I can hardly believe it, but show-time is almost here again. I will be singing in the chorus with Hull Musical Society at the end of this month in a production of "Carousel" by Rodgers & Hammerstein. It's a musical that I would have hated when I was growing up. Come to think of it, I pretty much disliked most musicals as a teenager (apart from Grease, Sound of Music and Oliver, that is). I don't think I "got" them until I actually started to sing the songs myself - there's something really ridiculous (in my mind) about people doing their normal business, walking down the street or having a picnic, say, then suddenly bursting into song. Cheesy. Corny. I like music of all descriptions, and love singing, so you would think I'd have always been into musicals. I think the American films of musicals are the only experience I'd had - they put me off and I thought they were not at all cool when I was younger. I preferred acting to singing, too. I think the first musical I went to see live was "Les Miserables". I found it very emotional and just loved everything about it - the music, the story, the characters and the set. I remember my husband and I being two of the last people in the theatre at the end of the show, we were both still trying to recover from the tears we'd shed!
The only singing I had ever done prior to joining Hull Musical Society last year was in the school choir aged about 12. My involvement in amateur drama was purely drama and I never even thought about doing a musical show. However, I have come to enjoy singing as much as acting and am so glad I joined, even if it does mean I get less free time in the evenings and on a weekend leading up to the production.We have had our share of bad luck with this show - that's often part of the tale you tell once it's all over, but also had some great laughs along the way. A lot of the dialogue in Carousel is difficult to understand, as some of the words are not ones I'd heard of before. The funniest one is when we are in the "Clambake" scene (which is by far the cheesiest scene of all in this show, if you ask me) and one of the men are talking about Nettie having a "catnip" fit. Well, that in itself made us laugh, but what made it even funnier was when one of men said "Catnap" instead. Well, of course we then continued the theme with as many ridiculous cat related words as we could - as if a catnip fit wasn't ridiculous enough! We had a cat-flap, cat-crap, cat-clap cat-litter, etc. The problem with laughing at rehearsals, for me, is that once I start I find it incredibly difficult to stop. I start shaking and tears run down my face - it's that old situation of knowing that you really shouldn't be laughing, but you just can't help it. I think we have had so many things go wrong, we are all just waiting for the next disaster.
To give you an idea of what has happened - the man who would have been the main director was involved in an unfortunate accident in July when he tripped up outside his house and dislocated his kneecaps. He's had surgery and has been in leg braces since then, but is still not fully recovered. We therefore had to bring in a new director. One of our key committee members then announced he had to go to China for three weeks in October, so would not be available for the show. We had two more of our male members also opt out for various reasons, so were getting really low on men. We had the services of a professional choreographer to help us with the dance routines - but he had to leave after about 3 weeks in order to work elsewhere. One of our members, Corinne, was planning on taking charge in this area, but she damaged her knee and had to opt out of the rehearsals for a short time (it was her Dad who'd dislocated his patella, too!). We struggled to find anyone to play the part of Jigger for several weeks (although now we've found him, he's proving to be very capable) and then our Starkeeper was taken ill with an ear problem (which will take months to recover from) so Ian, our Chairman, has taken on that role. A week or so ago, another member dropped out for health reasons, so the character of Mrs Mullin has only just been replaced by someone from another society. Finally, the man playing Mr Bascombe has broken his knee by falling off his bicycle. We have managed to replace him with one of the members who'd originally planned on not being involved!
Frustrating, tiring and full of incidents - I don't think I've forgotten anything, but I do know that the old saying "The Show Must Go On" usually applies because we can't afford for it not to! Cancellation fees are enormous and besides which, it will be "All Right On The Night".
Fortunately, we have some stunning singers in the lead roles. I love listening to Andy Collinson, for instance - he is playing Billy opposite his real-life partner Roz Shallcross. This show is the first time I've heard Roz singing to her potential and she has got such a crystal clear voice, it's breath-taking - she's a first-rate actress, too and really brings out the emotion in the character of Julie. Jane Bradley is playing Carrie with great humour and I have thoroughly enjoyed watching her performing opposite Roz in the scenes they have together.
I have missed a rehearsal this week because I've been suffering with a bad head cold/sore throat/flu type illness. It started last Friday evening and I probably shouldn't have gone to the rehearsal on Sunday afternoon but I felt ok-ish at that point. I got worse instead of better, however, so really couldn't make it to the evening rehearsal on Tuesday, which was annoying but couldn't be helped. I think I am starting to feel better today at last, my voice is still a bit croaky but with drinks of honey, hot water and cider vinegar I will be singing about catnip again before too long!
Favourite song from this show has to be "You'll Never Walk Alone". I also like "If I Loved You" sung by Julie, it has such a strong emotional feel to it. I do find that actually being part of a musical show often changes my mind about music and songs I previously either disliked or had not interest in whatsoever. Familiarity with the music probably helps, and some songs are just really good to sing out loud!
Anyway, here's a copy of the poster for our production, which is to be performed on Friday 29th October at 7.30pm and Saturday 30th October at 2pm and 7pm. Tickets are available from Bob Harrison on 01482 327007 and are priced at £10 for adults, £8 for seniors and £5 for children. You can also buy tickets on the door if you prefer.