Thursday, 29 July 2010

Day 5 - with a little extra Heart!

Another fabulous day today (see pictures!). We were also delighted to receive a visit from some of the Heart Angels, with their mobile DJ desk - a fantastic bit of equipment which allows you to have a go at being a radio DJ. Several of the gang had a go, declaring it very simple and deciding to give some famous DJs a run for their money!
Make sure you pick up a copy of the Bicester Advertiser as well today - there's a fab piece on page 14 on the greatest show on earth (i.e. New Theatre Stage Experience's production of Fame!)...

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Day 3

Some fab pics above taken in rehearsals today by the lovely Christina! Things still seem to be racing along at a great pace and with such energy, it makes us in the office feel tired just watching them...
T-shirts have arrived this afternoon for all the cast (to be distributed very soon) and several of the principals have answered some questions for the Oxford Mail - stay tuned for news of when their star interviews hit the shops!

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Day one: introductions!

It's lunchtime on the first day of Stage Experience 2010! And so far, everything seems to be running very smoothly indeed (touch wood...). We started the day with some words of welcome from Kerry and Ed, and Jamie (the General Manager of the New Theatre) also popped in to have a quick word about health and safety. Much screaming later (you had to be there...) and everyone was given a tour of the building in their colour groups.

Mark, our photographer, and his assistant Lawrence have been taking group and individual shots all morning for the programme. We've just got the big group shot on the main stage and 6 more group photos to do this afternoon before we're finished, so they'll be done whilst Ed and his creative team run some workshops to help everyone get to know each other and shake off those first-day nerves.

The really hard work starts tomorrow...

Friday, 23 July 2010

It's the day after tomorrow! ARGH!

Stage Experience is almost upon us! With 48 hours to go, everyone is rushing around the New Theatre trying to get everything ready. Gill, Kerry and Christina are setting up the tuck shop and putting up all sorts of signs in all sorts of places so that nobody need ever get lost over the next two weeks. Jack FM have just dropped off the goodie bags which all participants will receive, and thanks to their new air fresheners, our office now smells like strawberries!

Everything is almost in place for Sunday, when all the cast and crew will arrive for their induction tours. Remember that our professional photographer will be here to take your pictures for the show programme, so be sure to have your most award-winning smiles at the ready...

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

The lady in charge of the stage...

Name: Sarah Ripley

Role: Stage Manager

About: This is my first Stage Experience. My theatre career started a long time ago and during my career I have been involved with many musicals. I toured large scale musicals all over Britain and Europe, then just prior to starting at the New Theatre I taught stage Management at LAMDA.

What is the first musical you ever saw? The first musical I ever saw was Wild Wild Women at The Theatre Royal Windsor - it was also the first one I worked on.

What is your favourite song from a musical? ‘42nd Street’ from 42nd Street.

Monday, 19 July 2010

The Final Countdown...

It's less than a week till Stage Experience begins! ID badges are being made for all staff and chaperones, the t-shirts are arriving next Monday and the tuck shop is fully stocked!

If anyone can think of anything we have forgotten to do, please drop us a line and let us know. 6 days and counting...

Friday, 16 July 2010

And Jon said 'Let there be lights', and there were!

Name: Jon Robinson

Role: Chief LX

About: I started 17 years ago as a trainee theatre electrician whilst completing 181 City and Guilds Theatre Electricians course. I then worked at the Apollo Theatre Oxford then the New Theatre Oxford for many years whilst also being a freelance Lighting engineer and rigger for many large out door shows up and down the UK. This will be my 9th stage experience and I'm looking forward to the challenge again.

What is the first musical you ever saw? Cats

What is your favourite song from a musical? ‘Defying Gravity’ (Wicked)

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Name: Katie Clements

Role: Choreographer

About: Katie started dancing at the age of 3 and has been in love with the theatre for what seems like forever! She started working at quite a young age, her first part being that of Duffy in Annie, and her biggest part to date was in West Side Story in Leicester. Katie has been teaching for a number of years now and is a regular choreographer for John Spillers.

What is the first musical you ever saw? Hmm, I think it was Joseph and his Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat - I went to lots when I was young! My favourite would have to be Saturday Night Fever.

What is your favourite song from a musical? ‘Defying Gravity’ from Wicked – it’s amazing!

Read through report!

By all accounts, the read through yesterday was a rip-roaring success! Lots of ideas being fired about and it was very exciting to see the beginnings of the show take place. Indeed, from this photo it looks like Ed was moving faster than the speed of light!

9 days to go... Everyone in the theatre has had their photo taken so that we can be easily identified by all participants, so we're all feeling a little self-conscious today!

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

More munchies!

Kerry has just returned from a shopping trip - the tuck shop is now fully stocked!

Cast read-through this afternoon, as Ed mentioned - wishing you all the best guys.

A blog from our director on the morning of the principals' read-through!

Woke up at 6.30 with 'Hard Work' running around my head after working on the overall feel for the number for about two hours last night. Pretty sure it will work, just working out how to get all the cast on stage and moving between states without bumping into each other - I have made my peace with the fact that there will be some bumping on the first few days but hey ho, thats why we rehearse isn't it!

Had a good chat with Katie (Choreographer) and I am looking forward to the read through later, although feeling anxious at the same time so I am going to go for a run and try and shake that off before the read through.

The production schedule is coming along, although it is a logistical nightmare and I have to control the urge to delete all its contents once one thing goes wrong. It shouldn't be a surprise that organising 150+ cast, in several rooms, between several production team members etc is difficult, so maybe I should give myself a break and come back to it in a bit, yes, thats what I'll do.

