Amid cheers, tears, laughter, grateful thanks and a huge amount of pride the curtain came down on Melabeau’s production of Into the Woods Jr last night. And what a last night it was! What a run it was! And if I may quote every wannabe on the X-Factor, Strictly, BGT et al… What a journey it was!
I honestly don’t think Julie Barker (our amazing Musical Director) and I fully realised just how ambitious a piece it is for a young group until we really got into rehearsals. And the Melabeau Junior Company is very young – our youngest member just 8 and our oldest had her 16th birthday on the day of our dress rehearsal. The score is the same as the adult version, just the libretto is shorter with the ‘adult’ content taken out. No adjustments are made for young voices. But we knew the talent we were working with and set to it. We rehearsed for five afternoons during the first week of the school holidays, then everyone went away; coming back only five weeks before the show to rehearse on Sunday afternoons. Now that’s not much rehearsal time in anyone’s book but – Hey! – We’re Melabeau!!
Being back at the Brentwood Theatre was lovely. The whole atmosphere is welcoming, friendly and thoroughly professional. A much nicer experience for a lot of our young cast after the indescribably awful time some of them who were in our panto had (at what has to be the most horrible hell-hole of a “theatre” in the whole country). We have done three successful productions at the Brentwood now and I certainly look forward to doing more. David Zelly, Mark Reed and their team are a joy to work with.
Feedback from our audiences and three theatre bloggers who came to watch was positive and encouraging. The biggest criticism was the length – or lack of it! – of the show – just over an hour. But we can only work with the libretto – and the terms of the licence forbid any changes or additions. Mr Sondheim is rightly protective of his work! But, I firmly believe in the old saying – Leave them wanting more.
A huge WELL DONE to all my lovely cast. You were sooo good! Just a couple of you need to work on discipline and listening. Remember – actors learn by listening! And a huge THANK YOU to all the parents, who got them to rehearsals, driving through the rush-hour traffic all week to get them to the theatre. We had to hold the curtain for Friday’s performance as the whole of the A12-A127-M25 triangle was gridlocked, made worse by a further accident in Brentwood High Road and the closure of the Ongar Road due to roadworks and cast and audience were having trouble arriving. But that’s showbiz!
So, after a long lie-in this morning, I’ve had a leisurely breakfast and am now going for a walk to buy the paper. I’ve got my usual after-show-anticlimax-feeling. But at least now it will be back to the keyboard to get on with The Banjo. Or I could always do some housework…..
Now the thought of that’s just cleared my writer’s block!!