Ian Baldwin (‘Alchemy’ director): Well, today we are packing up the van (as well as quite a few cars), and we are heading to the big smoke to bring ‘Alchemy’ to the capital. The crew and I will be beavering away to set up sound, lights, set and get the performance space at the Jermyn Street Theatre ready to tell the story of Professor Samuel King and his battle against the evil schemes of Lord Henry Jagman in this tale of good versus evil, love versus hate, and life versus death.
It has been an interesting journey so far. A far flung cast, all of whom have other full and varied professional commitments which have made rehearsals an interesting exercise in organisation and planning. I must thank Ross Andrews for faithfully making sure that the working tech script is kept up to date, Sian for making sure that most of the London contingent are at rehearsals on time and of course rehearsals just would not have been possible, or indeed as enjoyable without the amazing and unbounded hospitality of Maggie and Chris Lewis who have made sure that we have been fed, watered (among other fluids), and even housed. There just is not enough space on this web page to thank them properly.
At the time of writing we have just four rehearsals left and are moving into the slightly more confined spaces of the ‘Fairview’ public house in order to put the finishing touches to the show. It will be the first time that we will have been able to add props, costume and scenery into the same mix and will no doubt throw up more challenges as we ready ourselves for the final leg of the rehearsal process. It will also be the first time that we can marvel at the hard work and creativity of Natalie Barnett and Caron Morgan who have been sewing, cutting, nailing, painting, sawing... and a hundred other such action verbs besides in order to produce a set and costumes that are very definitely a step up from the shows last incarnation at the Cheltenham Playhouse. Although the set is simple in design, it also houses one or two complicated features as well as a hundred or so hand painted cogs, and the custom made police and mercenary costumes are something to be saluted! Darn, I don’t have anything like a ‘salute’ emoticon on here... anyway, I salute them!!
We have also seen Mark and Alec at the more recent rehearsal weekends who have been busy designing lighting and sound solutions in order to best support the telling of the ‘Alchemy’ story. It might seem that performing in a much smaller venue would make things pretty easy, but, in fact, the opposite is true and the task of getting the balance of lighting and sound just right for a more intimate studio setting is quite formidable. It has also meant that Clive has had to be busy editing both the soundtrack and its accompanying video in order to support characters entrances and exits as well as provide devices to help enhance plot points in the story.
This brings to me to the performers. I mentioned an interesting journey near the beginning of this missive and I have been glad that the cast and chorus have joined me on it, or, to be honest, I would have got lost, had my map upside down or put the wrong postcode in the Sat-Nav. Whether it has been exhausting rehearsal weekends, extra chorus rehearsals in Caron’s back garden or Matthew joining a rehearsal from London via Skype it has been indeed a pleasure to be involved in the process. I have been struck by the way that each cast member, no matter what their role or starting point has been keen to improve their performance ahead of the London shows in order to be the best that they can be. Don’t get me wrong, the rehearsal process is certainly no bed of roses, and with more time, availability of performers and a less spread out rehearsal schedule, progress would have been smoother and more connected. With that said however, it has been great to see how hard the cast and chorus have worked in order to fill gaps, cover missing performers and make sure that run-throughs have gone as smoothly as is possible. On another plus point, I never dreamed in a million years that I might get to play the role of Amelia, even for just a couple of Monday evenings, (although I think the beard added to the vulnerability of the character!).
So... four more rehearsals and then it is upon us. London. Journey’s end. Or could it be another beginning...? See you in the Big Smoke!