Morphic Graffiti, Part 37 and news from the rehearsal room

Well its half way through rehearsals in the rehearsal room! That’s not including the time for the get in, sitzprobe and all the technical rehearsals and final dress rehearsal but the time we have as a company to stage everything and learn the show! Where is time flying to? Crazy but already we have seen an incredible amount of work and dedication to the production happening.

So what can I report? Well, Act One is ‘blocked’. We have staged it (with a few gaps!) and on Friday we staggered through the whole act from start to finish. A fantastic, if exhausting day, as it included working through the scene changes that have to be as fluid and clear as the scenes that they link. I don’t mind admitting that this is a complicated show and already we are working through technical details in the rehearsal room. This will hopefully save time and tantrums when we get in to the Arcola and everyone wants more time than will ever be available!

Dance wise, Lee Proud (choreographer) and Anthony Whiteman (Associate Choreographer) are crafting up a storm. Work started in week one on the Act 2 ballet and will continue right up to opening night and, indeed, beyond. Fans of Rodgers and Hammerstein will know of their famous Act 2 ballets, a trend that started with Oklahoma and carried on into Carousel. This beautiful section of the show will be like nothing anyone has seen before! It is simply beautiful!

Choreography and staging is going from strength to strength. I am genuinely in awe of the work that those in these numbers are doing. Lee is blending the traditional with a real sense of edge and dynamic, matching this new “bold” approach to the piece. He is also adding a bit of Agnes De Mille (the show’s original choreographer) so for fans of the traditional, there is some very clever links.

Elsewhere, Andrew Corcoran (MD) and I, together with assistant director James Hume, have been working through scenes and songs. Our cast are truly extraordinary and it is a true honour to work with people so passionate, intelligent and committed. It is incredible the complex, detailed story within the script of Carousel. Each character is incredibly detailed and, what I hope will be unique to this production, we have uncovered moments that will shock, entertain and move people.
It is thrilling and frightening working on such an established piece. So much trust (quite rightly) is laid with the material while making sure that an audience, who are watching it 70 years on from when it was first written, will be engaged and connect to the story. Unlike other musicals, Carousel is told with subtlety and grace. There are painful moments and moments of light relief. It is very much like a rollercoaster (pun intended!) and by the end, you feel you have been on a journey with the characters that walked on stage at the start of the piece. The tragedy and finale of Carousel are famous enough and known by many. To those who do not know the piece, the story must be compelling and hold them to the very end. No pressure then!!

Costumes, set and props are growing in the rehearsal room, to the point that we are looking more and more like the set of Noises Off! It really is so exciting and plenty is going on for you all to watch out for. We had “official” rehearsal photos taken on Friday. We have yet to see them but we will be getting them out next week and have also been visited by a New York One. This US TV channel are doing a programme on American Musicals in London and were over filming and interviewing last week! All very exciting. If we get a link to it, we will put it on our website.

Plenty more to come as we head towards the opening (gulp!) night. Tickets are selling and we are starting to nudge people to think about booking. Preview tickets (first five shows) are at a reduced price of £15 don’t forget! I can assure you, you will not be disappointed. As we start to move to Act 2, I am already ordering tissues for everyone for the emotional scenes!!

Don’t forget to follow us on facebook too for cast and creative interviews and lots of random Carousel and musical theatre info (some of which will be useful for a pub quiz at some point I am sure!!)


Morphic Graffiti, Part 36 and cast with a special sneak peak!

Well casting is finally announced and we are a week from rehearsals starting! Crazy! To think it was back in August when Stewart and I first started to mute the idea of doing Carousel and here we are 9 months later! It’s like our own little baby is gestating. Although that simile sounds a bit weird.

Anyway, in case you missed the casting here is the full cast in all their gorgeous glory (as taken from our Press Release drawn up by Mark Senior PR – thanks Mark)

Gemma Sutton will star as Julie Jordan and Tim Rogers will star as Billy Bigelow.The cast also features Amanda Minihan as Nettie Fowler, Vicki Lee Taylor as Carrie Pipperidge, Joel Montague as Enoch Snow, Valerie Cutko as Mrs Mullin, Richard Kent as Jigger Craigin, Paul Hutton as The Starkeeper, Susie Porter as Louise and Michael Carolan as Enoch Snow Jr. The cast also includes Joseph Connor, Katrina Dix, Anton Fosh and Charlotte Gale.

