Day One: Carousel, March 2012.
I'll be honest - I'm feeling a little hazy. I opened with a new production of Parsifal last night in Copenhagen at the Royal Danish Opera as Assistant Director for Keith Warner. 11 weeks of rehearsal culminated in a thrilling opening night, followed by a fine first night party (!), preceded by a 5am cab...a flight, the London underground, Kings Cross to Leeds on a train and finally, a cab to Stage Door. What's that you say? Wagner to Rodgers and Hammerstein? LAWKS! Now there's a sea-change!
It is utterly brilliant to be back with this company of talented, sparky and innovative individuals. I first worked here last year on Jo Davies' acclaimed production of Ruddigore. Crisp flying text, sharp and witty dance routines, musical numbers that flip you onto the crest of a wave...and a movie during the overture as a fantastic "time-line" in to the piece. What's not to like?! This time however, we are on a different mission: Carousel. Rehearsing the Carousel Waltz - the epic number which opens the musical and creates the feel of the world we are about to enter and inhabit - is a mega-task. It takes detailing in the most intricate of manners. It takes patience. A touch of trial and error. A little more trial (error now removed) and then a flash of inspiration! I think we must have rehearsed this 5 minute section of the musical for approximately 20 hours in total - well worth every second - it still takes my breath away and we are all so proud of it as a company.
So, what do I actually do? As assistant director, I schedule all the various rehearsals that take place each day, I create the production book - writing the "blocking"/the moves that each cast member makes in a scene, I take notes for the Director, I work with the Chorus, the Dancers, the Actors, the Children, I am a link between the Production Team and the Company, I direct second casts and Understudies and I rather hope that I keep every rehearsal room I am in, a buoyant and happy place to be. I also look after the shows once we have opened and when on "show duty", I take notes and help to keep the performances as fresh and as vibrant as on the very first night.
In "prep" before I start a new production, I will learn the piece, ideally by heart, create an overview schedule, be in planning meetings with the Director and Designer and familiarise myself with every potential aspect of the piece: costume designs, props we will need, timings of each number and who is to be in which scenes. Dependent on which language we are working in, I will do a word-for-word translation in my score.
And so from months of Carousel back to where I began here at Opera North, with a new tour of Ruddigore…My diary this year has been continuous - I left home on 7th January and have not yet returned to my own bed! January to March was Parsifal, March to May was Carousel, May to June is Ruddigore, June to July is Andrea Chenier at the Bregenz Festival in Austria, August, September, October is The Ring Cycle at Covent Garden and November, December is Mathis Der Maler in Vienna. I am married to DJ and Events Planner Guy Stevens (my "magic husband") and we have a beautiful daughter, Phoebe - both travel with me whenever they can, and we have an exhausting but incredibly rewarding life. Thanks for having me again Opera North, I am proud to be part of such a joyous troop!