“Joseph” – Out of the Desert (Part 2)

Camel caravan in a desert

So, there we were: show week.  For 15 weeks it had been sitting on the far horizon just beyond our reach and nicely out of view.  Now that reprieve was over and it was right there in front of us shining with its jazz hands glittering in the spotlight.  Or something like that.  Whether you like the metaphor or not it was right there coming at us like a steam roller.  Ok, enough.

The thing was that those of us on the creative team had seen its shadow looming and heard the roar of the feedback some weeks before.  We had tried so hard to remind everyone that it was coming and would not be stopped.  The notebook had been out in full glory and it had started to look like dividends would be paid.  And then again there just didn’t seem to be that spirit of urgency that us creatives were feeling.  Other people might refer to it instead as clinical stress.  I call it creative fever.  Desperate were we to get the whole production over the line yet happy was everyone else to plod on to the finishing line like Brummy Wildebeest from the days of Just So.  Oh how hard it was to stay calm and enjoy “the process” from T (thereabouts) to Z (err, Zuper?)  Thank goodness for prayer and jelly beans.

Jelly beans (by L Taylor)

 

So there we were.  Dress rehearsal day.  The set was already built and standing in its theatrical glory.  The pyramids were set onto the blue sky background and cunningly covered up by the black back-cloth (with its tasteful yet accidental tie-dye effect).  The doorway disguised as a Bible was in place and ready to be opened to reveal Joseph in his opening dream sequence.  The giant Pharaoh’s head was painted and waiting in the wings with Joseph’s glorious chariot of gold.  So much promise and potential waiting to be brought to life.  Dress rehearsal day was the day of delivery for two other important pieces of set: the steps and the chaise lounge.

You will remember my excitement and trepidation in forming the Joseph Children’s Choir for the show.  The whole plan had hinged on them being able to sit on raised steps which would sit at stage height and rise above the stage so they could always be seen by the audience (and could also see the on-stage action too).  This had started to look like an impossibility.  We were trying to think of other ways to create height differentials but none of them filled me with excitement or anything other than dread.  Then I remembered a very nice man mentioning that he might be able to ask for a loan of some stage steps from the school where he works (Thank you, Alex!).  The possible problems were too many to consider.  What size would the steps be?  Would they be high enough?  Small enough?  Bright green (always a possibility although admittedly unlikely)?  Yet, on that fair dress rehearsal day (actually I think it was raining but go with it for a moment), he came up trumps and with a little help from the man with the van (thank you, Gary!) the much-longed for steps arrived. 

In the words of someone in the cast of “Cinderella”: “it fits”!  Ok, the grammar is bad and poor but it was amazing to see them in situ.  The steps were exactly as I had visualised and within 2 inches of the space we had on the stage for them.  They were not a funny colour but black, just like the rest of our stage, and they were the perfect height.  Not too high so that anyone on them would suffer from vertigo but not so small that the Choir would never been seen by anyone beyond the front row.  They fitted the space perfectly and allowed us to have them on a slight angle exactly as I had originally planned (and drawn in my notebook).  I have never before thought of steps as an object of beauty but, on that day, I did.  I really did.  I practically hugged them.  The steps, that is. 

Not just did the steps arrive in their glory (and they have been photographed enough that they will never be forgotten) but another critical piece of stage kit also arrived that day.  For weeks we had been asking around for anyone with a chaise lounge to come forward.  Yes, it was a long shot.  A very long shot, but you never know and if you don’t ask, you don’t get.  Nothing had come up.  We were debating how to make a garden chair and a footstool look like a chaise and be sturdy enough to be stood on safely by one Mrs Potiphar during a rather vigorous dance routine as she seduces Joseph.  However, little known to us, a very nice man (thank you, Philip!) was ringing around all the local charity shops and anywhere he could think of to see if anyone had a chaise lounge we could borrow for the week.  He clearly had a wonderfully persuasive manner and, after many calls, won over a local charity who just happened to have a blue chaise in one of their furniture sales shops.  So there it was, a beautiful, traditional, blue chaise lounge.  Ours for the week for the price of a donation and some notifications.  Every night it made a starring appearance in the Potiphar number and, like the steps, has paraded its face in front of our cameras enough that it too will stay in the Barnstormers’ archives long after its return to the shops.

And so it was that the final set was ready.  All that remained was the big workshop day, dress rehearsal, technical set up and rehearsal, extra costume run and then, the big day.  Curtain up.

To be continued….

