Archives for posts with tag: Sondheim

“…let the good times roll!” Thanks for that Steve, I will indeed let the good times roll.

It’s been 2014 for a while now and I’m only just getting ‘back in business’ as it were, having told my unproductive backside that I am my own ‘business’ and the industry (or, rather, my conscience) demands an improved work ethic. With actors everywhere returning from panto or other seasonal theatrics in the past few weeks I’ve had my social feed full of people’s toasts to productivity and their ‘bring on 2014’ attitudes. I’ll be the first to admit that I love a good public declaration of productivity but I will also dutifully confess that it’s often to guilt trip myself into actually achieving something rather that procrastinating in the stagiest corners of Youtube (I am currently ‘OBSESSED’ with this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Or7mrEGAGXE and I spend a large amount of my time practicing it).

After the buzz of New Year died down, I felt I had to actually start some resolutions (“Well, I’ll properly start on Monday…”) so I did a few clichéd ‘New Year, New You’ things. I got myself a new little-black-book diary, bought the latest Rhonda Byrne book (which I then dropped in the bath –  I’m nailing life at the moment), stocked up on soup, cut my hair off, started learning the guitar and, best of all, I quit my job. Whilst it felt amazing to leave a job, dramatically reduce the amount of time spent on my hair care and be able to accompany myself in some rather soprano-ey pop song renditions, I realised that it’s really ‘New Year, Same You’  and there is nothing wrong with that.

“Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.” Dr Seuss. There is always a Sondheim or Seuss quote to fit every situation. Fact.

Resolutions will, 9 times out of 10, leave you disappointed in the strength of your will-power, whether the ‘failure’ comes on day one, February 1st or even months down the line. I’m the kind of person that punishes themselves for days (or, in some cases, the rest of my days) for one slip up, so this year – even if it is a delayed reaction – I have resolved to do what makes me feel happy and not put unnecessary pressure on myself. To deny yourself a day on the sofa catching up on Sherlock, reading a book that (god forbid) isn’t about acting theory or even just catching up on some necessary beauty sleep is just no way to live! As addressed in a previous blog, you can’t always be leaping through the air on absolute form if you don’t have your down days to recoup.

However, last year I was given a piece of advice that has really helped me in feeling like I have made a step in my career (or at least not falling off the horse and staying there) on a daily basis. That advice was: Do three things a day that relate to the industry. Sounds simple doesn’t it? I’m pleased to tell you it genuinely is. Even if it’s the tiniest of tasks, you can tick off (mentally if you’re not a list person) your three things and feel better. It can be anything – googling the director of that TV show you loved last night, singing through some repertoire, updating a website, planning audition outfit combinations, looking up who wrote that song you loved and see what else they’ve written or even, my personal favourite, going to the theatre. The list is endless. The beauty of it is that you can be the judge of your productivity and soon it becomes second nature. I reach a stage in the day and think “better do my three things” and realise I already have surpassed that number and then I feel amazingly productive. You can always fit 3 little things around a gruelling work rota and you won’t feel yourself slipping away. This will soon be the case with me when I start my new job (yes, I have a new job, I’m not that exciting and impulsive after all) so I’m taking the next 9 days to cram in as many theatre visits as possible as my 3 things will have to reduce in size when I’m working a 40 hour week. And that’s okay!

As far as I’m concerned I’m back in business, merrily rolling along and I seem to have a pretty good thing going. (Can you tell I saw the transfer of Putting It Together yesterday? Nothing like a bit of Sondheim to put everything right in the world.) So I just wanted to put this out there to say Happy New Year to you all and if you’re falling into a mid-January slump, like me, that there’s no need to be hard on yourself. Roll with the punches and keep taking three little steps to get back on top. Happy seizing 2014.

My view on New Years Eve. Let the good times roll.

My view on New Years Eve. Let the good times roll.

“Now is the time to seize the day. Stare down the odds and seize the day. Minute by minute that’s how you win it, we will find a way. But let us seize the day”*

*With thanks to Sinead Wall for inspiring this lyric.

– Rebecca Ridout

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This week’s blog has a soundtrack to go with it. Listen to THIS whilst reading.

