Blog 12


null

Tasha’s ‘Threepenny Opera’ Blog No 12 – “Fun While It Lasted, But Now It Has Ended….” (Polly’s Song)

So, the final week of ‘The Threepenny Opera’ Tour crept up on us as we found ourselves staring at ‘that moon over Soho’ for the very last time.  Subconsciously I think that we really, as a company, felt the brunt of our ‘3p’ message, particularly in the preshow where there was an even stronger urgency to get those ‘Save The ILF’ petitions signed and pinpoint our very poignant and political themes within the show.  We did this with gusto and, of course, enjoyed much hilarity along the way as we drew the production to a close.

There was much time for reflection this week as Thursday evening saw us holding our ‘End of Tour’ party at the Lounge Bar and Grill in Leeds.  They put on a lovely spread for us and sported a vast array of cocktails for us to sample…dangerous!!  The evening also saw us holding the ‘Threepenny Opera’ Awards Ceremony (sponsored by Leopard Print and Argos Ironing Boards) hosted by myself (Lucy) and the lovely Will (Tiger Brown) with the help of the amazing Martin on Sound.  We touched on all of the ridiculous tomfoolery that we had encountered over the four months…and hilariously, everyone managed to get nominated for something!…(My personal favourite being Milton (Macheath) winning the ‘Brecht Estate’ Award for Amendments to the Script.)  The night, for some, did not end there however, as the hardcore of the group found themselves in the casino until the early hours…how do they always end up there??!…and you will be pleased to learn that Joey (MD) and Max (Filch) celebrated great success with their £10 and £6.50 winnings, respectively!  It was a fab evening and we were even greeted by Pete and Sarah (Team ‘New Wolsey’) sporting the most impressive suntans I have ever seen  following a well deserved holiday!

The next afternoon we were introduced to Michele Taylor, a member of the Institute of Equality and Diversity Practitioners where, due to her research needs, we were given the opportunity, as a company, to reflect on the show as a piece…a gem that we rarely get the chance to voice!  Well, what a glorious afternoon it was to hear that your colleagues and now friends, share your love and pride  for the piece that you have collectively strived to make incredibly special.  Oh, and a few of the company just couldn’t help themselves and piled back into Akbar’s Indian Restaurant  on Friday night for one final company curry hurrah!

So, onto the silly stuff, which of course there was plenty of…beginning with CiCi (Polly) who managed to fall backwards over the ‘wedding breakfast’ basket in the gang scene while Ben (Jake) found himself slightly unstable as he tried to balance on top of the harpsichord!  He then managed to get himself in another pickle in the wings causing Amelia (Jenny) to fall over him in a quite a spectacular fashion…karma!  In other news, I managed to leave my own jacket on the ‘Peachum Platform’ during warm up…and there it remained until the interval …silly!  Meanwhile, Jude (sign interpreter) was busy getting her high heels stuck together during the ‘Socrates Song’ making the art of alking tricky, Sophie (Dolly) stacked it spectacularly after the ‘Epitaph’ thinking nobody had seen…I did!…and Pickles (Matt) tried to exit the prison scene backwards only to smack himself into the wall…lovely!!  I suppose I should mention the this week’s ‘Breaking Music’ Award goes to Amelia for her tuneful build up to ‘Liebeslied’ and Barbara (Betty) busted her pillow swelling mechanism again due to over enthusiastic inflation!

Saturday, our last day, was one of sincere sadness and ultimate celebration on a triumph of a show!  This was highlighted by Ben wearing his lime green mankini underneath his costume for the whole of the last matinee and a glorious screening of TJ’s (Smith’s) ‘The Smith Show’ snippets over the tour beautifully edited by the wonderful Stacey (Nellie).  This could only be equalled by Dani (Team Wardrobe) compiling a montage of Stephen’s (Ned’s) terrified/ing scream on the entrance of Rev Kimball…that should go viral!  Oh, and not to name and shame but Martin (Team Sound) added Boyzone to his iTunes library…Macheath, get him next!!

So, for me the journey didn’t end on Saturday night as I had the pleasure of chauffeuring Max, Joey and Milton home to London…after finding TJ’s lovely gift of 3 pennies on the driveway…via my mum’s house where they were suitably fed and watered and Milton took the opportunity to have an unashamed flirt, yes, with my mother!!!…Show’s over dude, you’re not Macheath anymore   This could have been a backlash to me saying to him “Do you want to call shotgun”…Milton: “What, to shoot Max?”  Me: “No, to sit in the front seat!”…AWKWARD!!!  Thankfully, after 7 hours, we were home…ouch!

