Monday, 11 October 2010

The gang's all here

First get-together at the Rectory. Sorry about the white-out on Huw's face - he's so ruddy tall he was the only one who got the sunset full blast!

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

We have our cast!

I'm delighted to report that our cast has been finalised. This fabulous collection of talent includes four girls and three men:
  • Charlotte Couture
  • Abigail Dennington-Price
  • Angela Rowe
  • Gill Tichbourne
  • Trevor Burton
  • Huw Jones
  • Rob Tiffen
with Selwyn Tillett at the piano (making the occasional contribution), Mike 'Tinks' Carson masterminding backstage, and Rudy Lapeer on choreography. Wonderful.

Initial meeting this Sunday, 10th November October*; music rehearsals between the end of November and mid-December, and serious rehearsals and staging starting very early in January.

Thanks loads to everybody who has supported, auditioned, suggested possible performers - and, of course, to the lovely folks who have agreed to take part. We can't wait to begin!

*thank you, Trevor, for spotting my imbecility. The folly of enthusiasm.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Auditions - the next stage...

We're delighted to have cast four fabulous ladies and one wonderful man for the show, and are delighted to welcome:
  • Abi Dennington-Price
  • Angela Rowe
  • Charlotte Couture
  • Gill Tichbourne
  • Trevor Burton
To join this stellar collection, we are still in need of a 'heavy man' - no, I don't mean your weight, but the character: baritone, actor-manager, bit of gravitas... you know the kind of thing. If I say that this is the person who will perform The Night I Appeared as Macbeth, and will also play the part of Sir in an extract from The Dresser, you'll get the idea.

The auditions would need to be at our home in Weston Longville - sorry about that, but the Clavinova that we borrowed for the auditions has been returned, and we have a piano here.

If you're interested, or know somebody who is, please telephone me as soon as you can on 07802 475110 to arrange an audition.

Monday, 6 September 2010

Auditions: what we want from you

All cast need to be flexible singing actors (rather than acting singers), so pieces should be things you already know well that show off your vocal range and comic timing, especially in dialogue.

At least one sung (two if you wish to show off a contrast), one spoken. Bring the music – your pianist is very accomplished, but only operates well with the dots in front of him!

Sung: anything suitable of your choice from lighter 1940s/50s musicals, Noël Coward, Music Hall. Girls especially, maybe bring a second contrasting number - something bluesy, a torch song, a Sondheim ballad?

Spoken: something from farce, drawing-room comedy (Wilde, Coward), more modern comedy. Items performed straight to the audience are also appropriate. Look at good monologue writers: Alan Bennett, Joyce Grenfell, Victoria Wood.

The main requirements are that we see your ability for comedy and communication; so if you are choosing between something that's new to you and something familiar, go for the latter so it shows you off to your best advantage. The items above are simply meant as a guide.

Tap: this is very much optional! If you have tap-dancing ability, we’d love to see it; a short item is all that is needed (or even part of an item – 32 bars max would be fine, we don’t need the whole of 42nd Street). Either bring the music for the pianist (see above), or bring a CD.

Group Movement: We will do a very basic set of movements, which will be taught at the audition, simply to see how well you move on stage and how easily you pick up choreography. Don’t worry, this won’t be 42nd Street either [not least because Cassie will probably have arranged the moves].

Group Spoken: We will give you some spoken work at the audition, with the usual short time to have a look at it in advance; it will be from one of several items in the show that involve group dialogue, and will enable us to see how you interact with each other and what your comic timing is like.

Auditions: when and where

We're auditioning on Monday 13th September at 7:30 pm at the Sewell Barn Theatre in Constitution Hill, Norwich. If you would like to come along, please do - and it would be helpful to know in advance that you're coming.

NB: We do have the option of Wednesday 15th September as well, but the location of this (and indeed, whether it happens on that day at all) will depend on what's needed: the present show in rehearsal at the Barn (Alan Ayckbourn's RolePlay) will be working in the theatre, and we can't do lots of noisy singing / dancing / tap dancing while they are trying to work!

If we only get a couple of people wanting to use the Wednesday, then we won't need to take very long in the Barn so will be there; otherwise we may ask auditionees to come to our home (Weston Longville) as we have a piano here and won't disturb anybody. But it's important that you let us know. Click here for contact details.

