This weekend saw the annual 24 hour musical; an event which raises funds for a local charity – The Chestnut Tree House – a home away from home for sick children.
What is a 24 hour musical? Well, firstly, it’s not a musical which is performed for 24 hours – that would be far too easy a task to complete! No, it’s where a group of us get together at 7.30pm on the Friday night to learn a complete musical before performing it at 7.30pm on the Saturday night.
At 7.30pm on the first night, we are all given our scripts and told which parts we will be playing. Then through the night and all the next day, we have to learn the words and music.
Normally a musical would be rehearsed over several weeks with each rehearsal lasting about 2 and a half hours. On top of this would be at least one dress rehearsal and one technical rehearsal. That would mean in our 24 hours, we would have to combine the dress and technical rehearsals into one and have about 8 rehearsals.
Simple! Surely a musical could be put on in eight rehearsals. Well, yes, probably, assuming those eight rehearsals were on separate nights. That would give cast and crew time to go home and sleep, and time for the cast to learn some words during the day when not at a rehearsal.
It may be eight rehearsals worth of time, but there is no time for the brain to absorb everything. There is no time for the brain to have a little rest. And somewhere in that time, the body does need to be fed and watered!
And fed and watered we were! Some of the stalwart members of the theatre group prepared meals and snacks for us all and had tea and coffee virtually on tap through out the night.
So did we have blood, sweat and tears?
We most certainly did! The blood I’ll come back to, but the sweat, well that was on from the start. With our scripts we were handed a ‘rehearsal schedule’ – reading it was enough to invoke tears, but they were held back. A look down the schedule made us realise just what a task we had taken on. Especially if like some of the cast, you had never experienced one of these events before.
I was fortunate enough to be handed one of the principal roles. It wouldn’t have been the role I would have auditioned to do but with sixteen in the cast and only seven principle roles, I was lucky and honoured to get one of them! One of those seven roles was divided up among nine of the remaining ten cast members – the tenth cast member was also building the set – so he had enough to do!
Tears? Oh yes, plenty! Tears of joy when the musical was announced; tears of sorrow and possibly relief when it was all over. And tears from the audience because they were truly moved by the musical.
So, the blood. Well, there were one or two slight injuries – what would you expect when working that hard for that long when you are incredibly tired. These injuries were only minor and amounted to scrapes and scratches – I even managed to fall off the temporary staging we had to crawl across to get from one side of the stage to the other without being seen by the audience!
But the main blood, in case you haven’t worked it out was the actual musical itself – Blood Brothers! A musical I have wanted to appear in since I first saw it back in the 1980s; a musical I was beginning to think I would never appear in!
It’s difficult to single out any person in particular connected with this amazing production, as everyone gave their all and sacrificed a night’s sleep to do it. Everyone worked round each other – the crew needed the stage to build the set, the cast needed it to rehearse. Then there were the lighting guys who had to rig up the lights. Cast and crew alike were stepping over bits of set and the odd body which had found a place to snatch a few minutes rest lying where ever they could!
But I must give credit to the four main principles who learnt so much and held themselves together under such pressure. And then gave a performance which belittles the time they had to rehearse it.
The audience were on their feet as the cast took their bows. They were on their feet, not only in appreciation of such a good piece of theatre, but also in admiration for what cast and crew had achieved.
Now it’s Monday, we have all returned to our normal lives. Sunday was a bit of a blur, but it was a long, long, long, Sunday afternoon.
“Feels like everybody stayed in bed,
Or maybe I got up too soon….”
So there we are, a whole musical experience done and dusted in just 24 hours. Now it’s all over!
Tell Me It’s Not True.