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!!) http://www.facebook.com/carousel2014

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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!
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/morphicgraffiti/join-morphic-graffiti-on-their-carousel-this-june/backers

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 http://www.carousel2014.com.

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

Luke x

http://www.facebook.com/carousel2014
Twitter: @carousel2014

Morphic Graffiti, Part 35 and seven hour pork!

 

Firstly, Happy Easter to all our blog readers. I have sat down post Sunday Roast of ‘seven hour pork shoulder’ (as good as it sounds!) and in my gentle food coma thought I would write an update.

 

If you follow us on twitter or facebook, and you definitely should (#carousel2014 and /carousel2014), then you won’t fail to know that we had our auditions for Carousel last week. Benjamin Newsome, our wonderful casting director, was at the helm and we were genuinely blown away with everyone that came to audition. Thank you to everyone who came and saw us, and thanks to Nathan and Rebecca for playing and reading for auditions.

 

We had a fantastic week with the creative team. Andrew Corcoran (MD) was on all things musical and had the difficult task of ensuring that the cast not only work as individuals but that as a whole, the complex harmony work in Carousel is fully achieved. Lee Proud and Anthony Whiteman oversaw the dance calls with Lee’s choreography pushing our auditionees to the max! The short excerpt was taken from June is Bustin Out all Over and my goodness, bustin out it certainly was! So much so one dancer popped out to be sick, grabbed a swig of water then threw themselves back in to the audition room like a pro.

 

With a huge selection of Rodgers and Hammerstein, Bernstein and Noel Coward being sung, the audition days whizzed by and left us with a very difficult chat at the end as to which casting direction to take. With the vocal and dance demands of the show and the complexities of the characters in the story, it is going to take an extraordinary cast to pull it off. We have no doubt we have found them and cannot wait to formally announce them. You will not be disappointed!!

 

Aside from the ‘glamour’ of casting, this week also saw Luke and Stewart sitting around the set model with Production Manager Thomas Moore to work through the logistics of Stewart’s design. This particular meeting was six hours long and fuelled with mini eggs and tea but each meeting is integral to understanding how the set and on stage action link together. Unlike any other Morphic Graffiti production, this is by far the most complex. Anyone who knows Carousel and the stunning opening to it (the seven minute ‘Carousel Waltz’) there are already a million and one things to consider, not least the Carousel itself! That is before we have involved any on stage action with the cast!

 

So you can see it’s a hectic but very exciting time behind the scenes. We are working closely with QNQ with some more marketing material which is coming out soon, as well as the very exciting Casting announcement. Everything on the physical production side (set, costume and props etc) is being budgeted and finalised with key set components being signed off for full scale construction! We have also been fortunate Thomas has created some CGI renderings of the set (very exciting and high tech for my little brain!) so we can see how the set model can actually be securely realised.

 

What we can say for now is there are a few surprises coming with this production, as promised! It wouldn’t be a Morphic Graffiti show without some twists and turns! I am desperate to show you some of Stewart’s designs but he will kill me so I shall just, for now, sign off and go back to my chocolate egg!

 

Happy Easter and check out our show website http://www.carousel2014.com

 

Luke

 ps. Seven hour pork shoulder – the easiest recipe and the best results EVER! Two easy steps

1. Take a pork shoulder. Score the fat and season. In oven at 210 degrees for 30 mins. Cover in foil and bake in oven at 150 degrees for 6 and a half hours. Baste half way through. Perfection.

2. Book your Carousel seats before you forget!

Morphic Graffiti, Part 34 and the BIG announcement!!

Carousel1Hoorah!! It is with enormous pleasure and relief that Stewart and Luke can finally announce that the next Morphic Graffiti production will be Rodgers and Hammerstein’s CAROUSEL! Wow – all that waiting! You’d think we had been planning global domination and a revival of Cats or something!!

In all seriousness, the past few months have been a labour of love and we have been working alongside some incredible people to get the production lined up for a season at the Arcola Theatre. This beautiful venue is perfect for our ‘reimagining’ of the story of Carousel and are looking forward to a brilliant time over in Dalston with the team at the theatre!