Somehow though, I know this is not the end for us as a bunch.  Milton and Jude are off to Brazil to continue the ‘Belonging’ journey, Stacey shall be joining the Graeae clan to do the German performance of a concert version of ‘Reasons to be Cheerful’ alongside the likes of John (Narrator), Garry (Mr Peachum), Stephen, Pickles, Jude and Roshni, while myself, John, Joey, TJ, Teya (Joey’s better half), Pickles, Stephen and Victoria all reunited on the Monday after in Westminster to protest against the ‘ILF’ closure and on Tuesday the gang were back together for a trip to ‘Jersey Boys’ to see Sophie’s husband Stuart King play Bob Gaudiou at The Piccadilly Theatre…we just can’t stay away!!

It’s really difficult for me to round this up as it is my last…but I have to say the hugest thank you to the wonderful ‘Threepenny Opera’ clan for allowing me to blog about all of our madness and mayhem…and for being such a fantastically fabulous bunch of people.  It’s been a scream, a romp, a riot and I, with a slight tear in my eye, say goodbye to ‘The Threepenny Opera’ and am immensely proud that we all did a damn fine job!

Thank you for reading and supporting and please remember…the show is over but the message is still true…I care and I hope you do too…”What keeps a man alive?”…good question!

Big hug, kiss and farewell from…

Natasha Lewis…aka…Lucy Brown.

#3popera  #SaveTheILF  #BecauseWeAreWorthIt

 

Blog 11


null

Tash’s ‘Threepenny Opera’ Blog 11 – ‘Love Will Flourish or Will Fade Away…’ (Liebeslied)

So, our penultimate week was jam packed with activities both social and work related with plenty to report from the West Yorkshire Playhouse.  It seems like only yesterday that we were all ‘meeting and greeting’ at Graeae HQ in London and it’s hard to believe that this incredible tour is drawing to a close…but that has not wound down on the fun factor by any means!!

Tuesday morning saw a bunch of the gang congregating in the Trinity Shopping Centre for a cheeky spot of ‘show promotion’ in our own anarchic manner, complete with protest songs and ‘Mack The Knife’…and John (Narrator) literally throwing his 3 pence at the musicians for good measure…too kind of him!  This got him in the mood to co-chair the final post show discussion of the tour with Garry (Mr Peachum) with great gusto on Wednesday evening.

There were plenty of backstage antics occurring this week beginning with Dani (Team Wardrobe) upping the stakes on her ‘surprising Max’ moment by greeting him in the wings dressed as a human sized beer bottle on Tuesday and a human sized egg on Wednesday!  This must have excited Max (Filch) to exhaustion because, come Act 2 beginners, he was nowhere to be seen…cue Moby (CSM) to panic that we were a man down, only to find him sleeping peacefully on the Peachum platform!  This obviously spurred Moby to get his verbal revenge by announcing over the tannoy on Thursday that “11 of you are going to be very quiet tonight unless you come and get your mics”…ingenius!

Don’t worry, there was plenty to match this on stage too.  Garry kicked off proceedings by managing to mistake a pretty female usher for a boy in the pre show followed by Stacey (Nellie) pinging her hair clip across the stage prior to the ‘Cannon Song’ on Monday.  Back to Garry, he then decided to embellish on his dialogue and embark on a delightful piece of alliteration with his new and improved line “a dangerously dainty dish…” What would Brecht say about that??!!  This is probably what inspired Pickles (Matt) to state on Saturday’s matinee to Macheath that “a coronation without you is like a fish without chips…”fish and chips/egg and salt… potato potahto!

Max had a couple of moments of joy on Thursday as he proceeded to throw a bread roll across the table during the gang scene only for it to ricochet beautifully off Milton’s (Macheath’s) head…(must have been his big hair)…so sorry was he that he decided not to play the ‘Song of Inadequecy’ even though he was there…poised and ready to do so…gorgeous!  This was immediately followed by Milton tripping over the break on the platform while talking to me (Lucy) and the ‘Threepenny Police Force’ (TJ & Stephen) wheeling me on stage on my elegant chaise longue and banging me into the wall…thank you!  (Smith was probably in a rush to catch the lingerie shop before it closed!)

