Wednesday, July 31, 2013

In Buxton: July 29-31, a yeomen effort

Regular readers will remember I've used that title before too. Old Milligan's running out of ideas.

On Monday I must go shopping, it'll be the last chance before we get stuck into Savoynet rehearsals. Apart from that we had pretty much nothing to do until the Pavilion Arts Centre opened for Salad Days. We left it a bit late and got the last couple of seats in the house - but John Wellington was the usher and made sure we got to see it.

The uni shows have quite a different character to the ones we do at home. I suspect the style of direction being taught now is much more like drama than musical theatre in the classic sense. What I noticed was that in both this and yesterday's show, all the characters are 100% believable in the role. Nobody fills a role with a good singer who can't act. Maybe there's a higher calibre of cast member here...

The same was true of the Oxbridge Yeomen in the evening. Two of the cast are in the same wing of the halls as us so we've met them and chatted all things G&S on several occasions. We're both very glad to be able to give them a glowing review with perfect honesty. It's a little bit awkward because it's almost like we're checking out the competition - but whatever competition there is between shows is between all of them, not just Yeomens.

What was really interesting was that the opening scene seemed to be a carbon copy of the one we did in 2011 - right down to the shadowy lighting. Luckily that was only the first scene, after that it brightened up quickly. Realistic acting was the hallmark of the show - I could have sworn there was real water in the horse trough when Elsie washed her hands in it after being manhandled by the crowd.

At the Festival Club afterwards Diana and our Dame Curruthers joined us at our Table Within Reach Of A Power Point. Diana didn't join us singing choruses in public but a good time was had by all (as far as I know). At the end of the cabaret Rachel Middle came over came over to say hi - and as it turned out she and Diana had never met before! She must have just happened to skip all the shows Diana directed...

So we made a fairly early night of it, promising each other we'd all meet again in just a few more hours. As indeed we did - principals' rehearsal, before the official meet and greet. Prinnies rehearsals are fun - no pressure, amusing muck-ups, anecdotes, chocolate... I got to stand in for the Second Citizen, who gets slapped in the face by Elsie. She was very apologetic, which must mean I overacted it somewhat. It's what I do.

From there we went to a meet and greet dinner. There are only a few in this cast we haven't already met at least once, so we can't do any twins tricks. And there are enough Aussies in and around the show that we can't do any tricks in that area either. We'll just have to use our hard work and charm to work our way into the hearts of these people.

And then to the Opera House for Trent's Ruddigore. Last time we were here Trent did Princess Ida in motorbike helmets, which worked fairly well. This time... Bad Baronet meets Bambi. You'll have seen Chris's review, I thought it was a bit better than that but still thought there's a lot of room for improvement. The concept of a G&S show done with animals in a forest glade was about 95% there, but they concentrated so much on the concept (particularly the visual effect of the ghosts' scene, which was very well done) that every other aspect of the show was completely flat. Dialogue in particular was rendered like a first read-through.

Comments in the Festival Club afterwards were fairly negative. Most were centered around the fact that the concept wasn't delivered through to completion, as Chris said in his review. That's the thing about concept shows - it's all or nothing, you don't get half marks for trying.

Of course we had done our usual trick of out-flanking the rest of the audience by sheer speed in order to get the Table Within Reach Of A Power Point, and had been joined by both the Pinels and the Halls. Singing choruses in public with fun people like that is fun. One day we should tell a performing group to skip the cabaret and just have community singing all night. Oh right, those are pot lucks, we already do them and I rave about them every time.

Derby's cabaret consisted of jokes interspersed with musical numbers. The jokes were the kind that go round the internet every few months but it was fun to predict the punch lines.

At half past midnight I gave the table a nine hour call for rehearsal, which was greeted with a mix of sighs and amusement. There were no other Savoynetters in the club... it's just us young ones (according to someone's definition) that can party all night and rehearse all day.

This morning I was woken by my alarm rather than being alerted by it after waking early. Maybe I'm not quite so young. But it's worth it. Hearing the chorus bits of Yeomen done by some of the world's best G&S performers is something not to be missed.

It's early days of course, and I'm basically just sitting here doing nothing while the MD puts the cast through their paces. She's obviously very experienced (she's picking up on things I'd never have even noticed) but she looks about 25! Her style of conducting is incredibly precise, and yet she uses her whole upper body to make a movement. Hopefully she's used to it and doesn't wrench a muscle...

Right now it's lunch time and I've just had a cheese and onion pasty. They don't seem to have pies here - pasties form a complete drop-in replacement in a slightly different shape.

It's just about time to call the cast back in so I'll post this and update you on tonight's show later on.


Talldad said...

"I got to stand in for the Second Citizen, who gets slapped in the face by Elsie. She was very apologetic, which must mean I overacted it somewhat. It's what I do."

Why does that remind me of a Batman & Robin graphic meme? :-)

Michael Angelico said...

I'm sure our Elsie will be highly amused at that. :D