So what can you expect from Morphic Graffiti? Well, the answer is hopefully something that is going to shed a new light on this classic story of Julie Jordan and Carousel barker, Billy Bigelow. Working with Rodgers and Hammerstein Theatricals, we have been exploring this piece ever since Stewart and I hung up our deerstalkers and smoking pipes at the end of The Revenge of Sherlock Holmes!

We have an incredible creative team with us on the show. As with the others, Stewart is designing and I am directing Carousel. We are beyond thrilled to have Lee Proud back choreographing the show which is going to be nothing short of breath-taking. Our music team includes Andrew Corcoran, orchestrations by Mark Cumberland and renowned orchestrator Larry Blank as our Musical Supervisor. Larry’s credits include orchestrating for the Olivier and Tony awards and West End productions of Singing In The Rain, as well as Catch Me If You Can and The Drowsy Chaperone on Broadway. Lighting will designed by Cat Webb (known to Morphic Graffiti followers for her gorgeous work on both Jekyll and Sherlock) and completing the team is West End/Broadway producer Kim Poster as Creative Consultant to the production. Bit of a self-pinch moment there as we both are blown away by the line up!

Casting has yet to be confirmed and auditions are imminent. Ben Newsome is on board as Casting Director and doing a brilliant job. A few people have mentioned casting to us and we would love to hear from anyone who is interested. Drop us an email at casting@morphicgraffiti.com or contact Ben directly.

So what do people make of the poster? It’s a little bit different, but then so is the production! We have been allowed to relocate the setting to 1930 amidst the start of the Great Depression after the Wall Street Crash of 1929. That’s all we’re giving away right now – just to whet your appetite a little. The poster indicates much more about the production than we are saying and there are evn more surprises to come!

The Arcola have only just changed their seating policy and tickets are now being sold for specific seats and not as a ‘general admission’ ticket. This means no queuing up by the entrance for a good seat and you can come to the Arcola and know where you are sitting. It does, however, mean you should book early to avoid any disappointment!
Tickets are available at the Arcola website online at http://www.arcolatheatre.com or over the phone on 020 7503 1646.

So there we are! That’s the news from Morphic HQ! We of course have a million and one things to work on and to share with you as we move towards casting, auditions, set construction, wardrobe fittings, rehearsals…!! The list is endless!
Thank you for your patience and we look forward to seeing you at Carousel

Luke and Stewart

http://www.facebook.com/carousel2014
@carousel2014

Morphic Graffiti, Part 33 and Project X is coming….we promise

Can’t believe Christmas is over! Happy New Year to all the readers of our blog! It’s the 6th January. Everyone is back at work and feeling rather full of too much Christmas cheer. It may be the most depressing day of the year, but we thought we would put a spring in your step and enlighten you on what is going on here at Morphic towers and why we have been so quiet! So if you are work feeling a bit down in the dumps, sit back for a minute and see what goes on to get our next production (that we once only dreamed of) off the ground.

Although we have various things going on at the moment, we are aware that everyone wants to know what the next, big MG production is. For now, we shall refer to it as Project X (the announcement is coming but it’s got to be just right before we announce it!!) About five months ago Stewart and I sat down to make a concrete decision about the next show to follow on from Jekyll and Sherlock. We had been thrilled with the feedback from both and the reviews and audience responses were electrifying. Project X needed to maintain our production standards, increase in scale and also be of interest to our very loyal audiences and attract new people too.

Over the last few months we have had a huge amount of assistance to bring Project X to fruition and to bring a team around it that will make sure this is one of the theatre events of the year! With more meetings and emails than both Sherlock and Jekyll put together, the project is a significant step up from us and will be presented in the most perfect venue for our concept!
Right from the get go there was a title that we both adored as piece of theatre, as a story and as a perfect title to present on stage. Project X is a very well-known piece and, as such, is held in very high esteem by those who hold the rights, and rightly so (see what I did there!). Having met a very prominent figure in the world of Theatrical Rights at one of The Revenge of Sherlock Holmes! performances (who has helped us endlessly but shall remain nameless until we announce the project to avoid giving the game away!) we both got to thinking about whether we would be able to make this happen.