[Photo of “Camel caravan in a desert” by m_bartosch: http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=681 ]

Joseph – Week 15 rehearsal plan (LAST WEEK BEFORE SHOW WEEK!!!)

Hello everyone!

Right, this is it.  Our last week of rehearsals before the show.  That means we are now down to just two rehearsals before the dress rehearsal and only a maximum of four rehearsals left before the show!!  Yikes!!  So please work hard, check all the points below to make sure you don’t miss something and ASK if you are unsure what you are doing!

Everyone is needed at ALL rehearsals from now on.  Don’t forget that it doesn’t just affect you if you don’t turn up but it is extremely off-putting to the other members of the cast so please make every effort to attend.

This week

Again the focus will be on tidying up and running the show through each night.  Please help out with getting chairs out, band set up and getting to the right places quickly (including listening out for the end of the song before you are on and waiting in the wings to come on with any props that you need).  Please bring AND wear the shoes you are planning to use for the show so we can check if there are any problems with them.

Props

Nearly all the props will be available from Thursday evening so if you are meant to bring something on please look carefully for it in advance and bring it on with you.  I will briefly go through the items on the props tables before we start.  In particular, Wives the pots, baskets etc will be available so please collect them before your entrance for Jacob & Sons.  We will try and have some of the material available for those who are “sewing” instead.  If you don’t have a prop because there is nothing left for you please tell me at a suitable break so we can arrange this for Friday’s run.  Blankets will be available for some of you for Go Joseph so please grab one or use your own (see my earlier email) and don’t mime unless we have run out – we particularly need to sort this as we need to practice you throwing them all off!

Scenery/stage – entrances and exits

The stage and set crew have done an excellent job of getting most of the set finished and fixed ready for our rehearsals this week (big thanks once again to the wonderful team J)  Unless you have a specific entrance or exit from the audience (such as the Camel/Ishmaelites or the Guards or Choir and Narrator from the front of stage right) please DO NOT climb on the stage from the audience or use the gap on stage right to get into the wings.  Everyone will need to allow extra time to go through the Church and to cross behind the stage during the numbers so you can enter from stage right and/or stage left.  This is the best way for you to get used to how long it will take on the night – especially given you have to grab props!

Please be careful backstage.  Be helpful and considerate towards one another.  Please let people and props off the stage before you attempt to come on!

Costumes

Please can everyone in the cast bring everything that you are providing for your costume (including shoes) and make sure you see the costume team before rehearsals on either Thursday or Friday evening.  Caroline will be available upstairs from 6.30pm both days.  Please use the main entrance on Thursday (not the fire exit) as the dance group will be in until 7.30pm and be aware that there is also a meeting for the Church Voyager’s group from 6.45pm so keep the noise down.

In particular, please can the following see Caroline on Thursday before rehearsals to try on all your costumes but specifically the following (please don’t all arrive at 7.15pm – please spread out from 6.30pm):

Seb – Joseph (both Act 1 and Act 2)

Sheila – Brother, Go Jo and Pharoah’s Servant

Paul – Brother, Go Jo & Fat Cow

Ann – Wife, Potiphar Quartet and Pharaoh servant costumes

Rachael B – Wife, Potiphar Servant, Go Joseph, Cheerleader and Corn/star dancer

Bob – Jacob & Potiphar Quartet

Mandy – Narrator and Potiphar Quartet

Ruth – Narrator

Hannah T – Benjamin & Thin cow & Go Jo

Natalie – Benjamin’s Wife & Cheerleader & Go Jo

Bert – Levi & Potiphar servant

John – Potiphar

Clare J – Potiphar’s Wife & Jacob’s Servant

Stephen – Guard (Act 1 and Act 2) & Camel

Becky H – Ishmaelite & Go Joseph

Paula G – Butler & Go Jo costume

Katy G – Wife and cheerleader

Gary – Fat Cow & Brother

James – please can you make sure you visit the costume team on Friday re Pharoah

Everyone else please see the costume team on Friday (unless you can’t get there early in which case please go Thursday or as soon as you arrive on either night)  If you don’t have everything please check with them again what you are meant to be providing.

Pom-poms

Does anyone have a collection of gold, blue, silver or white pom-poms or shiny wigs?  The costume team are still hunting down the pom-poms for the cheerleaders.  If you can help please contact Caroline Cadlock.

