One of the shows that we were looking forward to seeing was Kander and Ebb's The Scottsboro Boys. As you may know Kander and Ebb wrote Cabaret and Chicago. The show started at the Vineyard Theatre in New York, then went to the Guthrie in Minneapolis, then Broadway, and last year the Young Vic in London where it sold out. It transferred to the West End this year into the Garrick Theatre. A friend of mine, Forrest McClendon, who I have known since the late 80's and early 90's has been in all of these productions and was nominated for a Tony Award in New York. We all read the show before we went to go see it, and then met Forrest at the Stage Door after the show. He later came into the Theatre in London class to give a master class.
Here is Forrest on the billboard in front of the theatre.
We sat in the first two rows of the Dress Circle. Great seats!
Mitch Lawson, the Director of Study Abroad at Saint Mary's visited us for a few days and came to see the show with us!
The Set: Clever use of these metal chairs throughout the performance. Each chair cost $800
Forrest after the show at the Stage Door.
The master class with Forrest was inspirational. He spoke about the History of The Scottsboro Boys, his audition for the show and his journey to the West End. He spoke about his career, training, and teaching. Most importantly he spent time on Relationships:
E - Employers
L - Lovers
A - Artists
T - Teachers
I - Interns
O - Opportunists
N - Newbies
S - Schoolmates, Students
H - Heroes
I - Innovators, Investigators
P - Playwrights
S - Strangers
Miranda gets a hug! I think Gabe is jealous!
It was a great two and a half hour session and we all learned a great deal and as I said above were inspired!
Urinetown! This show started at the St. James' Theatre and transferred to the West End. It was so different from our production in every way! It was a very dark production that did not spoof musicals, theatre, and people. Bobby Strong was objectified not Hope. Lockstock was very seedy and out of it at times. By the end of the show the entire cast was covered in blood! Lots of blood. This seems to be a trait of Jamie Lloyd, the director, who also directed Richard III starring Martin Freeman. That entire cast was also covered in blood by the end of the play. The fact that it was so different and dark showed the students how a play can be interpreted in two totally different ways and still work and be wonder and tell the story. It was fantastic. We loved it!!!
This is the understudy who played Cladwell. He originally plays Tiny Tom.
Bobby Strong. Wore these glasses in the show as well.
Group photo with Bobby Strong and Little Sally (1st row center)
We also got to see other shows. Some of us saw Forbidden Broadway which spoofs Broadway shows, stars, and producers. Alan Rickman was in the audience and sat next to Gabe and Miranda.
I went to see Catch Me If You Can, a musical based on the film, at Arts Education which is London's premiere musical theatre training program. Trevor Nunn former Artistic Director of The National Theatre and director of Les Miz was in the audience and after the show I spoke to him to find out about a scene he added in his production of The Lion in Winter that we attended two years ago. The scene was between King Phillip of France and his sister, Alise. He found the scene among Goldman's personal papers that he did not include in the play or film. A great scene that ties up loose ends with these two characters. I asked him if it was available, and he said "I suppose so" whatever that means....hahaha. Anyways he really enjoyed the production of Catch Me If You Can. I am sure he was scouting future talent.
We saw God Bless the Child in the upstairs theatre at The Royal Court Theatre. The space was transformed into a 4th grade classroom complete with 8 yr old students. These kids were fantastic. A great play critiquing the education system, government involvement, budgeting, and student rebellion! It gave us a lot to think about.
Adrian Chapman, our British Literature professor, Matt, and myself saw some of the plays at the Cockpit Theatre. They were called The Iron Curtain Trilogy. I saw the first two plays with Adrian and Matt attended Pentecost, which was the play Saint Mary's did a few weeks ago. This was in a small black box as opposed to a big proscenium stage. It was very good as was The Shape of the Table. I had the pleasure of sitting in on a conversation with the playwright, David Edgar, and got to speak to him privately for quite awhile. A very intelligent man! He was excited that we did his play at school.
Other students attended Mama Mia, Wicked, The Comedy Store Improv, Billy Elliot, the all-female cast of Henry IV at the Donmar Warehouse, The Cherry Orchard at the Young Vic and the plays, John and Behind the Beautiful Flowers at the National Theatre.
We are in our last week here in London. Students have been working hard writing papers. Yesterday the Acting class performed their showcase. It was excellent! Tony James really got some good performances out of the students. Six students and myself will be studying at The Gaiety School of Acting, Ireland's Premiere Acting School in Dublin, Ireland for two weeks. Other students are travelling through Europe and Eastern Europe and some students are flying back to the United States. We have had an excellent time in London this semester. I still need to post some more of our adventures (Scotland and some of the art that was experienced through the Art in London class with Becky Hurst! Stay tuned.
As Chelsea says:
THAT'S ALL FOLKS!