Several new aspects to producing have also arisen on this project that we have not really yet explored as producers but that are extremely exciting. With an increase in scale brings greater emphasis on marketing and press coverage. The venue we have chosen seats some 200 people and needs a bigger marketing campaign than we have used before. We are anticipating using an external Marketing company to assist us and also a press officer to aid them. The venue attracts the big guns when it comes to online and newspaper coverage and is essential for us to spread the word about Project X.

Undoubtedly there have been a lot of questions to us as new producers about how Project X will work and how we envisage the production happening. What we can say is that the piece will be very much as people know it, but with a definite Morphic Graffiti slant. As well as securing the rights, we have been talking to the venue, pulling together what is shaping up to be a rather extraordinary creative team, and starting to look at the marketing of the show and the production image. All this and then you add the budget which is being scrutinised on a daily basis to make sure everything is covered and paid for! It’s no mean feat.

Even though this has taken over our lives, we are still exploring a few other projects which will come to light in due course. We promise that the wait for the next announcement will be worth it and a ticket to see it will be an essential purchase in 2014!! Believe us when we say that we want to shout it from the rooftops but this extensive pre-production period is essential to get everything right. Our email account is gridlocked with very important contractual things although both Stewart and I cannot wait to get back on the creative elements of the show. Stewart is itching to get started on the set model and I cannot wait to sit down with the casting director and flesh out these wonderful and complex characters.

Last thing……in the spirit of all things Sherlock (what with our last production and with the new episodes on the BBC!) we would not be our cheeky selves if we didn’t leave you just the smallest of clues as to the title of Project X. But if you solve it, keep it quiet ;0)

Luke

Morphic Graffiti, Part 32 and the retrospective view.

Hello all! Apologies for a delayed blog entry. Hope our readers are all well and enjoying the sunshine! Please don’t think we have been sitting in the sun all summer – far from it! Things here at Morphic Graffiti are continually growing and developing. Things just take a little time before they can be properly announced!

So what have we been doing? Well, although we won’t mention projects by name (call it a superstition for us!) we have been having lots of meetings and drinking vast amount of coffee to discuss our next step as a company. Now that the dust has settled on The Revenge of Sherlock Holmes! it is the perfect time to take stock of the project and how everything went.

Working alongside the author of the piece (Leslie Bricusse) and working with him on changes was always a tremendously daunting prospect but proved a wholly rewarding experience for both Stewart and I, and hopefully everyone involved with the piece. The reviews and audience reaction were fantastic. Not only that, but the wonderful front of house team were happy to sneak in and watch the show again and again which is always a very good sign.

In retrospect, it was a huge undertaking with a set that had to fit seamlessly into a Grade 2 listed building, costumes being made from scratch, a cast of twelve with a script that had continual adjustments, puppets, magic tricks, a band of 5 and brand new orchestrations………what a list! But as we look forwards, there is definitely a sense of pushing the goalposts to what we can achieve. When we sat around and first talked about the music hall concept we had visions of Mrs Hudson being sawn in half and the puppets duelling on Reichenbach Falls. With grit, determination and team work they happened!

The puppet prologue on at Reichenbach Falls!

The puppet prologue on at Reichenbach Falls!

Since the production finished, we have sat with the different departments as is now customary, and debrief the project. What worked? More importantly, what didn’t?! For us this has been a useful tool in moving the company forwards. Bearing in mind this was our second project as a company, it is important that we learn as we develop!

We have also had the complex task of returning all the props that we used, sorting out the set in our workshop and cleaning the costumes ready for storage. It took around five hours to do the ‘get out’ from the venue and restoring it to its previous state, and then many more hours to send/drive/clean/dismantle/dust/repaint/store everything from the smallest top hat on the Moriarty puppet to the giant ‘SH’ Sherlock Holmes crest at the top of our purpose built proscenium arch.

