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Gin Craze! – Behind the Scenes with Assistant Director Tian Brown-Sampson – Week Two

Gin Craze! Assistant Director Tian Brown-Sampson lets you in on some backstage antics in this edition of her Rehearsal Room Diary! (You can read Week One here)

Gin Craze! Bubble
Gin Craze! Bubble

REHEARSAL ROOM DIARY – WEEK TWO

WARM-UPS

We continue to start everyday with 15-20 minute movement warm-up, which comprises of workouts, dance routines, stretching and/or games. 

I’ve now started joining in for the warm-ups because I like to exercise and have a groove about first thing in the morning (and generally through all points in the day). Director Michael Oakley also resigned from his duties as the group cheerleader and used the extra 20 minutes to prepare for the days’ rehearsal.

FUN FACT! Our choreographer Paul Isles was one of the original cast members for the Lion King in the West End. So Paul taught us all a short dance routine that we did to He Lives in You (reprise), which (FUN FACT!) is Michael’s favourite song in the Lion King. So he was particularly GUTTED to find out he missed out on that.

And let that be a lesson to all of us. Don’t skip out on your daily fix of exercise.

And then after we finished with movement warm-ups, Tamara Saringer then leads our vocal warm-ups which includes a variety of vocal exercises, scales and tongue-twisters.

I also tend to join along for the vocal warm-ups, but more under my breath so I don’t put myself to shame in front of all of these crazy talented people! But I do also just boogie along to them all singing and pretend that I’m the one on stage, giving the performance my life. Because, you know, it’s essential to keep the cast on their toes…

Photo: Ellie Kurttz
Photo: Ellie Kurttz

MUSICAL REHEARSALS

In just the first two days of week 2, we had finished all of Act 2 songs as well as the last Act 1 song that we didn’t cover in the previous week.

So that is all 28 songs done in just five days! Phew! 

My favourite song of Act 2 is called Bow Street Runners. When you all come to catch the show, update me on which song from each act was your favourite!

Of course, that said, as we piece everything together with the text and the choreography, the musical arrangements and even the lyrics might end up shifting and changing seeing as this is a new musical.

Lucy Rivers, our lyricist and composer, travelled in from Cardiff for Monday – Wednesday to support on everything musical. She also brought in a bunch of Mars bars and Areo chocolate bars as her son was raising money for charity with his school, and so of course we all bought up his entire stock because we love chocola— I mean, charity.

REHEARSALS

Now that we’ve officially learnt all of the songs and had done an initial working through the text, from Wednesday onwards we were finally able to get everyone up on their feet and start blocking all the scenes. 

Blocking out the scenes at this point particularly helps us with understanding where everyone needs to be if they’re playing, where their instruments are, what entrances, exits and routes are available to them and where they need to head to if they’ve got a very speedy costume change.

April de Angelis, our writer, then joined for rehearsals on the Wednesday which we were all crazy excited about. I even stole a minute to fangirl a little over April because her play The Village (Theatre Royal Stratford East) was one of my favourite productions I’ve seen and I always talk to people about it, so it felt so surreal to be in a room with her – especially in this climate!

April was with us for the rest of the week to assist with any edits in regards to the script and to help answer any questions that we had to assist us moving forward in the rehearsal process.

CHOREOGRAPHY

As we worked through blocking the scenes, we would still go through and perform all the songs and the accompaniment as that plays a very prominent part in the show. So as we would work through and block the songs, Paul would choreograph all the numbers bit by bit as we went along.

Photo: Ellie Kurttz
Photo: Ellie Kurttz

RECREATIONAL TIME HIGHLIGHTS

Aruhan Galieva (who plays Mary) has a 2 night set with Camden Fringe that she is developing, so she’s having small groups each week from the team come to watch and give feedback – and this week was mine, Paula James (who plays Evelyn) and Rachel Winters‘ (who plays Sarah Fielding) lucky week to sit in and be blown away. Not that Rachel had much choice seeing as her and Ru are flatmates!

On Friday, we were back again at Alex Mugnaioni and Peter Pearson’s place for yet another games night, and this time it was the Nintendo Switch on the menu. We all played Mario Kart and then some Overcooked. In an unexpectedly short amount of time turned into a very intense screaming match over some virtual dirty dishes. And naturally, Paul as the eldest in the room and designated “adult” of the room, very maturely and sensibly…  chose not to intervene at all and just recorded us to post on the group chat.

But you will all be very happy to know that we have all since made up and put our differences (and dirty utensils) aside and are once again one big, happy family.

On Saturday night, the Gin Craze! family returned to Brooklyn Social – we were the life and soul of the party, and were tearing it up on the dancefloor (in our designated area, socially distanced of course) and were giving award-winning performances to whatever the DJ was playing – you would think we all worked in theatre or something!

Gin Craze Cast Dancing


Gin Craze! starts previews on Sat 17 July, and runs until Sat 31 July. Book your tickets here