Pit Singers

Pit Singers please bring your “costume” for the dress rehearsal.  You will need black shoes, black trousers (or long black skirt) and a brightly coloured top, ideally a Barnstormers t-shirt if you have one.  If you have music stand lights you may also find these helpful for the dress rehearsal.  Some lights may be available but torches are not appropriate.

Thursday 19 April

At 7.15pm – All Stars & Corn dancers from Joseph’s Dreams (downstairs in Church to practice with Margaret)

At 7.30pm – Everyone please (including Pit Singers and Joseph Choir) to work through & run the show [Choir – finish time of 9pm]

Friday 20 April

At 7pm, Nick and Rachel to work tango

Our Barnstormers prayer group will be meeting in the room on the left at the top of the stairs from 7.10-7.30pm on Friday.

At 7.30pm – Everyone please (including Pit Singers and Joseph Choir) to work through numbers as needed before running the entire show

Saturday 21 April

Everyone will be needed during the course of the afternoon (1-5pm), including the Choir and Pit Singers.  Exact arrival times will be confirmed over the next couple of days so please listen carefully to announcements and check your emails for confirmation.  Please arrive from 6pm for the dress rehearsal to have time for changing, make-up and photos.  Refer to Bert’s email for further details.

Advance notice – please continue to keep Tuesday 24 April free for a full run-through.  We are expecting to use this as a complete run which will be the only opportunity some of you will have to practice with your costumes.  This will be every bit as important as the dress rehearsal as it will be the first time the full lights and sound will be available so please make sure you are available.

Now is the time to concentrate, make notes if you need to remember something, check with one of us if there is something you are unsure of and get used to using props/scenery etc.  Please keep up the hard work and really focus on these last few rehearsals so we can put on a fantastic show.

From the Producer – April 2012

Good Afternoon Folks,
 
“Joseph” – the Final Countdown
 
We are in the final month and preparations for the four performances are hotting up with non-stop run throughs for the cast, creative work for costume and set/props construction, assembly of teams for the other off stage roles with everyone focussed on putting on a great show for the 400+ people who will be coming to watch.
 
Tickets
 
We have sold over 80 tickets for Thursday night which fully justifies the extra performance. There are now, however, a few tickets available for Friday night as a result of some people swapping to Thursday. 

Stage Out
 
I have previously asked for volunteers to help me get the stage blocks out of the cupboard on Easter Monday. To date I haven’t had a single offer. I originally said I was planning to do it in the afternoon but I can’t do that now so are there 5 or 6 people  available to help from 10.30 am? It will only take 2 hours, at the most, as we only have to stack the blocks at the back of the hall for the backstage crew who will be coming in on the following Saturday to set the stage and set up (see below for further details). 

Make-Up

 
I’m delighted to say that we have now got a full team so thanks to those who have rejoined and welcome to the newcomers – it’s great to have you on board.
 
Costume
 
If you haven’t sorted yourself out with the Costume team please do so next week.
 
Dates
 
Don’t forget we will be back to 2 rehearsals a week from next week. Final dates are as follows;
 
Thursday 12/4, 7.30 pm  – Rehearsal
Friday      13/4    ”                  ”
Saturday  14/4    ”          – Stage & set construction all day. Jill has a good team already but if you would like to help, contact Jill

Thursday  19/4   ”           – Rehearsal

Friday       20/4  ”                   ”

Saturday   21/4 1.00 pm  – Pre-Dress Rehearsal Workshop
     ”            ”    7.30 pm  – Dress Rehearsal

Sunday     22/4  1.00 pm  – Technical Set-Up

Monday     23/4  7.00 pm –  Technical Rehearsal

Tuesday    24/4  7.30 pm –  Final Rehearsal

Thursday   26/4  1.00 pm –  Hall, changing areas etc set-up.

Thursday   26/4  7.30 pm –  Performance

Friday       27/4  7.30 pm –         ”

Saturday   28/4  2.00 pm –         ”

     ”            ”     7.30 pm –         ”

 

Note:

 

  • Cast members, please make every effort to get to all the remaining rehearsals but, if you can’t, please let Louisa know asap.
  • Photographs, in costume, will be taken immediately prior to the dress rehearsal.
  • General help won’t be needed for the technical set-up and rehearsal but individuals may be asked!
  • On performance days, would cast please arrive 1.5 hours before curtain up and go straight to make-up. They have a lot of people to do so please don’t leave it until the last minute.
  • If any of the above dates or times change, Louisa or I will let you know.

