This is my first blog entry about my time as the Observer Mondays Director on the production of The Producers. Over the next 5 weeks I will be a fly on the wall in the rehearsal room at The Royal Exchange Theatre and gain insight into what it takes to form a huge musical production. The Christmas show at the Exchange is always a highly anticipated event for any Manchester theatre goer and has become a cherished tradition. As I am an emerging director I will closely watch the director Raz Shaw. I feel very lucky to be observing a director that has worked on so many productions and I am hoping to gain knowledge and insight that I can take with me into the future as a director.
I have several questions that I can hopefully find the answers to by observing the rehearsal process. Some are for instance…
- What does it take to stage a production In the round?
- What does the rehearsal process entail for the ensemble cast?
- What does the process entail for the director working alongside the musical director, choreographer and other various creatives on a musical production?
- What problems will the director face during the rehearsal process and how will they resolve them?
During my first day as an observer the day began with a music call for the whole of the ensemble cast. As I have never worked with or observed a show with an ensemble, I am interested in seeing what the process entails for them. The ensemble in a production play such a vital role, theyrole, they are essentially the glue that holds the whole show together. They complete the world that all the characters inhabit and add that extra dimension that enables the audience to fully invest in the show.
During the first part of the morning I sat at a large table in the corner of the room with the Deputy Stage Manager. I took a look at the call sheet which had various calls times throughout the day. The first call was at 10am and the last ended at 9pm. This reminded me just how huge this show is going to be, with a full cast of 17, time is precious and every hour counts.
The first half of the day was spilt into two rooms, the Rehearsal Room and the Music Room. I firstly observed the ensemble cast working with the musical director. The whole of the ensemble sat in a semi-circle with the Musical Director (MD) facing them on the piano. They firstly did a vocal warm-up which sounded phenomenal already and the whole room echoed beautifully. The MD then moved on to the song The King of Broadway. The MD began to sort the arrangement of the chorus with the ensemble cast.
After some time I then switched rooms to observe in the Music Room. Raz was working with the one of principal characters on the same song The King of Broadway with the Musical Supervisor. Now I had no clue what the job of a Musical Supervisor (MS) was, however Raz explained what their job entails. I watched Raz work closely with the MS and the actor on the song. The actor would sing a verse and they would go back to certain parts and discuss the context of the song. For example the time and place, the characters circumstances and the songs overall message. Raz and the MS were fully collaborating and sharing an insight to help guide the actor with the delivery of the song.
After lunch the ensemble cast then worked with the choreographer in the Rehearsal Room. I observed Raz and the Assistant Director work on some text with two of the principle characters. The afternoon mostly involved discussion and reading of the text. It was great to hear the actors and Raz discuss their thoughts on the scene. Raz reminded the actors that right now it’s important to raise as many questions on their characters and the answers will come later.
My first day as an observer I had a great insight at watching different artists work back to back. I have learnt that because the sheer size of this production that the Director, Musical Director and Choreographer will be working independently on certain elements of the show. It’s feels like they are creating the jigsaws pieces individually and eventually they will then begin to put the jigsaw together. And oh my it’s a big jigsaw! I’m really looking forward to watching more of the process.
The Producers runs 30 November 2018 - 26 January 2019, Theatre