East Midlands Theatre’s Phil Lowe headed off to the Nottingham based Dance 4 International Centre for Choreography Studios today to sit and observe a three and a half hour rehearsal of Nottingham Playhouse’s forthcoming production of Neil Simon’s Sweet Charity, music by Cy Coleman and lyrics by Dorothy Fields.
“On arrival I was welcomed by the production stage manager Sharlene and introduced to the director Bill Buckhurst, the choreographer Alistair Davis, assistant choreographer Emily Goodenough, musical director Caroline Humphris and rehearsal pianist Connor Fogel.
As the cast headed off to another studio to do a physical warm up I chatted with Bill Buckhurst and Alistair Davis about my experiences, this website, and about other productions of Sweet Charity. We also chatted about musicals in general and a had hot debate around why the musical Martin Guerre isn’t revived enough. I was happy to mention the privilege of attending professional rehearsals which comes from trust and knowledge and the opportunity to promote shows.
Not only has Nottingham Playhouse’s artistic director Adam Penford encouraged my engagement but also other theatre’s artistic directors such as Nikolai Foster (Curve Theatre) and Sarah Brigham (Derby Theatre). Simon Harper has also been invaluable with his dance connections and personal encouragement.
I joined the main cast to watch and admire a song and dance number from the latter part of the show being ‘cleaned up’ to use a choreographic term. Both Alistair Davis and Emily Goodenough fined tuned the dance and decided on the best ways for the space to be used in the ‘I’m A Brass Band’ section. Around twenty minutes was dedicated to this work and it was the first opportunity for me to see the majority of the cast in action. They are all very hard working professionals.
Back in the main studio a cast vocal warm up was held by Musical Director Caroline Humphris. The vocal emphasis was on the clarity and strength of the vowels and ending on a solid rendition of the stirring ‘Rhythm Of Life’.
This led to the Sweet Charity surprise party for Charity scene directed by Bill Buckhurst. Bill’s approach focussed on individual performances as well as the group. Overall importance was placed on using the New York accents worked on in previous rehearsals; emphasising the strong vowels and considering the elements of mockery in the vivaciously funny song ‘I Love To Cry at Weddings’. It was suggested that the more character the actors put into it the better the song will come across. Focussing more on the exchanges between characters was vital too. Actor Carl Sanderson’s rendition as Herman was hilarious with such key lines as ‘And all through the service while the bride and groom look nervous tears of joy are streaming down my face…’
Whilst the main cast headed back to a second studio to rehearse ‘Rhythm Of Life’ Rebecca Trehearn (Charity Hope Valentine) and Marc Elliott (Oscar Linquist) remain to go through the next scene with Bill Buckhurst and go over the emotional depiction and impact of Oscar’s surprise revelation and how Charity comes out of it bruised but intact.
I don’t want to say too much about this for fear of a big spoiler alert for those audience members unfamiliar with the book of the musical but suffice to say the actors’ work was exemplary and totally engaging. Bill Buckhurst’s direction was very positive and complimentary as well as helping the actors to get the best out of the scene not only with their emotional intent but their placement in connection to each other. As one of the performers semi jokingly said in an earlier scene – that’s why he is the director. The reviewer cannot wait for press night!”
Many thanks to Nottingham Playhouse for allowing East Midlands Theatre direct access to their rehearsals for Sweet Charity which runs from Fri 31 Aug – Sat 22 Sep 2018.
Rehearsal photos by Darren Bell.
Why not check out a lovely interview with Rebecca Trehearn and Marc Elliott HERE on East Midlands Theatre.
Charity Hope Valentine Rebecca Trehearn
Oscar Marc Elliott
Carmen Cindy Belliot
Elaine Jessica Buckby
Charlie Danny Collins
Manfred Louis Gaunt
Suzanne Emily Goodenough
Helene Carly Mercedes Dyer
Rosie Sinead Long
Frenchy Emanuelle N’zuzi
Nickie Amy Ellen Richardson
Vittorio Vidal Jeremy Secomb
Herman Carl Sanderson
Vittorio Vidal Jeremy Secomb
Daddy Brubeck Shaq Taylor
Ursula Leah West