When your alarm goes off at 6 in the morning all you want to do is ignore the world and return to your dream of Olivier (or Tony if you’re one of my few American readers – I know, cool right) nominated performances. This is heightened to its extreme on a Sunday morning and on Sunday 29th that was my alarm – it seems there is no rest or mourning for the wicked. I had to get up at 6am because I had a singing audition at 9am. Needs must though so I rolled out of bed and started sirening. Outside of the house the ‘It’s Sunday morning!’ confusion continued as I walked through Peckham in a red dress and hair primed at the slightly less ungodly (ungodly even, if not especially, on a Sunday) hour of 7am. It took some self restraint to not sing ‘Mysterious Ways’ from the Color Purple to everyone who gave me a funny look but with the joyful lyrics swimming round my head my lethargic body got a Sunday spring in its step. 

Obviously, I overestimated the time it would take to get to the audition venue via public transport (but you never can trust tfl) so I went to kill some time in the safe haven of Starbucks. As I sat down with my coffee I noticed the song that was playing had the repetitive lyrics “Ain’t nobody that can sing like me”. This seemed all too coincidental in perfect timing to hear just before a singing audition so I’ve since found the song and I think it may become my new pre-audition ‘go get em’ anthem. It certainly made me laugh, overdressed, in a Starbucks at 8am, on a Sunday.

LISTEN HERE (after Sunday, obviously. Don’t cut off Sondheim) 

Audition done, Sunday was also my last day of staying at friends’ houses and I couldn’t really go back to the house before 6pm. By now it was 10am, which is debatable as a decent time on a Sunday, so I called my friend Adam to plan a catch up. As we know there is no rest (or mourning) for the wicked so I agreed with Adam (the stagey soul that he is) that we could go to the National Theatre so he could be productive with his school work. Brushing my student envy aside, I agreed that I could waste a day in the National, reading a book or browsing the book shop, completely contented. As we walked into the Nash (can I call it that now I’ve established its full title?) alarm bells went off as we spotted that there were tickets available for the matinee of Edward II. Lo and behold, they had £5 entry pass* tickets available. How could we refuse? We still had a few hours to be productive in and going to the theatre is educational (right?!) so if Adam didn’t have an excuse, I didn’t have an excuse. Sold. It soon transpired that my friend Rupert was on his way to the National because he had received an email from entry pass** for the £5 tickets so he too thought “why not?”. To put the cherry on top of the cake, his seat was next to mine – the universe was on my side this Sunday. 

*I hope if you’re 16-25 you signed up to the entry pass system as talked about in my tickets blog so you don’t miss out on things like this! 

** Seriously, sign up to entry pass

Near us in the audience was Hattie Morahan who is currently giving away her heart and soul every night at the Duke of York’s in ‘A Doll’s House’. Our first thought when spotting her was that even following her exhausting show schedule she still comes to the theatre on her day off – snaps for Hattie! This little fan girling moment, however, does lead me nicely into the additional information I wanted to share with you in this blog post. 

After years of being rejected at box offices, failing to persuade them that my £20 was better than letting their seat go unsold, I have finally found success. It started one day when I was trying to get standing seats for Les Miserables (when the house is sold out you can pay to stand at the back of the Dress, if you’re in comfy shoes it’s worth it) when my friends jumped in front of me on Shaftesbury Avenue and told me not to bother as they were all gone. It was 7.17pm and we didn’t want to waste our trip into town so decided to bash our heads together and think what theatres could accomodate us at this time. Long story short, we ended up at Mamma Mia paying £20 for great seats. As it was a popular show I had never seen before I considered that a bargain. The following week I walked past Matilda with a group of friends at 2.25pm and thought we might as well just pop in and ask. We managed to get best available (which were incredible) for £30 – again, an absolute bargain based on the popularity of the show. Then last week I popped into ‘A Doll’s House’ (aaaahhh, there’s the link) and got a great seat for £10* and finally, the example of £5 with Edward II. 

*This one I really recommend you do. Morahan’s performance is not to be missed. Many people study ‘A Doll’s House’ in their time so if you are studying or have studied the play this version is a must see. If its the only production you ever see of this classic, go see hers. 

So there’s another cheap(er) method of getting tickets to add to your list. Tomorrow I’m going to queue for ‘Chimerica’ as that is the latest on my list of must sees. Let me know if you have any success getting into any shows last minute. There’s no harm in asking a box office if you’re just walking past. Why not go on a Sunday? You’ll get to see a great piece of theatre and be home in time for Downton Abbey – what could be better? It was the perfect send off to my three weeks of homelessness and it’s a way I wish I could spend every Sunday. Happy Last-Minute-Ticket-Hunting and Happy (premature) Sunday!

