Clive Nolan: After an epic journey involving minibuses, two flights and some more minibuses, we arrived at the Hotel Katowice to be greeted with a glass of champagne and a slice of 'Alchemy Cake' (thanks Magda!). That was a great way to mark the beginning of our Polish Alchemy adventure! In truth I had conflicting feelings running around my system... A sense of excitement that we were finally going to perform 'Alchemy' (the culmination of three years virtually locked in my 'keyboard room'), but also the bristle of anxiety as to how this ambitious venture may go.
As I stood in the hotel foyer trying to sort out various room allocations, I realised just how many people were involved in this project. The 'Alchemy 'entourage' was about 22 people alone, and that didn't include the team provided by Metal Mind at the theatre. Quite a challenge! My internal question was would I sleep well?...
We visited the theatre that night, to sort out a few issues, and get a feel for the venue. I have made many DVDs at the 'Wyspianski Theatre' over the years, but that never lessened the degree of tension I always feel when I walk onto that stage. This was no exception.
It had already been agreed that the musicians would arrive at the theatre at 7am the next morning, to unload and to set up. The singers would arrive at 9 for the sound check. Then after some interviews, technical issues, hanging around and generally building up the pressure, we were climbing into our costumes and preparing for 'curtain up' on the show. Then suddenly, it was done... And I was in the foyer signing albums and trying to work out how the show went. 'Well' seemed to be the answer... and why not. This is the finest team of people I have worked with: everybody worked hard, and worked well together... everyone got on... everyone took their jobs and responsibilities seriously... that made the whole experience so much easier for me. I can only compliment and congratulate every single one of the 'Alchemists' who made this show... Singers, Musicians and Crew... all brilliant... thanks!!
Oh... and did i sleep that night?... No! :-)
Soheila Clifford: The live performance of 'Alchemy' in Katowice has to be one of the most memorable performances I'll ever have. I loved every second of the experience. I met so many genuinely lovely people who love 'Alchemy' as much as we love being a part of it. I have made a family amongst the cast and musicians that will last forever. The stage was beyond anything I've ever performed on before and the theatre was absolutely beautiful. The sound was fantastic and everyone was brilliant on the night! I want to thank every one of the lovely fans who have supported us throughout, and I can't thank you enough for all your appreciation. I also want to thank Clive for writing such a wonderful musical that I'm proud to be a part of. :-)
Scott Higham: We had another fantastic cast and crew for this musical that worked so hard and professionally to put this show on. The audience reaction was stunning and the DVD will be something to treasure. A billion thanks to everyone involved and everyone of you that buys the CD & DVD and support Clive's musicals.
Victoria Bolley: What can I say about my first ever trip to Poland? A lot! From the second I got off the plane, I felt very at ease and quite at home. I loved the snow and the friendliness of the people I met. The excitement of the build up to the concert version of 'Alchemy' was incredible. Everyone involved seemed to be filled with a sense of great pride, and an eagerness to perform to the amazing crowd that came to support us from far and wide. The theatre was beautiful, and the staff and crew worked so very hard to ensure everything was perfect for the performers and the audience. When it came time to go on stage for the first time in my costume with the awesome lighting around me, I felt so proud and a little nervous if I'm honest, but I absolutely loved every second and would do it all again tomorrow if I could! Everyone got along so well and it was an experience that I'll never forget and remember very fondly. I would like to thank Magda, not just for being such a great host but for looking after us and being amazing, and I'd also like to thank Clive, for everything! xxx
David Clifford: For me the process has been a long one, in fact I demoed a version of 'Amelia' even before we discussed putting 'She' on stage. This is 'part one' of course for me and 'part two' is the hard part; Clive looked after everything until now whereas now he has thrown me the baton for the Cheltenham shows. The live DVD experience was just wonderful; the cast all got on famously and had a superb time, the crew and all associated with Caamora Company are such a family now that is makes for really good times. The theatre and staff at Metal Mind were just superb, making the whole day flow seamlessly. I do hope that the audience enjoyed the show as much as I know we did, and I look forward to seeing many of them in September. I first met Clive in 1993 and we toured together on and off for a couple of years, but I think this has to be his defining work.
Agnieszka Świta: There was such a great build up to the show, so many hours spent rehearsing and visualising the stage, the layout, how we are going to interact, where the musicians would go. And then, as with all the one off shows, you only have one chance to make it all look and sound its best - literally one take and this is what ends up being a permanent representation of what you have been working on for the last three years, a DVD of the show. I must say I felt a lot of pressure, much more than with 'She'. I guess with 'She' I was blissfully unaware of all the little technical dangers... This time I knew all the ins and outs. But everything was absolutely fine; the sound on stage was great and Andrzej - the sound engineer did a brilliant job and Metal Mind team were super professional. Meeting fans after the show was great, so many positive vibes and kind words. People were addressing me 'Pani Agnieszko' (Ms Agnieszka) and for a a moment I felt like they are not talking to me... really funny! Living in London I got unused to it. Some fans turned up with everything I ever recorded: 3 EPs and 3 double CD as well as 'She' DVD. I was signing a CD when one gentleman said 'I was sitting next to you when you started singing 'Overture' 6 years ago while performing 'She' in this theatre' So it was amazing to see all those people travelling from all over the country and actually the world to see us. It makes me see, once again, how lucky was that twist of fate that made mine and Clive's path cross.
Chris Lewis: This was my first trip to Poland. We flew Polish Airways LOT and they were great. The hotel was really comfortable and warm with an amazing 7th floor view of a busy snow covered street... and the trams!!! I love trams. The theatre was only 5 minutes walk from the hotel so that little chilly trek through the snow was just right to wake you up ready for the soundcheck. When I first saw the theatre with the massive sound, lighting and camera rigs I was blown away. We had a long wait in the evening as we were third act on (third and forth if you count the interval). All of our efforts were well received and the audience went nuts at the end of our show. We were told to keep our costumes on and go to the foyer to meet those of the audience who wanted to see us up close. I expected a dozen people at the most. When the doors to the foyer were opened it was packed – people shouting and cheering, cameras flashing and people clambering for us to sign their 'Alchemy' memorabilia. It was fantastic and a great feeling. I will remember this visit for the friendliness and warmth of the people, the snow, the amazing stage production and the wonderful reception from the audience at the end of the show and meeting people like your Artur Chachlowski and Agnieszka Świątnicka-Kulpińska of Metal Mind and the wonderful wonderful audience that were so receptive to Clive's genious. I loved Poland and I hope that we will be back.
Photos by Justyna Szadkowska, Kamil Kowalski, Kara Rokita, Kim Carter