Archives for posts with tag: Musical

…still I’m clean’.

I had to just finish off the lyric of that title because it could easily be confused as a regular statement. That wouldn’t be very me now would it? It’s actually a line from Duncan Sheik’s new musical ‘American Psycho’ and it has been repeating in my head since I saw the show on Saturday. It seemed, almost poetically, coincidental that the final musical I saw in 2013 contained a lyric that would lead me into my final post of the year so I just had to use it.

As the curtain came down on the final piece of theatre I saw this year I turned to my friend Adam – who was a regular 2013 theatre buddy of mine – and said: “Best thing I’ve seen this year”. Adam was quick to say that that was a huge statement coming from me considering the amount of things I’ve seen this year. It’s true, it was a huge sweeping statement, but it popped out of my decisive mouth and I don’t just think it was just because of the adrenaline rush Act II had given me. ‘Mojo’ had stolen the 2013 theatrical crown.

“But Ridout, what about ______, _______, and, not forgetting, _______!?”*

*I’d be interested to know what shows you’d fill those blanks with. Go to the bottom of the blog post to use a contact form to tell me!

I’ve since had a few days to reflect on everything else I’ve seen this year and I thought I’d let you know what my favourites were. I’ll admit that my pen hovered a lot as I tried to write down definitive favourites. In the end I had to break it down into more categories (including making a few up) and most have a shared top spot between two pieces. It would seem my decisive brain – declaring ‘Mojo’ the best – from Saturday couldn’t do the same thing whilst recalling the 80+ things I’ve seen this year.

So, here are Ridout’s 2013 favourites:

Shakespeare: ‘Othello’ at the National Theatre and ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ at the Globe

Plays: ‘Mojo’ at the Harold Pinter and ‘Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time’ at the Apollo

Musical Revival: ‘Merrily We Roll Along’ at the Menier Chocolate Factory/Harold Pinter

Solo?: Liza Minnelli at the Royal Festival Hall and Patti LuPone & Seth Rudetsky at the Leicester Square Theatre

Regional: ‘Sweeney Todd’ at the West Yorkshire Playhouse and ‘Putting It Together’ at Glive

Musical: ‘The Color Purple’ at the Menier Chocolate Factory and ‘American Psycho’ at the Almedia

Performances: Cynthia Erivo for ‘The Color Purple’ and Rosalie Craig for ‘The Light Princess’

It took me a lot of strength to not create a mini Ridout award nominations list and put more pieces down. I’ve been ruthless. I’ve been lucky to see a lot of incredible theatre this year. Luckily for you too, you still have the chance to see a few of the pieces in my above list in the new year. Therefore, your theatrical to-do list for 2014 should be: Mojo, American Psycho, The Light Princess, Putting It Together (which is opening at the St James soon), Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time (when the Apollo is back in good health) and Merrily We Roll Along is also available to watch on Digital Theatre.

As a bonus category, I can’t ignore the fact that a significant portion of my theatrical visits this year have been to different drama schools to see their graduating year’s productions. I think it’s so important to see what the upcoming year of talent is like and you also get to see West End worthy performances, sometimes of some rarely seen pieces, for a fraction of the price. What is not to love? I would highly recommend making a few trips to see some student productions in 2014 – they’ve got some exciting seasons coming up. My drama school categories would be:

Best Production: ‘Kiss of the Spider Woman’ at Arts Educational Schools London

Best Performance: (in case you missed her name in the theatrical news) Mollie Melia-Redgrave in ‘Evita’ at Arts Educational Schools London and Scott Paige in ‘The Producers’ at Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts. Two names well worth a look out for in the future.

Considering all of the above I think I can safely say that my statement declaring ‘Mojo’ the best thing I’ve seen this year was a huge sweeping statement and I’ll retract it – all the above are equal in my eyes! It is also safe to say that 2013 was a pretty impressive year for theatre. There were record breaking revivals, box office smashing shows, we celebrated 50 years of the National Theatre (see previous post) and there was plenty of inspiring new writing (again, see previous post). I don’t know about you but I can’t wait to see what 2014 has in store.

Thank you for reading what I’ve had to say in 2013. I hope you return for more in 2014.

Happy New Year!

A few 2013 theatre photos:

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Giving our best ‘Bottom’s at the Globe.

A faulty sign at the Palace altering this MGM classic.

A faulty sign at the Palace altering this MGM classic.

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Adam in the standard day seat queue attire.

My 'patronus' moment. West Side Story with NYMT.

My ‘patronus’ moment. West Side Story with NYMT.