As an aside: I’m sure you’ll all be pleased to know that I’m all settled in my new house and that my theatrical paraphernalia is out in force. Here’s a small section of my new room, feel free to play spot the stagey item. 

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Amongst my belongings is a picture of the composer Charles Miller. It was my ‘Teachers Pet of the Year’ award from LSMT. It sits with pride on my shelf.

 

“It’s Sunday morning, so make a joyful noise. (Joyful noise) unto the lord! Today’s the day god hath made. It’s Sunday! Sunday! It’s Sunday! It’s Sunday morning, so make a joyful noise unto the lord!”

– Rebecca Ridout

 

This week something happened that affected the majority of people I know in a very big way. Yep, you guessed it – The iOS software update for the iPhone (bear with me, I am going somewhere with this). With change comes complication and I had to completely wipe my phone in order to get it to work properly again. However, being me, I found a silver lining to this annoying circumstance. I got to re-download all of my podcasts. I know what you’re thinking, my life is crazy exciting. Just in case you aren’t a slave to Apple products I’ll add the information that when you haven’t listened to your podcasts they leave a red notification bubble on your screen. I cannot be dealing with these reminders clogging up my floating picture (my favourite feature of the update) of Mary Poppins. I’ll just have to listen to all my podcasts again – joyous news. I have been absolutely loving listening to them all over again and felt I needed to share the happiness. I fear that people may have missed the podcast bandwagon and that needs to change!

If you aren’t a podcast person I do not blame you – I never used to be. It was actually my friend Jack who introduced me to them earlier this year with an episode involving Mandy Patinkin talking about his time in ‘Sunday in the park with George’. Straight away Mandy’s voice was filled with passion when talking about the song ‘Move On’. I was swooning away at his commentary when his voice changed suddenly and he got all choked up, I stopped swooning and was hanging on his every word. He talks about how cannot listen to ‘Move On’ because he misses it too much and that ‘Sunday (ITPWG)’ was the best part of his life on the stage. I challenge anyone who performs to listen to that podcast and not well up (I cry every time but I am an overly stagey emotional person). Naturally I had to hear more so I downloaded the entire Sondheim series. I have since downloaded the entire Masterworks Broadway podcast collection. There are interviews with critics, creatives and the Broadway legends themselves. As well as snippets of scores you get to learn about the works and hear the experiences of the people involved. For a nerd like me, nothing could be more appealing.

To get them in your life your options are as follows:

  1. If you have an iPhone* download the Podcast app, search for Masterworks Broadway, subscribe and then download all of them so you can listen to them without internet streaming (the perfect commuting companion).
  2. If you don’t have an iPhone but do have iTunes, skip the app step but search for Masterworks Broadway in the iTunes Store.
  3. If you don’t have either of the above you can listen to them all via the Masterworks Broadway website.

*NB: I am not being endorsed to advertise Apple products. I wish I was.

So that’s it for this week really! Short and sweet, spreading the Sondheim and general stage love.

As an additional note, remaining on the Sondheim theme, my theatrical visit this week is to Guildford to see ‘Putting It Together’. I adore the show and cannot wait to see it live – especially with the incredible cast line up of this production (David Bedella, Daniel Crossley, Janie Dee, Damian Humbley and Caroline Sheen).

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“This chair is completely out of proportion”

If you don’t get the above reference then you clearly haven’t seen the 1999 Broadway production which is a huge gaping hole in your life that you didn’t know about. Unfortunately you can’t watch the whole thing on Youtube (you have to be crazy like me and buy an American DVD player just to watch your theatrical DVDs) but you can watch one of the best showstoppers of all time here. You should also try and get to Guildford to see this limited run (4 shows only Friday – Sunday) – I’m going tomorrow (Friday). Hopefully I’ll see you there, or, if not I hope you’re at least listening to the Sondheim podcasts in solidarity. Let me know if you managed to avoid tears at the Mandy Patinkin ‘Move On’ episode and if you find any podcasts that you love. Happy listening!

PS. More Sondheim: on this day (26th September) in 1957, West Side Story opened at the Winter Garden Theatre, Broadway.

“Every moment makes a contribution, every little detail plays a part. Having just a vision’s no solution, everything depends on execution: putting it together- that’s what counts!”

– Rebecca Ridout