So what are we looking at doing next? Well, it will definitely be something theatrical we can say that! We have been in talks about two very contrasting musicals and even a play (a Morphic Graffiti first!) Emails, proposals and site visits are all happening as we have the tricky task of finding the right piece and the right venue that can happen at the same time!. Both Stewart and I agree that all Morphic Graffiti projects must fit the brief that we set ourselves when we created the company. However, as with Jekyll and Sherlock, it must be something that keep our creative juices flowing.

We will keep you posted. All you need know is – it will be worth the wait!!!

Morphic Graffiti, Part 31 and the last Sherlock tonight!

So here we are, lunchtime on the 10th May. The last performance of The Revenge of Sherlock Holmes! at Hoxton Hall and the end of Morpic Graffiti’s second show. Wow! It seems rather incredible to think that the journey to this point has happened so quickly!

Apologies for lack of blogs, every waking moment has been spent on marketing the show, sending emails and chasing various bits and bobs that generally take up ones life during the running of a show!

The past few weeks have been incredibly busy, working on maintaining the show and ‘general managing’ it as the producers. Having been involved in the creative elements, the upkeep of the show has been paramount. Xye and the team (Chris, Ema, Jorja) have been back stage every show, dressing cast members into costumes and wigs and repairing the seemingly endless costumes that in such a fast paced, vibrant show will come under a lot of wear and tear. Even some of the cast have picked up a needle and thread to sew a hem or replace a button, so thank you all!

Xye and Stewart mending Signora Moriarty's big sleeves!

Xye and Stewart mending Signora Moriarty’s big sleeves!

The day to day running of the show is handed over to the cast, band and stage management team who have done an incredible job. Gemma and Camille have run the show like a dream, dealing with prop breakages, stroppy smoke machines and even a LED lamp that decided to not do as it was told and instead flicker like an 80’s disco light in lurid red, blue and green light!

Nathan and the band have performed brilliantly at every show. The occasional ‘dep’ (another musician who covers for one of the band) has come in and blended in with the sound beautifully so that even a perfectionist like me could not tell that someone was playing the show after such a tiny amount of rehearsal time. Thank you band for being brilliant and for improving your “oh dear” shout outs!!!

Whether large, or small, our audiences have been laughing and enjoying themselves over the past month and the feedback from them has been electrifying. Be it the magic, the puppets, the comedy, the band or the choreography, every component part of the production has been praised by audiences and critics alike. We had no idea some 8 months ago if the piece or the concept we had would work, so to see it brought to life has been incredibly rewarding.

Our beloved 'Mary' the skeleton from the brilliiant 'morgue' scene

Our beloved ‘Mary’ the skeleton from the brilliiant ‘morgue’ scene

Tonight is the final performance and then the infamous ‘get out’ where the set, props and costumes all get cleared from the venue. It is a horrible job as whenever you reach a last night, you know that the production, at that venue, will never be performed in the same way again. But, theatre evolves and we have had a fab time at Hoxton Hall and could think of no better venue in the country that we could set this particular version of The Revenge of Sherlock Holmes! (Must give a quick shout out to Michael, Rob and the entire Front of House team at Hoxton who have been amazing!!!)

On a personal note, it has been an amazing journey thus far. I cannot believe how fortunate I am to have worked with and met some incredible people these past 8 months of this project. Not least working with the show’s author, Leslie Bricusse, has been incredible and a relationship Stewart and I hope to continue as Morphic Graffiti expands. I must also say a huge thank you to our sensational creative team and to our cast and band, for embracing the crazy world of Music Hall and letting Morphic Graffiti do something just that little bit different!

Stewart's original set model now realised at Hoxton Hall!

Stewart’s original set model now realised at Hoxton Hall!

As with Jekyll and Hyde, the question I am asked more than ever at the moment is ‘What’s next?’. The answer is definitely ‘something!!’ so watch this space. Morphic Graffiti is a labour of love and Stewart and I want to learn and grow from every production we do. We have already de-briefed with our Technical Manager Sharon and will do the same with all departments to make sure we absorb everything we can from this experience. They say you only learn by doing, and believe me we have learnt so much!

One more tonight then!

sherlb

Luke x