All of this was ‘fine and dandy’ but it really was the week of Will (Tiger Brown) as he gave us more than a few tasty treats to peruse over!  This began on Wednesday when he took a solo bow after John had invited the audience to attend the post show discussion and the curtain call was over…this was just an ‘amuse bouche’ for what was to come on Saturday as he was distinctly absent from his scene with Smith in the prison…spurring TJ to shout “Shall I bring him to you Brown?”…lovely lovely!  He then rounded it all off fabulously by making up a couple of lyrics in the Act 3 Finale…cue…operatic riffing…tremendous stuff!  I hasten to add that, all of this aside, we were graced with another week of fantastic audiences that were blissfully (and thankfully) unaware of all of the above!

This week saw a plethora of taxi themed calamities beginning on Tuesday when myself, Sophie (Dolly) and Joey (MD) found ourselves attempting to get a cab from the taxi rank and learning that all 26 of them were on their dinner break!  We were eventually entertained by one driver who would only comply if his best friend could sit in the front and come along for the ride!  Thank goodness as it was Sophie’s turn to feed her digs landlady’s pet hedgehog!!  This then set the ball rolling for the following telephone conversations on Wednesday:  Tash: “Can I book a taxi please?” Response: “This isn’t a taxi company, this is a bar!”…and…Joe (Bob):  “Can I order a taxi from the West Yorkshire Playhouse?” Response: “Where is that?” Joe:  “Quarry Hill, LS1.” Response:  “We are in London, so no!”…Happy days!

Thursday night was the first of two big celebrations as we threw the lovely Helen (Access Team) a hen do as she was leaving us on Saturday to get married.  This was a cue for a huge party…complete with surprise drag appearances from John, Milton and TJ…gifts and yet another spectacular baked creation from Drew (Team Sound).  After weeks of secret planning, the gorgeous bride to be was suitably shocked and went on to have a fabulous evening!  Friday night then saw us piling into Akbar’s Indian Restaurant for a sensational curry to mark the end of Drew’s time with us as he buggered off to St Lucia for some well deserved sunshine!  We will miss you both…big sad face.

I know that this week’s musings have been particularly ‘blooper based’ however, as our audiences have grown over the past fortnight and been so appreciative, I feel that it’s good to express that we have a great balance of fun across the board.  So please do join me next week for my final instalment from the ‘Threepenny Opera’ UK Tour…I’m off to play with my new ‘shaky egg’ maracas courtesy of one Sophie Byrne….thanks for reading…Bye!

PS…Drew…thanks for the cheese straws, I’m a savoury girl and they were delicious…and…Helen and Simon…have a fabulous wedding day on Saturday…we will be thinking of you!

#3popera  #SaveTheILF  #BecauseWeAreWorthIt

Natasha Lewis…aka…Lucy Brown.

Blog 10


null

Tasha’s ‘Threepenny Opera’ Blog No 10 – ‘Children Today, What Can We Say, Someone Didn’t Bring Them Up The Proper Way…’ (Kids Today)

After a week away from the dulcet tones of Mr Weill the ‘Threepenny’ team were reunited once again on Wednesday morning at our final venue, The West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds…I cannot believe how quickly that has come about, I guess time does fly when you are having fun!  We certainly were thrown back into the swing of things with a wonderful bang (!) as we were introduced to our largest house of the tour with a foyer covered beautifully with our ‘activist’ banners and a canteen full of cake!  (If you hadn’t already established…I like cake…a lot!)

Well, lots to report for this week so I’d best crack on…beginning with our final technical rehearsal of the tour.  Tech days are often the source of much hilarity and this one was no exception!  Sophie (Dolly) kicked off the comical proceedings when she managed to bang her head on her overhead microphone at the top of ‘Kids Today’ creating a monumental bang which subsequently caused her to fall off her little wooden foot stool and laugh her way through the remainder of the number…it did not, however, end there as so hilarious did she find this that she then toppled off the crate she was sitting on and dropped all of her saxophone accessories (and there are a lot!) on the floor!  In the wise words of Barbara (Betty) “Member of Occupational Health for Sophie Byrne please!”  This was gloriously followed by TJ (Walt) introducing himself to Polly as Walt Disney instead of Walt Dreary…this was probably more for our amusement….success!!  He did however encounter a slight fail at the top of the Act 1 Finale with a wonderfully bum note on his cello…instant karma?!  Meanwhile, the beggars of Peachum’s Emporium (Stacey, Stephen and Barbara) were busy swapping clothes and shoes and I (Lucy) managed to fall out of the prop bed in the dinner break whilst having a cheeky ‘spoon’ with Sophie and Stacey (Nellie)…in the words of Graeae’s Amit Sharma…IDIOT!!!  The statement of the tech was provided by Rosie (ASM) who ‘innocently but boldly’ announced “I’ve got a screw, I just need a driver”…hmmm…bite your tongue Lewis!  The tech day was rounded off perfectly by Ben’s (Jake’s) homemade Chocolate Oreo brownies and Dave’s (JK’s PA) gorgeous lemon drizzle cake…enough to rival any of Drew’s (Team Sound) fabulous baked goods…I feel a ‘Threepenny Bake Off’ coming on!!  Wow, all that and we hadn’t even opened yet!