 
Easter In Church
 
There will be two services over the weekend. The first will be on Good Friday at 10.30 am and will feature drama and other contributions from the younger members of the Church and the Choir will be singing. On Easter Sunday the service will also be at 10.30 am when the Choir will, again be singing to, and with, the Congregation.The services will also be supported by the Church Orchestra. Please come, if you can, to join in with this very important weekend in the Church calendar.
 
Greater Than Gold
 
This is something that I have mentioned previously – it is a drama being led by our own Minister, Andrew, and I have attached a letter from him giving further details. It’s something that Barnstormers members could certainly contribute to so, if you want to be involved, contact Andrew 

AGM
 
Just a reminder that the meeting will be held on Friday 29 June at 7.00 pm. There will be at least three changes to the Production Team (Caroline Dewar as Christmas Carol Director, Hannah Pool as Christmas Carol Musical Director and a new Producer to be elected at the meeting) so it would be great if we could have a good attendance to give them your support.
 
Christmas Carol
 
As you are probably aware, this is a licensed production, which needs more rehearsal time than our normal pantos and cabarets. Consequently, we will be starting a month earlier than normal.
 
Read through/auditions – Friday 6 July at 7.30 pm.
Rehearsals start           – Thursday 12 & Friday 13 July at 7.30 pm and twice weekly thereafter.
 
We realise that quite a number of people will have holidays during the rehearsal period but we will have to work around them as best we can.
 
I will be sending a synopsis to you after “Joseph” to give you an idea how the show works and, maybe, you might find a role that you fancy putting your name forward to the Director for consideration.
 
——————————————————————————————————————————————————-
 
I’ve probably forgotten something, I usually do, but there is a lot of information above so it’s best if I sign off now.
 
Have a great Easter everyone and come to next week’s rehearsals refreshed and ready to perform.

Bert

“Joseph” – Choral Reflections

Camel caravan in a desert

The calm remains.  It is an odd feeling.  I have now begun to think that something must have gone horribly wrong after all, but then I look back at my notes and the schedule for this week and realise that it is all ticking along quite nicely, thank you very much.  What I needed to have sketched out for this week is already down there on paper (yes, it is even from Act 2) and we are so well on target that I even managed to get some old posts up onto the website.

The most recent fun has been caused by cyberspace flying on Facebook, email and text to work out whether we had enough interest in our little Children’s Choir to make it viable.  Thanks to huge support from some of the Choir-hopefuls, and their willing parents, we just managed to find a small group of very excited and enthusiastic girls (I dare not call them “children”) that will do very nicely as our happy little choir for the show.  It would have been a personal disaster had we not managed to find such a suitable brood. 

You see my vision for the show begged for cheeky, smiling faces to look up at Joseph and the Narrators with wide-eyed innocence sporting the biggest smiles you have ever seen.  Without the Choir half the show would need re-staging to cover the gaps where the Choir would have been.  My detailed planning would have fallen apart and heralded a new season of chaos.  For now at least, all’s well that ends well.  

Friday marks our very first rehearsal with the Choir bringing with it both excitement and trepidation (in case no-one actually turns up – it is half-term after all).  The word sheets are all prepared and only need to be photocopied tonight which should be a straight-forward task so as long as the Producer is not let loose on the task again (if it were it a pantomime I would “boo” him with great conviction…sorry, Mr Producer).  Once this is all done we just have to arrive on time (hoping and praying that the traffic is light and no medical emergencies arrive for our in-house doctor) and then we are off and running.

In the meantime, I’ve been playing around with the spice and herb pots again.  This time it was because I needed to use the contents.  You would not believe how difficult it was to get the contents of Matt and Mandy out of the jars and into my curry.  Don’t try this at home, kids.

 

[Photo of “Camel caravan in a desert” by m_bartosch: http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=681 ]

“Joseph” – Oh, Fickle World!

Camel caravan in desert

The world of a director is a fickle one.  Several weeks pass in a frenzy of chaotic CD listening and prancing around on the kitchen floor (much to the dismay of one pet dog who is determined to take us both off for an evening walk) and then, suddenly, peace reigns again.  Has something gone wrong?  Has the enthusiasm for this crazy project finally waned for good?  No, it is simply preparation paying off.

Act 1 is all on paper (yes, believe it or not, it is true) and most of it has now been sung, staged and danced.  Although we’ll need to work through it a few more times until we reach performance standard it is already starting to be great fun to watch and the cast’s enthusiasm rolls off the front of the stage (well, over the tops of the children’s plastic chairs we are using to mark out the stage area). 