There are 10 days to go but its a full on Fame week! Meeting with Amy Jackson (Assistant Director) tomorrow and Sam Barton (Production Assistant) on Friday, I have directed Sam for the past two years at OYMT and I am looking forward to working with him on this one from a different perspective. It is one of my favourite things about Stage Experience, the fact that all sorts of people do all sorts of different things, but the show wouldn't happen without all of them. Yes there is a large amount of pressure on us as a production team and the theatre staff, especially Kerry, but we have such an army of people behind us to help keep it smooth and enjoyable, they are worth their weight in gold!

So, will see a small fraction of the cast later and looking forward to it!

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Dressing up!

Kerry went on an exciting costume-procuring trip today, and brought the results back to the office to show us. Naturally, this turned into a bit of a dressing-up session:

I know that this doesn't look much like what the kids were wearing in the 1980s but that's because these costumes are for the parts in the show where the students are themselves putting on a production of 'Romeo and Juliet'. So fear not, there will still be leg warmers a-plenty!

12 days to go...

Monday, 12 July 2010

More progress...

Hello all,

Hope you had good weekends - less than a fortnight to go now, which is brilliant and terrifying at the same time... Most of the principle cast members have been in to collect their scripts so that they can make a good start on learning their lines, and the lovely Gill (more info on her in the next post) is hard at work designing the programme that we'll sell at performances. Our professional photographer Mark Brome will be taking photos of you all at the beginning of Stage Experience to go in there too, so be sure to get one as a fantastic souvenir!

Right more work now - I'll post about Gill a bit later.

Co-ordinating everything...

Name: Gill Baines

Role: Co-ordinator

About: I started working at the New Theatre at the age of 16, when it was known as the Apollo. Since then I have completed my degree in Musical Theatre, and have worked for a number of theatre companies in the UK and the USA in many different capacities. I enjoyed working on Stage Experience’s production of Bugsy Malone in 2008, and on the theatre master classes in 2009, so I can’t wait to get started with Fame!

First musical ever seen: The first musical I ever saw was Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

Favourite song from a musical: Ooooh, so many to choose from! I love to listen to ‘Rose’s Turn’ from Gypsy, and I love singing ‘Movie in My Mind’ from Miss Saigon.

Thursday, 8 July 2010

So many colours...

Kerry and Ed have spent two hours this afternoon dividing up the 150-something Stage Experience participants into colour-coded groups. This makes it much easier for us to organise the 10 days of rehearsal and to move everyone around the building, from stage to dressing rooms to rehearsal spaces, without risking losing anyone along the way!

The colours used this year are cerise, aqua, yellow, pink, blue, red, lavender, amber, green, orange, violet, grey, lime, silver and purple - almost enough to rival Joseph and his dreamcoat...

The music man...

Name: John Beswick

Role: Musical Director
About: John first worked as musical director for shows in the early '90s, working with amateur groups and schools in the Bristol area. He has since worked in theatres in Iceland, the Ameria and Ukraine, as well as across the UK. He was MD for Oxford Stage Experience in 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008, and has also done Stage Experience in Swindon (2006), Stevenage (2007) and Hastings (2009).

What is the first musical you ever saw? First show seen on TV - The Wizard of Oz; live in the theatre, a show called Time at the Dominion Theatre, Tottenham Court Road.

What is your favourite song from a musical? Too many to choose from, but ‘With every Breath I Take’ from City Of Angels is as good a choice as any.


Kerry had a meeting with our FOH manager yesterday afternoon to sort out all things food and drink to keep everyone full of showbiz energy during the two weeks of rehearsals - sugar rushes for everyone! Think there might be trips down to the Stage Experience tuck shop from the Marketing department - just to keep an eye on the stock levels you understand.

17 days to go...

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

The lady with all the power...

Name: Kerry Arnold (She's the one on the right of the picture...)

Role: Producer
About: Kerry was born and raised in Wootton, and has been working at the New Theatre in Oxford since 2002. This is the third Stage Experience she has worked on, having been co-ordinator on High School Musical (2007) and Bugsy Malone (2008). This year she has taken on the weighty mantle of producer, a role she balances with her ‘day job’ of being the theatre’s Deputy Marketing Manager.

Kerry enjoys nothing more than a good gig, and is often to be found at festivals and concerts with her friends. However, If there are none on, you can probably also find her shopping...

Which is the best musical you’ve ever seen? Wicked – it takes my breath away every time I see it!

What is your favourite song from a musical? ‘Defying Gravity’ (Wicked)

Introductions - meet the Director!

Name: Edward Blagrove

Role: Director

About: Edward was born in Oxford and is the youngest of three brothers. After training as an actor at the London School of Musical Theatre, Edward had a few jobbing actor roles before he began teaching. This led him to directing, firstly for his own production company (BMH Productions), then for Tomahawk Theatre, and most recently Oxfordshire Youth Music Theatre and Oxford Operatic Society.

Edward performed with the Company of Oliver! in the New Theatre Stage Experience 2006 and is delighted to be back, now at the helm!

As a life long Arsenal FC and England Rugby fan Edward likes nothing more than kicking back with a few mates and catching the game, either at his beloved Emirates Stadium, Twickenham or just on the telly.
Best Musical you've ever seen? A tough one, but I'll go with Grand Hotel at the Donmar Warehouse in 2005.

Favourite song from a musical? It depends on the mood, but its hard to beat the 'Tonight Ensemble' from West Side Story.

Monday, 5 July 2010


Hello everyone!

Right, we decided this would be a good way to make more backstage info available and to get everyone chatting. Stage Experience 2010 is only 20 days away, and we'll be featuring posts from members of the cast, creative team and crew so that you're all up-to-date on all things FAME...

Let me know what you want to see on here and feel free to ask any questions about anything Stage Experience - I'll get the answers to you asap.

I'm off to continue harrassing the creative team for updates now, so enjoy the fab leaping picture from the auditions day back on a sunny Saturday in April...