“How do you measure a year in the life?”

– Rebecca Ridout

 

Now, I have to just quickly get across that the lyrical title of this blog entry is not a reflection of my musical tastes. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good Disney film (in fact I have the entire ‘Disney Classics’ collection on VHS in a special box at home) but despite these two facts I am not a Disney fangirl! It just so happened that Alan Menken chose very appropriate lyrics to suit the content of this particular blog post. There, now thats out in the open, let’s begin.

I am moving house this week and in the process of packing I realised I am a hoarder. I am a hoarder of a specific theatrical variety. I had a discussion with my housemate as to whether I should keep my soundtrack CD’s on the argument that in the future I want the same trip down nostalgia lane as I did when I found all my parent’s soundtrack cassettes. He tried to tell me that in the future when a 3D version of ‘Phantom of the Opera’ jumps out my laptop screen and fills my room I will not care for my CD collection at all. This argument, as exciting as it may sound, did not change a thing. I’m keeping them. I was, however, inspired to do a premature (to my promised fortnightly) blog as a bit of a “getting to know you” session. I’ll show you some of my hoards and throw some tips into the mix. Hopefully it is of interest to some of you and let me know if you do any of the same! We can make some kind of musical theatre hoarders support group.

First things first. My biggest collection: TICKETS

I have been keeping all my theatre tickets since September 2012 in my bedside table and I counted them this morning – there are 61 (and that’s not all the shows I’ve seen this year.)

Ever wondered what 61 theatre tickets looks like? Well now you don’t have to.

I’ll admit that’s a lot. However, I rarely spend more than £20 on theatre tickets (the only exceptions this year being Liza Minnelli, Patti LuPone, Merrily We Roll Along and The Color Purple – all of which I think are justifiable) so here are my tips for savvy ticket purchasing:

  • If you are 16-25 you unquestionably need to be registered with the National Theatre’s ‘Entry Pass‘ scheme. You’ll have to be very quick and ‘on it’ when the tickets become available but you’ll get to see some incredible productions at a bargain price.
  • Get used to being a morning person, take a book (see recommendations at the end of this blog!), and go and queue for day seats. Many theatres have this option you just need to check the websites beforehand. Again, if you’re 16-25 and you haven’t queued for £5 tickets for ‘Matilda’ yet then WHY NOT!? Suck it up, get up early and go. You won’t regret it.
  • Sign up to production companies newsletters via email – including productions that are coming up (I did this with Book of Mormon and just today I booked my Miss Saigon tickets) you can get cheaper preview tickets for shows that, as Mormon has proved, can get very expensive.
  • Shakespeare’s Globe. Sign up to the emails and then when the summer season goes on sale you can get £5 yard tickets for an entire season of shows for less money than a West End ticket price. You’ll have to be quick though – they’re very popular.
  • The Royal Opera House has a student standby scheme whereby you can get £10 tickets (sometimes in the stalls if you’re lucky) to a couple of productions each season. OR if you’re not a student just register and you will get emails with ticket prices as low as £3 to certain shows. It’s not an incredible view but it’s still the Royal Ballet/Opera company in the Opera House for cheaper than a Grande Starbucks. I know what I’d rather spend my money on.
  • Finally my best piece of advice: Be okay with going to the theatre alone! When you ‘need’ someone to go to the theatre with you you have to wait for friends to get back to you blah blah before booking a ticket and you often miss the cheap available seats in doing so. I had my first solo theatre visit in 2011 when I went to see Sondheim’s ‘Passion’ at the Donmar and I haven’t looked back since (and I haven’t missed a cheap ticket I’ve wanted to get hold of either)

That’s tips done. Then what to do with the tickets? I used to stick them on my wall, then on my wardrobe etc etc but as I move house every year because of house shares (which if you’re going to drama school you will do!) I soon realised it was easier to stick them all on a noticeboard and cart that round.

My fireplace.

I am definitely going to have to make a new one of these with the past years tickets. Two noticeboards of tickets? Too much?

Other items you can see in this photo are an applause board from LSMT’s production of ‘Applause’, an LP of ‘West Side Story’ given to me as a present when I got into NYMT’s production and on the wall is a poem about the life and career of Stephen Sondheim. Yep, that’s right, a poem. It concludes: “I hope you have a better understanding on of this talented old guy. If not, ask Rebecca Ridout, she knows everything about him. Thank you and Goodbye” I love it! How on earth could I part with it?