The wonderful ladies of the wardrobe have spent two delightful evenings listening to my excessively enthusiastic monologue on costumes and have now set off to seek out the goods.  The goods so far are looking extremely impressive – can’t wait until we start seeing them come to life on the cast. 

And then, on one bitterly cold night before the snows set in, I met with the delightful creative team behind the set and prop design over a cuppa or two.  After a few strange looks we started to come up with some plans.  Not helped, I have to add, by the keen footballer supporters running in and out of the room at a moment’s notice or by the incessant beeping of our mobile phones.  Ah, but creativity cannot be reigned in by even the most intense distractions and on we marched into the deep world of scenery development. 

It was not long until I realised that I do not have measuring skills.  I had not brought a tape measure and had not worked out the size of the stage versus the size of the scenery I was suggesting.  Nor had I thought through all the practicalities.  I genuinely didn’t think there was anything wrong with considering the possibility of a full-scale revolve in the centre of the stage or a hydraulic lift sequence built into our humble wooden stage.  I mean, who would?  With that grander vision put to one side we started out on the more interesting things like how to develop an over-sized giant Bible or how to give life to skeleton sheep.  And did I mention what colour pyramids we are going for?  It seems dusky pink is not appropriate. 

Of course, this is a kind of calm before: “The Storm: Part 2″.  Act 2 might be in my head but it is not on paper and definitely needs to be.  If we have enough interest in our little Children’s Choir I’m going to need to get moving with the rest of the staging for them.  The programme is calling for my attention and there will be plenty more discussions on costumes, staging, lighting, singing, dancing, etc still to come.  But, I will enjoy every minute while it lasts.  Where is that book I’ve been saving?

[Photo of Camel Caravan in Desert by Digitalart: http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=2280 ]

 

“Joseph” – A Feasting Story

Camel caravan in desert

Week 4 of rehearsals.  The passage of time is frightening, isn’t it?  I wonder if that’s how Joseph felt as the weeks, months and years rolled by while he wasted away in prison?  Unlike Joseph we’ve all chosen to be part of this machine known as “Joseph”.  I, for one, have not been wasting away but have instead used rehearsals and prep time as an excuse for tucking into the leftover Christmas chocolates, Friday fry-ups and everything else that is less than good for one’s health.  So far my cunning plan seems to be working and the scales have not bitten back with a nasty reading of weight gain.  All is well.

Joking aside it is vital to keep up energy levels especially when the preparation for rehearsals takes up the other three weekday evenings and at least part of one day at the weekend.  I don’t think I have ever felt quite so schizophrenic as when I am trying to be every character on stage at once.  It is, as you can imagine, quite a draining experience.  Thank goodness that we have some outstanding chefs on the Production Team guaranteeing me a wonderfully tasty and nutritious home-cooked meal every few weeks.  There might also be a glass of wine involved.

Our last Production team meeting revolved around the wonderful creation below, known as an Annlentsagne:

Annlentsagne (by L Taylor)

 

It is quite simply divine.  A luxurious take on the humble lasagne made with lentils, spices and all sorts of other culinary secrets that could not be divulged even by the chef herself.  Served with a classic green salad, garlic bread and a singular glass of wine it was unbeatable as the cries of “mmm” at the table would attest.  I won’t mention here that someone not too far away got the giggles over the number of times she uttered the “mmm” word or how hard it was to hold it back.  I’m sure you have no idea who I mean.

Not only did we have this wonderful creation but it was followed by a heavenly dessert whose contents I am bound by oath not to reveal.  I can tell you that the centre was packed with home-grown blackberry jam and topped with lashings of…no, not ginger beer (honestly)…of cream.  Beauty itself.

Ann Sponge (by L Taylor)

With so much  energy-producing food around it is hardly any wonder that we have almost finished our initial journey through Act 1.  Of course there is still a long way to go.  Lyrics need to be remembered, harmonies might need just the tiniest bit of recapping and the staging/dancing will need regular refreshing to ensure none of the little details are forgotten.  But I think we can happily celebrate how far we have come in only eight rehearsals and be justly proud of the hard work and dedication going in to putting on an amazing production.

Here’s to all you have achieved so far and all we are going to achieve over the coming weeks.  In the words of good old Cliff: “CON-GRAT-U-LATIONS!”  Must be time for a late-morning donut.

Empty Plate (L Taylor)
 
 

[Camel Caravan in Desert photo by Digitalart: http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=2280 ]