The cast we need

All the cast need to be good comic actors first, preferably with some revue and comedy-play experience, or at least being able to work very directly with an audience. All to be good team players, but there’s also plenty of opportunity to score in solo numbers. Shakespeare knowledge not essential! Broadly speaking, you need to be able to at least
  • sing confidently enough to contribute at least the odd solo line in group numbers and join in confidently in choruses
  • move well enough to be able to take part in very simple choreographed routines (we’re talking less 42nd Street and more step-together-step-kick here) – and preferably be able to walk without putting forward the same arm as leg
  • have exceptionally good comic timing and delivery
These are the minimum requirements. Ideally, we need at least one person who can do a decent tap routine; one of each sex who could be called a good singer; and every performer must be able to place a comic line to perfection. A full tap routine in one number would be fantastic; a cast who can do perfect four-part harmony, magic; but don’t let it put you off auditioning if you don’t feel you match up to all these demands.

The original show had a cast of four (two girls, two men) but this is actually pretty tough – it’s a hard working show! It works very well with three of each sex (plus the pianist who does a couple of numbers from the piano and sticks in the odd line of dialogue here and there - Selwyn’s already bagged this one!). It's also possible that we may cast two men and four girls - given the unwritten law of amateur theatre that girls tend to outnumber men at any audition...

The four characters described below are the minimum; bear in mind, therefore, that the numbers performed by the two girls below will probably be split between three girls in reality, and likewise the men.

Girl A A reasonably straight classical high voice but some good jazz numbers, so needs to be able to let her hair down. A bit of convincing coloratura at the sharp end would be good, too, but doesn’t have to be Lesley Garrett; both Janie Dee and Louise Gold played this originally. Plays, for example, the Princess in a superb parody (almost word-for-word) of the French scene in Henry V (with Girl B as her maid Alice) – this is pure music hall / pantomime (“my side are better than your side…”)

Girl B Belter-comedienne, more spoken material than sung. Needs to be able to really point and time the show’s best selection of one-liners. Think Susie Blake or Julie Walters. Performs items like Which Witch, which was originally performed by Hermione Gingold.

Man A If it was a Carry On film this would be Jim Dale. Light voice, good comic timing; slightly camp manner might help? Kind of sneaky, comes near to stealing most of the ensemble numbers he’s in – as well as playing Just William.

Man B Marked contrast to A; heavy and bold, plays most of the Kings and outsize characters (including “Sir” from The Dresser). A real AC-TOR, laddie, and don’t you forget it! Donald Sinden type? Some superb sketches; for example, Othello with Desdemona’s mother, Lady Brabantio, played as Jack Worthing and Lady Bracknell.

We haven’t specified ages here. The original cast were probably somewhere in their late 30s or early 40s; but we could work with the right people, as long as they can move, sing and speak well, pretty well anywhere across the age spectrum. It would be equally good to have a cast who were all of similar age or a real mixture across the decades. We’ll see what we get at auditions!


We have some limitations here as our Musical Director, being a Church of England priest, has a rather complicated diary!

We know for certain that, for the duration of the rehearsal period, we will definitely work on all Thursday evenings (it’s his only day off) and Sunday afternoons. We will then add at least one more rehearsal each week for Cassie to work on spoken-word items, but these dates will be worked around those cast.

We would like to start by having around four rehearsals in the first half of December, primarily for trying-out, distribution of items (which again, depends on the combination of cast) and note-bashing; definitely 2nd & 9th December, and one or two more to be arranged. We will then start in earnest on 2nd January.

Contact details

Cassie & Selwyn Tillett

The Rectory, Weston Longville, Norwich NR9 5JU

Contact Cassie on:

phone 01603 880895
mobile 07802 475110

Welcome to the Shakespeare Revue!

Selwyn & I are very excited to have been asked to direct this wonderful show. It was originally created by members of the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1994, compiled by Christopher Luscombe & Malcolm McKee. It was first produced at the Barbican, and afterwards in the West End and on a long successful tour in the UK and the States.

It’s a totally unserious look at the world of Shakespeare, his plays and their actors, done in a traditional revue format of songs and sketches, with extracts from musicals, plays, comic novels, Music Hall numbers, Cambridge Footlights, and quite a number of new items written specifically for the show. The selection of authors includes Stephen Fry, Victoria Wood, Maureen Lipman, Alan Bennett, Richmal Crompton, with some bits of yer actual Shakespeare thrown in; composers include Cole Porter, Sandy Wilson, Fascinating Aida and Stephen Sondheim. There are 39 items altogether, of which 21 are sung. The costumes and set will be simple, leaving the cast (with help from occasional props, such as a mobile balcony for Juliet – I kid you not) to provide the colour.