Obviously with all these visit’s to the theatre I can’t just have ticket stubs to show for it. I’ve never been a merchandise girl – I don’t own any show t-shirts or the famous Wicked Umbrella. In a previous ‘stop hoarding Rebecca, you’ve got no wall space’ efforts I got rid of my massive poster collection. It now only includes what I refer to as my ‘Donmar Wall’ (see below), a Royal Opera House ‘One Extraordinary World’ design (it’s beautiful), an Applause and West Side Story advertisement and in true nerdy fashion a Shakespeare timeline. Unfortunately I have no advice to offer regarding posters. I constantly struggle with mine falling down – as lovely as Eddie Redmayne falling on my bed in the middle of the night may be.

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An Eddie Redmayne sandwich. Yes please.

Then come the programmes…

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The depth of this pile was insane.

This picture does not reflect just how many programmes are in that pile. There are so many! So many that I cannot be bothered to count them. This is my one hoard I completely justify and I urge you to do the same. I have referred to these programmes on numerous occasions looking up performers (sometimes guest teachers you swear you’ve seen in something etc) finding out who the casting director was, the producers… I think it’s important to always read ALL of the creatives and try and remember them – especially if it’s a long running show that you think you will be suitable for in the future! Never mind the pretty ‘picture brochures’ some of the shows offer, always get the programmes with all the juicy details in. Bossy Ridout.

Finally, not so much a hoard but rather a very necessary collection of books is the last item on my list to talk about (you’re thinking ‘phew’.) I thought I’d share with you some of my recommendations if you’re going to drama school, you’re a graduate or just looking for some interesting reading:

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NB: The order of this pile does not correlate with the list below. Apologies.

  1. Respect for Acting by Uta Hagen – It’s just a bible of acting method. Highly recommended.
  2. So You Want To Go To…DRAMA SCHOOL? by Helen Freeman – what it says on the tin.
  3. So You Want To Be In…MUSICALS? by Ruthie Henshall – this one is just full of things you can refer back to over you career. Also, who doesn’t love a bit of Ruthie? (not featured in the picture because my copy is currently lent to a friend)
  4. True and False by David Mamet – controversially is a book questioning the purpose of training and acting methods. It is consequently an absolutely fascinating read and also helps you, when training, to embrace that not every approach will suit you.
  5. Auditions by Richard Evans – all the ins and outs of what to expect.

I think that’s about it – or at least these are the theatrical items in my room that I feel have some kind of explanation/something I can offer you about them. I also have costumes, shoes, props, a broken stage combat rehearsal spoon, the aforementioned CDs, countless DVDs (oh and an American DVD player just so I can watch all my Sondheim DVDs on what I call ‘Sondheim Sundays’) and of course alphabetized HOARDS of sheet music.

I hope that this bonus blog has been informative, that you feel like you know me a bit better and that you want to return next week to read what I have to say about some beautiful books I’ve been reading.

“Getting to know you, getting to know all about you. Getting to like you, getting to hope you like me.”

– Rebecca Ridout

In true theatrical style, let’s start at the very beginning.

Firstly, let me explain the title of my blog. Whilst in my final year of training at the London School of Musical Theatre (from here on in I will use the acronym LSMT) I got a reputation for always having the answer to any kind of theatrical trivia question. A phrase soon came about stating “When in doubt, ask Ridout” and it caught on pretty quickly. Inspired by this I then used it as a way of getting people to pronounce my name correctly (when in doubt, its pronounced ‘Ridout’) – two birds with one stone: a nice little nerdy reputation and a correctly pronounced surname! Then over the course of the year the questions that were asked of me developed from musical theatre trivia to…well…absolutely anything. You name it, I was asked it.

Therefore, I think “When in doubt…Ridout” captures exactly what I want this blog to be (questions about my life answered) However, I’m still unsure as to what content will fill it on a fortnightly basis! Sometimes it will be an insight into the highs & lows of being a new graduate, sometimes it will be me needing to tell you all to read/watch/listen to something and sometimes it will just be a way for me to let off some musical theatre themed steam. I hope all of the above will be worth a read though! It may occasionally be an inspiration and it may occasionally have the ‘Jeremy Kyle’ effect of making you feel better about your own situation (even if its a case of schadenfreude at my expense) but that’s all it needs to be.

So here goes everything. My first experience of highs and (a very big) low since graduating.