Moving on to Thursday’s dress rehearsal…following the intense tech on Wednesday…the show was in great shape ready for the dress and looked absolutely phenomenal on the Playhouse stage, needless to say that we were an excited bunch!  In hindsight it was perhaps a bonus that the dress was there seeing as we hadn’t done the show in over a week and there were maybe a couple of creases to iron out! (RIP Ironing Board!)  For one, TJ managed to ‘break music’ again in exactly the same place as the previous day…cue stifled giggles from all!  (I would like to clarify that this was a freak coincidence and did not continue for the remainder of the week!)  He did, however, then develop a severe case of ‘slippery fingers’ as he failed to keep hold of his harpsichord legs, consistently dropping them in spectacular slapstick fashion…beautiful!  I then found it necessary to, completely obliviously, blow my nose in the wings in every gap in Macheath and Tiger Brown’s dialogue…apparently rather loudly…creating more ripples of hysteria amongst the band on stage…sorry guys!  This was topped perfectly by Joe (Bob) who then missed his cue to bring on Macheath’s asparagus due to him teasing me about said nose blowing incident…brilliant!  Oh, and Garry (Mr Peachum) thought it was wise to go out of his way to pinch me while exiting his scene in Act 2, only to subsequently collide with my stationary trombone stand …never mess with ‘Team Bone’ Mr P!

Having said all of the above, we then opened on Thursday evening to a sensational audience and banged out a pretty marvellous show so well done all.  It was also lovely to be reunited with directors Pete and Jenny (Bonnie & Clyde) on Friday before Press Night and thankfully they were full of their usual support and praise…even though  Milton (Macheath) managed to fall up the auditorium steps after failing to stop his phone from ringing with its particularly jaunty tune during the notes session, Victoria (Mrs Peachum) was busted for having a cheeky snooze and Moby (CSM) was having fabulous fun filing his nails with Macheath’s flick knife…great stuff!  Needless to say, Press Night was another cracking show and we were treated by the WYP Team to a lovely little soiree in the bar afterwards.

The remainder of the week (that being Saturday!) was a roaring success and it was lovely to be back in the swing of things…even though Milton did the majority of Act 1 with a particularly ‘fly away’ prosthetic scar…rip it off TJ!!…Pickles (Matt) managed to save his rogue drum stick during the Act 2 Finale and CiCi (Polly) managed to wear her funeral dress backwards while I was busy hitting Barbara in the head with my trombone in the Act 3 Finale!  John (Narrator) decided to chase CiCi round the stage for the duration of Saturday’s warm up…aptly accompanied by Sophie on tenor sax with the Benny Hill theme tune…and then enjoyed a fantastic impromptu Hawaiian guitar solo note at the end of the Pimp’s Tango later that evening.  I have to say, however, that the epic fail of the week went to me (see, I do shame myself too!!) for managing to remain on stage, by myself, fixated on the cheering audience…even after the curtain call had finished and the remainder of the cast were vacating the stage…wally!

In other news, the company congregated for a ‘Save The ILF’ photo on Saturday, we said a happy hello to our new member of Team Sound, Tom and a sad goodbye to Dave (JK’s lovely cake-bearing PA).  A few of us trotted off to the gorgeous City Varieties Theatre on Sunday to support our director Pete Rowe’s other fab show ‘Miss Nightingale’ which was glorious, and then found ourselves, completely accidentally, in Akbar’s Indian Restaurant where we celebrated yet another birthday for Stacey…more happy returns than the Queen that one!!

 

…And breathe!!  Well that’s it from me for now…I look forward to reporting on our penultimate week of the tour…very sad face…oh, and if anyone asks, Moby fell over due to excessive roller blading, true story!!…Bye!

