Practise makes perfect they say – unfortunately they don’t have two menaces that come through to the office as soon as they hear the piano playing! I was trying to get my head around the melodies and harmonies for tonight’s rehearsal because I have to admit I’m struggling a bit. I’m used to working out the harmonies and then having the note in my head because I played around and arranged it myself but with a show you have to follow the MD and the score.
Our MD, Craig, is being patient with me thankfully but I am feeling the pressure because the other cast members are really quick at picking these things up and producing the goods. There are some tremendous voices in the cast, and while you don’t want to pick out individuals both Jennifer who plays Christmas Eve and Rachael who is our Gary Coleman (yes, the Gary Coleman – come see the show and find out) have amazing voices and both knock it out of the park each time. You really want to sit back and enjoy it – and a couple of times I have forgotten I’m supposed to be singing because I’m enjoy the others too much. You realise quickly when you’re staring into space and everyone else is looking at you for the line. Bit awkward.
Everyone’s really good in the cast – and that’s not a sycophantic thing, I’m genuinely impressed with the talents in the cast. The timing and voices and singing and those who can remember their lines already are all impressive. There are some people in the cast who just have funny bones and an understanding of where the laughs are – Gavin and Naomi as the Bad News bears have some great lines. I saw Gavin in the “Spelling Bee” recently and he is a good comedy actor so I really want to what he does with this part. The Bert to my Ernie in the show, Matthew, has the character voice, the lines and the songs all down pat already and I’m standing there next to him with both the script and the score trying for the life of me to work out where we are before I miss the cues. Because the show is a real ensemble piece it’s a real team attitude and the fact that so many of these guys have either worked together before or have experience it really is a positive for me as I can watch and try to learn from them.
Last time I did anything was in 2000 when I was in the Student Show which I only had a couple of dozen lines in and I was playing Jeremy Paxman (don’t ask) so it was a piss take. This time the pressure is different and while it’s still a great comedy you have to take it more seriously to ensure you’re pulling your weight and ultimately doing the job for the paying audiences. We are motoring through both the songs and the scenes at the moment so finding time at home to sit with the score, the soundtrack and the piano to try to nail the notes is important. My wee helpers today didn’t make things easy, but rehearsing on your own is difficult anyway as you need the others to listen to as well – it is a vocal juggling act trying to place the harmony sometimes because the accidental notes and chord harmonies are not the sort of thing I’m used to.
When we did harmonies in the band it was all about listening to each other and then you as an individual pitching the notes where you felt they should go. This is a much more disciplined approach and there’s little wriggle room – especially when there are only one or two voices singing with yours; there’s no hiding place. If you drop out to avoid the problem it’s as obvious as getting it wrong so you have to be a bit braver and just go for it. As I say the others in the cast are really good so I’m working to try to keep up with them all.
If you want tickets for the show you can contact me on Facebook, any of the cast if you know them or go straight to the box office here: http://www.aberdeenperformingarts.com/events/avenue-q