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First Week Of Rehearsals!

Director Adam Long reports...

First week of rehearsals for Dickens Abridged. We're at St. Luke's church in Holloway. The cast of superbly talented actor/musician/singers (Damian Humbley, Jon Robyns, Kit Orton, Matthew Hendrickson and Gerard Carey) have done a fantastic job of learning lines, blocking, choreography and music. Sally Brooks has been working magic with her choreography (as she did with State Fair at Trafalgar Studios - she's a star). In attendance have been two dogs - Ben, a very soulful black Labrador; and Teddy, Sonia Friedman's talented Bichon Frise. Sonia's in N.Y. opening Richard III and Twelfth Night, so we're helping out by looking after Teddy. Teddy sings along with us as we do vocal warm ups, she dances along with the choreography - is there nothing that dog can't do?!

Costume fittings on Tuesday and Wednesday. A debate rages about whether Agnes Wickfield should wear a beard. I personally find the beard strangely beautiful.

On Monday, Jon showed the cast a video of Tommy Emmanuel playing Classical Gas on his beat-up acoustic guitar.

We are all fairly certain that this should be the style in which Bob Cratchit plays his love song to Tiny Tim...but is it reasonable to expect that level of musical dexterity in a Christmas show?

On the technical side, a debate is raging over how best to make Miss Havisham burst into flame. Humphrey McDermott, our esteemed lighting designer (who was just nominated for a BWW:UK award - Best Lighting Designer - for his work on Tailor Made Man), believes that we might be able to use actual explosive charges, but we fear that may vapourise our actor. Kit says he's willing to give it a go.

Another possibility is a reality television programme in which we search for aspiring actors who are willing to be exploded onstage in front of a live audience. The programme could be like Lloyd Webber's I'd Do Anything. Every week, a collection of hopefuls sing, dance, play instruments and act, and the viewing audience votes for which one they would like to see blown up.

As I write this, a fiddle sits on a table beside me, a flying-V electric guitar stands to my right. Behind me I hear the wedding march being played on the piano as David Copperfield prepares to marry Dora Spenlow. Little by little, it's all coming together...just two more weeks to go...

Dickens Abridged is at the Arts Theatre from Wednesday 27 November. Visit for more details and follow @DickensAbridged on Twitter for more anecdotes from the rehearsal room.

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