame the children for taking up so much space)! After the huge dressing rooms at the Wales Millennium Centre (WMC) the Alhambra feels a little bit of a squash. Our stage management team are waiting patiently for their truck to be unloaded – as are Wardrobe. I find my office case and set up and make sure I am ready for a busy couple of days.
Tuesday and there is activity everywhere – the first move of a show is always the worst. In Cardiff our team had over a week to build and rig everything – now in Bradford three days and for the rest of the tour only two days each time. Slowly but surely everything start to take shape, the lighting team have finished and are ready to go, our keyboard players arrive to set up, Sound are doing all the last minute checks and the carpenters and automation team are sorting out all the last minute snags .
Wednesday and the opening of a show is always a manic day, deliveries are constantly arriving (where can we put 200 singing goats??)
Wednesday morning is the Orchestra sound check, at 11.30 the cast arrive, settle into their dressing rooms and then get their mics on to sound check. There is much amusement about the names of some of the dressing rooms – Connie is in Humpty Dumpty, Maggie is Cinderella and poor Michael Praed is in Mother Goose.
The Company have their Health and Safety walk-around with Eddie the stage manager. Even though our set is the same at all venues we have considerably less backstage space here and Eddie and the stage management team have to point out all the backstage changes.
Connie is then whisked away by Simon Raw (our Press Manager) and spends the afternoon doing Radio and TV interviews. The cast get ready for the dress rehearsal.
The dress is quite eventful, with lots of stops and starts. We don’t actually get through the whole show and have to ‘top and tail’ to do the difficult changes. Then there is a frantic 60 minutes to complete all the last minute set jobs before we have to open the theatre to the public.
My office in the Alhambra is tiny, and by the time I’ve got computers, printers, and the essentials like my coffee machine there isn’t a lot of room. As with every venue on tour, our management always come up to give their support and to check that everything is perfect. Robyn the general manager is perched perilously close to the sink, and the only place Matt our production manager can find to sit is on the toilet in the ensuite, what a classy team…
The first preview goes really well, David Ian (the Producer) has come to Bradford to see the show. The Alhambra is a really beautiful theatre and really feels intimate after the huge WMC, the audience again seem to love the show and the first performance, apart from a few hitches, goes really well. Afterwards we all have a well earned drink at the Front of House (FOH). As ever our touring stage management team and crew have done a great job and safely got the cast through the show.
Thursday, and it is matinee time already, before our press performance in the evening. As its press night Simon Raw is here with Michael Harvard-Bilton and Matthew Damsell (Marketing). The press night is a text-book show so afterwards we go out and celebrate!
Then Friday it’s back to cover rehearsals, changing over children’s teams and the day-to-day running of the show.
With the intimate nature of being backstage in the Alhambra Theatre, and the really handy green room/ assembly area just before you go onstage – the company have actually become much closer. It’s great being in a smaller theatre as you actually see everyone all the time. The assembly also has a piano and has become the venue for the concert at the five-minute call, this is becoming one of the highlights of our day and our very talented music department give us a brief concert before each performance. Danny Whitby’s ‘Carpenter’ medley is the winner so far…
We have some covers go on in Bradford – Clara as Liesl, Jennifer as Sister Berthe and due to Suzanne taking a tumble on a very civilised night out with the older Nuns (am still recovering from the beating I got when they read the last blog), Emma has been on for the most important and most Facebook-followed character in the show… Frauline Schweiger. We have also had some poorly children so had to swap some at the last minute – it all adds to the fun!
Again it is not all work for the cast and crew, and there seems to have been a lot of curries consumed (especially by the resident of the Mother Goose dressing room), lots of shopping from Miss Connie ‘I cant talk – I’ve got 9 minutes left before Primark closes’ Fisher, poker played, and generally having a great time in the Yorkshire countryside. Plus I am at home so a great venue so far…
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