On my first Monday morning as a graduate I had what you could call an exceptionally good day. I signed my contract with my agency, I went to the Tate Modern with some of my best friends pretending to be oh so cultured and finished the day drinking wine and rubbing shoulders with half the cast of Downton Abbey at Spamalot’s after show drinks for Hugh Bonneville’s debut. I felt pretty damn jammy. Life continued like this for two blissful weeks whilst knowing I was soon to start rehearsals for National Youth Music Theatre’s (from now on ‘NYMT’) production of ‘West Side Story’. High after high after high watching friends smash their professional debuts and thinking “that will be me soon enough” Then on the 3rd of August I lugged my suitcase (with pilates foam roller in hand) across London to head to Kent for rehearsals.

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Now I could write an entire essay on what an incredible experience ‘West Side Story’ was and what it meant to me as a performer. I won’t here though. If you’re interested though you can scroll back through my twitter (@beccaridout) and see what was happening and how blissfully happy it made me. My friend Amy replied to my tweets saying “Oh, are you enjoying your West Side Story experience then Rebecca? You should’ve said” and if you already follow me on twitter you’ll know exactly what she means. I was an incessantly happy tweeter. So I won’t bore you with it on here too!

The Saturday night performance of ‘West Side Story’ has now become what I’d like to call my “patronus moment” (just in case you aren’t a Harry Potter fan I mean one of the strongest, happiest memories you can recall). I was stood on the top of a shipping container on our incredible set and as soon as Amara said “Te adoro, Anton” I felt the vibrations of our 33 piece orchestra play out the closing chords of, arguably, the greatest musical ever written.

I think this photo shows how unbelievably elated I was – look at my little beaming face.

That was the ultimate high. In true dramatic fashion I do fear if it may genuinely be the ultimate high of my career. Not because I feel that my career won’t move onto bigger things than an NYMT production but rather because West Side Story is my favourite (and as previously stated, arguably the best) musical. It was a unique site specific production where we (or rather the creatives Nikolai Foster, Drew McOnie and Tom Deering) re-invented a classic. I can’t put it quite as eloquently as Mark Shenton did in his blog for The Stage so I’ll share what he thought:

“The joy of Drew McOnie’s work is that it is classically inspired, just as Robbins’ was, but also pulses and shimmers to its own distinctive vision, beautifully displayed by this eager young cast. There’s rawness and eagerness, vigour and danger in every step they take, and re-make; the usual critical language of dubbing it bold and breathtaking just won’t do. Instead, it does something even more vivid: it makes you look at the whole show in a new way.”

It really is going to be difficult to top that patronus moment I tell you!

Then after the high, as much as I tried to fight it, came the low. Hungover, I was driven back to London the following day (not helped by the bumpy road surfaces for miles stretching out of Manchester. I shudder at the memory) and BAM. Reality. I had a life admin to-do list as long as my arm and an insane amount of washing. I was no longer singing about a glorious place for us all or needing to have a dance off with someone over a small tiff. I had post-show blues. Then to add to this, on my kitchen table there was a letter from my school – it contained my diploma. Instead of being thrilled with my result I realised I had not mourned my loss of training because of the hiatus (remember? those two blissful weeks?) between graduation and ‘West Side Story’. These post-show blues then spiralled out of control because of combining with post-school blues. Ouch.

It’s been an emotional couple of days with tears springing out of my eyes at the most inappropriate moments (namely when I hear the words ‘somehow’,’someday’ or ‘somewhere’) However, as I learned from Uberfacts on twitter this morning: “Crying is good for your health – Flushing unhealthy bacteria out of your body, strengthening the immune system and relieving stress.” I’ve medicated my broken heart with 3 trips to the theatre in as many days, spending time in the sunshine and probably most significantly starting this blog. Rather than sitting down and thinking “I have nothing tangible in the future to look forward to” I’ve been thinking I have a great expanse of unknown in front of me in regards to my career and, to quote my favourite composer*, I am ‘excited and scared’ to start exploring it.

*I won’t say who it is, I’m hoping you’ll guess.

If you’ve got this far, thank you so much for reading this. I hope you return. Who knows what the next fortnight will hold but that’s the beauty of the industry. I guess any lessons from this experience to any newly graduated performer is to make sure you deal with any ‘no more training’ emotion before you may have to face post-show blues! Make sure you have tissues and friendly faces waiting for you when you return to normal life and if you’ve been away on residential have plenty of washing powder stocked up!

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Then when you’ve finished posing in front of a poster for a production you’ve just been in, giving it your best ‘sad face’, dust yourself off and step leap towards the next opportunity.

“Hold my hand and we’re halfway there, hold my hand and I’ll take you there. Somehow, someday, somewhere…”

– Rebecca Ridout