BARNUM: Life In The Circus - 8/25
The journey is nearing its end. In a weeks' time, Barnum closes up shop here in glorious Chichester. The band will pack their instruments. The costumes will be put into storage. Our troupe of beautiful, eccentric, passionate circus freaks will all go their separate ways, and the world will be seriously lacking a well needed dose of humbug! By all means, this is not my attempt to lament on what I'll soon miss dearly. It's your FINAL warning - come and visit us whilst you still can!
The people I've had the good fortune to work with on this show have been amazing.
William Brohn, orchestrator extraordinaire, is now one of my favorite people in the world. The man, now in his 80s, is responsible for some of the most beautiful arrangements ever heard on stage (matched only by Jonathan Tunick in my opinion). Wicked, Mary Poppins, Miss Saigon, Carousel, My Fair Lady, the man is a living legend.
Cut to a rehearsal studio in London in soggy June. "Jack, does that accented tap beat come on 3 or 4 in that last bar?" Me: "I, I... erm, I think it's 4 Bill." Yep, this IS happening. William Brohn is orchestrating (mentally, I may add) to the sound of my feet for what will be a 15-piece orchestra. "Ah yes, we'll use that whistle that was featured back in the American Civil War!" Me: "Oh right?... yeah, if you think so, Bill."
'Lucky' doesn't do this justice. Fair to say the finished product blows me away EVERY night. The band float and blast out the most beautiful sound. Spine tingling stuff. The sitzprobe (first run through with the cast and band together) saw me in tears three times with my jaw permanently dropped.
Now taking a trip back to day one of rehearsals. Cut to me and the amazing choreographic assistant Jo Goodwin lacing up our tap shoes in front of Andrew Wright. Andrew and Jo began to show me the seedlings of what would become my number in the show, Bigger Isn't Better. Andrew exemplifies the hope for British musical theatre. He's intelligent, insightful, passionate and a real touchstone for me in this whole production. He fights so hard for what he believes is theatrically right. He provided the blue print of the number and led me through it with the patience of a saint. However, he knows what buttons to push to lift a performance higher than you thought was possible. Very good with people, he always finds that spark of an idea that you could connect to - and the reviews are testament that his choreography wasn't shabby either. He respects the classics, yet his vocabulary is innovative and clever. And he loves Great British Bake-Off, what's not to like?
Once again, I've rambled on and ran out of space. But I'm sure you get an idea on how lucky/mad this whole experience has been. Do look out for the final blog, in which I hope to finally say goodbye to my time in the circus.