As a teen and a member of the youth theatre during the days of Steven Pimlott, Martin Duncan and Ruth Mackensie I remember them coming into workshops and rehearsals to find out about what we wanted to see and experience and take a very active interest in what we were doing. There was one session in which we had about an hour's discussion with them about Nathan the Wise - a boring play, but was interesting to talk to them about it before we were due to see it.
Their first season, when they flooded the stage for the themed Venice season was a good season. Water Babies - the family show that year, was fun and I think if it was done a few years later may have had a future. Their Merchant of Venice was visually stunning and other shows that season took the whole idea of the flooded stage (in the main theatre) to a great momentum. Their passion to have a rep cast and have a set piece that was shared in all designs I loved. Again in their 'Out of This World' themed year this was a Greek themed column/balcony/entrance at the back of the stage. Just So that year (2004 I think?) blew me away - I lost count of how many times I saw it. As well as Master and Margarita, Out of This World and an amazing Midsummer's Night Dream - this season was the one that really made me have a massive passion for the theatre. I was lucky enough to be involved more in the youth theatre show for the 2005 season as I was on my gap year and spent most days in the theatre seeing the sets being changed over and the casts milling around - I remember being awe struck when I was in the scene dock and seeing the huge panels for How to Succeed - and sharing the green room with Alistair McGowen! I also got to meet Jonathan Church during this time - not knowing who he was, but he seemed like a really sound guy and into the theatre and everything that was happening.
There's no doubt that Church and the people who have helped and worked with him have done some great stuff - you just have to see the number of shows that have transferred and done amazingly well. On top of this season (which Barnum being the only thing I've seen) may not have been so great, but all considering what's happening physically there was a great achievement. But I'm with the previous poster who's annoyed that Church gets given all this credit. Yes, the trio before didn't have the great successes, but they stopped the theatre being turned into an ice rink which one counsellor wanted!! And although it meant the theatre spent most the year dark it gave it a whole new lease of life.
I dont promote my blog as Ive only recently started writing, I just do it to get down my thoughts. But I have just written a small piece about behaviour at a show prompted by some rude & unruly audience members at Jersey Boys on Fri night. I'm just copying a couple of paragraphs so you can see what happened. This is true:
I was sat in second row of the Prince Edward theatre as I wanted a really close view of the stage, it's the first time I've been sat so close, but figured for once I'd give it a go. Had I been in my usual chosen area I would have no doubt been in the thick of seeing what was happening about a dozen rows behind me. However, I could hear it all! I heard a rumble of noise really from the start of the show, I never thought too much of it as from my experience, people can get slightly excited when a show starts. But approx 40 minutes into the show the noise got louder and there appeared to be what Lou from Little Britain would describe as a "kerfuffle" taking place. Being so close to the front it was not possible to see but I most definitely knew there was an issue. Whatever it was caused a small ripple across the stalls.
During the interval I wandered up to the foyer and that was when the fallout from the kerfuffle took place. I saw at least two women worse for wear being what can only be described as downright rude to the Front of House staff. Their indignation at not being able to "enjoy" themselves was unbelievable. Clearly their enjoyment was to be at the expense of the hundreds of other people in the auditorium! They actually shouted at the member of FOH that they were told not to dance on the seats! Well would you do this at home? No wonder theatres are requesting a restoration levy to pay for repairs. Quite rightly the FOH member dealing with the problem told them that they needed to be calm. One of the women said she'd paid for her ticket, the reply to this was that the ticket entitled her to watch the show, not participate in it! I felt this was a reasonable and fair response. I didn't stay to watch so I was unsure of the outcome. If they returned to the stalls I was not aware as they must have been quiet. I'm secretly hoping they were thrown out on their annoying backsides or at least felt some shame due to their behaviour!
I dont want to be a killjoy & I appreciate some audience participation in a show like this, I clap along when appropriate & even stand at encores when encouraged by cast members ie Jersey Boys, Rock of Ages, Mamma Mia etc. But I wouldnt dream of standing on seats and then being rude to FOH staff. Poor behaviour is ruining some shows
I love the Menier as a venue, I love that they can change the auditorium completely to suit each show. I've also seen some great productions there in the past.
This show however I didn't like. I don't particularly like Sondheim though so I was a bit of a lost cause, but I just found the piece dull, and I agree with the person who said they didn't feel any chemistry between the 3 leads. There were some plus points to it, Clare Foster being the main one. She's delightful! the ensemble had a lot of energy too. But apart from the fact the story runs backwards, I don't find it that interesting.
I know it's bad of me.. But I can't wait to see it now. I love a truly terrible musical every now and then to remind me how great the good ones are when they come around. It's just a shame for the talented cast ..