LAST MINUTE REHEARSAL.COM
- some thoughts from MARTIN CASH
With just over a week to go before the opening night of “Dick Whittington and his Cat” at the Bryce in Burneside, everyone is now working flat out to get things ready. And it seems there is quite a lot still to do…
Programme notes to be written, final costume alterations to be made, props still to be sourced and scenery to be built and / or painted. But all that is as naught compared to the work required by the cast to bring the script to life. The Cast are still at that in between stage of knowing most of the lines and most of the moves, but not always being able to string the two together. And it’s not helped by having to rehearse on the floor of the hall because the stage is full of scenery being assembled and painted!
Yet each time the cast run through the scenes, it gets that little bit better, that little bit sharper and the lines and moves start to gel.
The cast are getting used to the costumes and the musical numbers are coming along nicely. That’s not to say anyone is complacent. There are always tweaks to be made or words to be changed, all with the aim of delivering a show that really motors along. Nothing kills a pantomime quicker than a scene with little action and where the “jokes” fall flat. This is where these final rehearsals really count as they prune any dead wood and inject life into any scenes that may be flagging slightly.
This is traditionally the time when nerves and tempers start to fray as cast and crew come to terms with what still needs to be done and how little time there seems to be to do it in!
But most have been here before. In some cases over twenty times before! And for every one of those shows, cast have traditionally arrived at the period between Christmas and New Year on a sort of post Xmas downer, convinced it won’t get done in time.
The conversation goes something like this…
Director: Allow me to explain about the theatre business. The natural condition is one of insurmountable obstacles on the road to imminent disaster.
Cast Member: So what do we do?
Director: Nothing. Strangely enough, it all turns out well.
Cast Member: How?
Director: I don't know. It's a mystery.
Admittedly there have been times when the team have run it close – it’s not often cast members get told to watch out for the wet paint as they go on stage on the opening night! Or realising halfway through the first Act that the show is far too long and then proceeding to prune it drastically over the next few nights!
But that’s the beauty of Pantomime. It’s an organic art form which naturally evolves over a run. Ad-libs are tried and may become part of the show if they work. Scene changes become slicker, helping the overall pace of the show. Most importantly, the cast settle into their roles and become confident with their lines. And that confidence comes across in the performance as a positive energy driving the show along. It’s going to be a very busy few days between now and Dress Rehearsal, but, as has been said many times before, “it’ll be alright on the night”.
Dick Whittington will feature 13 local schoolchildren from Burneside, Windermere and Kendal, including Hannah Griffiths who plays Brian the Cat! The production takes place on Friday / Saturday 9th and 10th January, plus Wednesday 14th to Saturday 17th January 2015. Directed by Mark Crook, the popular panto features a number of songs specially written for the show as well as songs from TV show Glee. Adults £8.00, under 16s £6.00 (Conc. £6.00 14th & 15th only)