Sunday, 17 February 2013

Show's over folks: A diary of the staff musical at Woodstock

Howdi folks,

Sorry it's been so long since I last posted. We had our long Winter break which saw us spend a lovely month in Thailand, before we returned to Mussoorie and were immediately plunged into rehearsing for the staff musical, You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown, which took over our lives for two weeks.

I played the role of Linus and below is a diary I wrote of the whole experience. Enjoy! Proper web post on India to follow soon, I promise.

A shot during the "Glee Club" scene, Ed (Linus) with blue blanket in the second row, Kirsten (Patty) second from left in front row PHOTO Nan Onkka
The Secret Diary of Linus

28 September 2012
Did my audition for the staff show…not sure how well it went. I sang Any Dream Will do from the musical Joseph and his Technicolor Dreamcoat, using my dressing gown (a hand-me-down from former staff member Kathy Hoffmann) as my “multi-coloured coat”. Unfortunately as I went to throw it off it got tangled in my legs, causing much hilarity. Then in the dance audition I got annoyed and nearly gave up as my general lack of co-ordination led to frustration in the try-out. I wonder if I’ll get a part?!

9 October
I got a part! I will play Linus in the show, the kid with a security blanket from the Peanuts cartoon. Turns out my disastrous audition worked in my favour! We will start rehearsing in December, a week before the winter break. My wife Kirsten will play the part of Patty, so it’s fun to be in a production together. There are 16 of us in total in the cast, representing India, the US, the UK and New Zealand, with a good mix of teaching, residential and administrative staff involved.

1 December
Started rehearsals today, doing a read-through of the whole show. It’s very funny! All this week we’ll be practising the songs and our particular parts - I am a tenor.

20 January 2013, Ko Sumui, Thailand
Ran into Woodstock teachers Jessie Versluys and Sachi Angel in Ko Sumui today! Went for lunch with them and told them about our progress for the show. I have been trying to learn my part by listening to recordings I have made on my dictaphone, as I sunbathe. Really need to work on my blanket dance. I’m getting a bit nervous as our director and drama teacher at Woodstock, Bethany Okie (a professional actress), has very high standards, and I need to be ready to hit the ground running when we get back to Mussoorie.

26 January
Arrived back last night after catching the Mussoorie Express overnight train. Feeling pretty shattered but had a six-hour rehearsal today, “blocking” all the scenes, which means working out where you will be standing during the performance. Was pretty intense but it was good to see everyone.

Lucy (Meredith Dyson), Linus (Ed Beavan) and Patty (Kirsten Beavan) PHOTO: NAN ONKKA
28 January

Math teachers Zach Conrad and Paul Morrill and parent Craig Wiggins have started working on the set which is starting to take shape very quickly - they are master craftsmen. Meanwhile teachers Mike and Mary Ellen Pesavento and their two hardworking daughters Elizabeth and Juliana are working like Trojans on the lighting and sound, and various other technical aspects of the show. Judy Crider has stepped up to be stage manager which is great.

2 February
Just five days until our first performance, we have been rehearsing every evening after our staff training days. We did our first full run-through today which didn’t go too badly apart from a few people forgetting their cues. I have been having voice coaching lessons with English teacher Paul Roberts as I need to project my voice more to be heard. Bethany has given me free rein to improvise on the blanket dance as long as I just smile at the audience! I think I’ve nailed it now… It’s so bad it’s good!

6 February
Our final dress rehearsal went well. Behind the scenes lots of people are helping out with final set designs and props. Minda Philips, mother of SAGE student Maggie, has been a great help, while Elizabeth Pesavento has created an amazing bust of Beethoven for the Beethoven Day song. Director Bethany’s attention to detail is outstanding, she is working extremely long hours to finish everything off.

7 to 9 February
We did it! Two evening performances and one matinee on the Saturday afternoon were an absolute blast! It was such fun, and having the audience interaction added an extra dimension…happily everyone seemed to enjoy it! All the audiences were awesome, particularly the second night when they got up to dance during the finale – we all left the stage buzzing. It was interesting to see how different age groups reacted to different gags…obviously the younger kids enjoyed the slapstick moments more.

After the final show Dr Long and his wife Sue very generously hosted an aftershow party at their house. I was lucky enough to pick up the “biggest surprise” award, while Devan Landseidel picked up the “princess” award for his outstanding turn as Snoopy, and pianist Jessie Huang won “hero” award for the long hours put in learning the music and playing at every rehearsal, as well as being an outstanding accompanist for the actual performances.

Quite frankly everyone in the cast and all those who helped in any way deserve to be recognised. The show could not have happened without all the Woodstock community rallying round to help, and was a testament to the hard work of so many people here.

I would wholeheartedly encourage everyone, whether student or staff, to get involved in a drama performance if you get the chance. It’s an absolutely fantastic experience, and it will help you get to know colleagues much better.

So, who’s for a Woodstock production of Les Miserables next year?!

The final pose at the end of the show PHOTO: Nan Onkka

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