Gemma Sutton most recently appeared in Blues In The Night at Hackney Empire. Other recent credits include Drunk at the Bridewell Theatre, Roxie Hart in Chicago at Leicester Curve, Amber in the UK Tour of Hairspray, covering the role of Elle Woods in Legally Blonde at the Savoy Theatre, Laurey in the UK Tour of Oklahoma! and Gone With The Wind at the New London Theatre. Tim Rogers was last seen on stage as the title role in Morphic Graffiti’s production of Jekyll and Hyde at the Union Theatre. Other credits include the UK Tour of Aspects of Love and Whistle Down the Wind at the Palace Theatre. Amanda Minihan is currently filming the feature film adaptation of London Road. Recent theatre credits include Merrily We Roll Along at the Harold Pinter Theatre, She Loves Me at Chichester Festival Theatre and Sister Act at the London Palladium. Vicki Lee Taylor recently played Amber in Hairspray at Leicester Curve. Other recent credits include Maggie in A Chorus Line at the London Palladium and the UK Tours of The Witches of Eastwick, Guys and Dolls and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. Joel Montague has just appeared in Urinetown at St James Theatre, with other recent credits including the UK Tours of The Rocky Horror Show and Sister Act. Valerie Cutko recently appeared in Cabaret at the Savoy Theatre with other credits including Gay’s The Word at Finborough Theatre. Valerie has also previously appeared in My Fair Lady and The Phantom of the Opera in the West End, and Grand Hotel on Broadway. Richard Kent’s recent credits include Anything Goes at Kilworth House, The Go Between at West Yorkshire Playhouse and Wicked at the Apollo Victoria Theatre. Paul Hutton’s recent credits include the UK and New Zealand Tour of Unmythable and Mack and Mabel at Southwark Playhouse. Susie Porter’s recent credits include Le Nozzi di Figaro and La Rondine at the Royal Opera House. Michael Carolan makes his professional debut in Carousel having recently graduated from Arts Educational Schools.”

If only that was everything done!! That is in fact the very beginning. As mentioned the rehearsals begin next week with so much work to be done in the rehearsal room working with the cast directly. Perhaps the most complicated sequence so far is the opening Carousel Waltz. Eight minutes of blissfull music but with no lyrics sung or dialogue written for it, it is a huge piece of storytelling that will take an immense amount of rehearsal and patience!!

As director, my main priority at this precise moment is the rehearsal schedule. Not going to lie, I dread it a bit as you suddenly realise how short a four and a half week rehearsal period is, but at the same time, its great to make sure every moment has the time to be explored, discovered and perfected. We have to balance acting and music calls with the huge amount of dance rehearsals needed for a show like this (think about ‘June is Bustin Out All Over, Blow High, Blow Low and the ballet to name but a few!!) but everything is achievable! The great thing about working with Lee Proud, after last year’s Sherlock project, is knowing how each other works and with the addition of Andrew as MD, we are all on the same page about direction we are heading and how everything will work to telling this one, amazing story.

So what else is going on? Well the design is signed off and currently under construction, being overseen by our Production Manager, Thomas Moore. Aspects of the set are being constructed in his workshop up in Leicester while other bits are being constructed in London. Owing to the demands of the production, by the end of the first week, all major pieces of set and all props will be in the rehearsal room so the cast and creative team have plenty of time to work everything through.

Costume work is in full flow. No sooner had the cast agreed to join us on the journey, than measurements were being taken, sewing machines started up and wardrobe plots finalised. This ‘plot’ is a giant (literally!) spreadsheet that says who is wearing what, wear and gives us time to make sure costume changes can happen in time.

To give our loyal blog readers a sneak peak, I have twisted Stewart’s arm for one of his beautiful designs:

Mrs M

Intrigued?! Hope so! I won’t go into any detail about the design but it is going to be something a little different.

What else is there to report? Well, we now look to the programme and how that is going to work. After the success of our programme for The Revenge of Sherlock Holmes! (so many lovely comments about our huge ‘newspaper’ style layout) we are now working on something even more special for Carousel.
That brings quite nicely to our Kickstarter campaign.

Kickstarter is a new and innovative way for people to invest in events and products in return for gifts and rewards. If you have never heard of it, give it a google or click on the link below for our Kickstarter page. We are striving to raise £4000 towards the cost of staging Carousel and there are some very special rewards to our backers. Any support is very very gratefully received. No matter how big or small!

Plenty more exciting Carousel bits and pieces to follow in the next few weeks. Look out for our online adverts, pieces of editorial and if you have not yet seen our teaser trailer check it out on the Carousel official website

Don’t forget to book your tickets! June is hurtling ever closer and it is definitely gonna be Bustin!!!

Luke x
Twitter: @carousel2014