After two audition days, hours of hard work and lots of entertainment we have a very capable full cast. There were some surprises as people stomped into the room with vigour armed with Eastern European accents and a fresh interpretation of the characters. Richard – the writer – sat with a huge smile as people brought his characters to a life in ways he hadn’t even considered. Apparently I was like a bumble bee buzzing around with energy as leapt out of my seat and asked people to try again taking on board some direction.
Weeks later we have now started rehearsing the principals, I've produced a production version of the lib and I managed a ‘feel through’ of the show with the full company. I would like to lay my claim to coining the phrase ‘feel through’. Bear in mind Once Bitten is a new show and so there exists no recording or definitive performance. The chorus and even the principals don’t know the story or how it connects. I recall my first few Gilbert & Sullivan performances, in particular ‘Yeomen of the Guard’ where I marched on the stage as a wooden guard and was constantly wowed as the story began to evolve in front of me during the show week. That show had characters impersonating each other which made it near impossible for me to follow!
When I present or train professionals in business I recall the timeless advice, tell them what you are going to tell them, tell them and tell them what you’ve told them. Essentially tell tell tell tell tell until people are sick of you telling them. Finally, the message clicks and it’s as if you knew all along. That is the purpose of a feel through. It is part of the journey of telling the cast what the show is about and how it works. It is about communication and getting people to connect to the story and energy of the show.
We read through the show whilst moving around a sign posted set of chairs. When we hit a song we played the demo recordings. As director I flew around the set and moved people about and told members of the chorus how they’d be used in a particular scene or number. The biggest winner was how it helped our awesome choreographer Lisa visualize and start planning the movement in the show. As I sit and pencil notes on my lib having done a ‘feel through’ I actually find it easier to visualize the actors moving around the set.
At the end of the ‘feel through’ there was a tremendous energy in the rehearsal room and some people may have felt they’d been hit by a tornado, but they better understood the show. Next time when we start a rehearsed run through everything should feel familiar. A company familiar with the piece, confident and bursting with energy will produce an engaging performance. That is all I want from the Once Bitten team. Fire yourself up and engage the audience while having lots of fun doing it.