After two weeks at the State Opera Studio, the Slingsby team made their way into town to bump into Her Majesty’s Theatre. On the Monday, I again spoke to director Andy Packer, before spending Thursday in the theatre watching tech.
“This is a very fast process,” he tells me. “Normally you would have four weeks before you go into the theatre, but then you probably only have a week in the theatre, so this is slightly back to front.”
While the company originally wanted three weeks in the rehearsal room, we spoke about how opera can be quicker to put together on the floor. “With non-musical theatre,” he says, “what you’re trying do in those four weeks is find the sense of the thing – which we’re trying to do as well – but you’re also trying to find the rhythm that makes the piece. And with music theatre, with opera, that’s already set for you. The rhythm and pace, the dynamic, is in the music, so it fast tracks that process for you.”
At this half-way point, Andy was feeling “really good” about the work. “I feel like the first week was really about ‘is the story there and is it clear.’ […] I feel very happy with the flow of the piece and that’s in terms of energy levels on stage, size, variation, I feel like I’m being lead through it by the story, which is great.”
The second week, then was about blocking the work: “which, as you could see, we didn’t quite get there.” Indeed, on the Thursday in the theatre, Andy and choreographer Larissa McGowan sat down to discuss the choreography of the final number The Owl and the Pussycat, Andy’s score covered with notes.
Speaking about my rehearsal room blog, Andy said he appreciated the perspective of allowing an outsider to “observe some element of the rigour that we go through and the process that we go through to find a moment that lasts two seconds on stage – it might actually be five hours work.”