#SaveTheILF  #3popera  #BecauseWeAreWorthIt

Natasha Lewis…aka…Lucy Brown.

Blog 9


null

Tasha’s Threepenny Blog 9 – ‘So Long Ago and oh so Far Away…’ (Pimp’s Tango)

So our third and final week in Birmingham (sad face) crept up upon us rather quickly which left the ‘Threepenny’ gang with plenty to cram in before we left. It’s astonishing how rapidly the time is passing as we whizzed through the last seven shows of our penultimate venue. It also seemed as though the weather was on our side which enabled us to enjoy a few cups of coffee (!) by the canal whilst enjoying the beautiful sunshine.

The entire company were treated to a lovely tea and cake afternoon on Friday hosted by Stuart and Roxana from the Rep which was delightful…and we were presented with the completed sketches of the show from artist Tom Jones who I mentioned in last week’s blog…and they were fantastic!

This week was particularly social…beginning on Tuesday with a lovely and civilized ‘cheese and wine’ evening hosted by Pickles (matt). This ‘cheese and wine’ soiree was like no other in the sense that it also incorporated a cheeky bit of rapping…where Moby (CSM) and Ben (Jake) particularly excelled…TJ (Smith), Max (Filch) and Stacey (Nellie) tried their hand at a bit of ‘avant garde’ wall climbing and Pickles banged out a fabulous musical playlist…so exhausted was Max that he needed a little lie down by the end of it all!

Thursday evening saw the company congregating yet again for a belated birthday boogie for Stacey…dance hall of choice…REFLEX!!! The perfect recipe for a brilliant night…a barrage of 80’s tunes, a revolving dance floor and an abundance of helium balloons…priceless! So come Friday morning (at 10.15am!!) at the Rep where a performance of ‘Refugee Boy’ was occurring in the studio, it was the ‘hard core’ of the group that peeled themselves out of bed and into the theatre!…Hats off to you! Finally, following our final performance in Birmingham, a bunch of us, joined by former Graeae CSM Roshni, piled into the Yardbird for a sneaky bit of jazz…lovely!

This week was exceptional as the audiences grew and responses seem to escalate, with the crowd often up on their feet and a wonderful complete standing ovation on Saturday night…the perfect way to end a great three weeks! However, there was the odd mishap every now and again that kept proceedings fresh and fruity starting with the blood red curtain refusing to drop at the top of the show on Monday…cue ‘Super Rosie’ (ASM) to dart on and save the day! Thank you please! This was immediately followed by Barbara (Betty) managing to break her ‘fake hump mechanism’ resulting in a slightly less than impressive swelling than usual! Stephen (Ned) had an interesting moment during ‘The Ballad of Easy Life’ where he managed to lose his shoes…awkward!…and I (Lucy) finally gave CiCi (Polly) a black eye by launching a polystyrene prop cake at her face…sorry!!

Verbal calamities were also out in full force this week when Milton (Macheath) announced to me that “every now and then I give her (Polly) what passes for a crisp” (instead of a ‘kiss’) and followed it up by referring to his beloved Polly as ‘Poddy’!…Sorry, who??!! Luckily CiCi’s immediate response was “Oh Mac, it was such a s&*% time”…Freud!!! None of this, however, could top the priceless moment on Saturday night where John (Narrator) announced his speech for the top of Act 2 at the top of Act 1…only to be told by Jude (sign interpreter) that this was wrong…cue…rapturous applause from the audience from the audience when he eventually did get it right…that would have been a speedy show!

This must have had a domino effect for the music as John gave us an extra “Big ben Bell Bong’ ™ in the prison and again in thee ‘Epitaph’ which is probably why Joey (MD) spat all of himself in the Act 2 Finale. He then went on to ‘break music’ in the Peachum Morning Song but was valiantly rivaled by Sophie (Dolly) in the Act 1 Finale!…Joey then retaliated with a rogue note following a ‘Call from the Grave’ from the piano…ok mate, you win!!! With all of this going on, Sonia (Maisie) thought she had escaped unscathed having entered with her clarinet line two bars early in the Overture…she didn’t! In her defence, that one is so weird, nobody would have noticed!!!

For the weekly culinary report Amelia (Jenny), Joey and myself took a lovely trip to Pizza Express to take full advantage of Orange Wednesday…we thought we would be resourceful and save one for after the show and left it in the Green Room as to not stink out the dressing rooms…come to 22.23 hours, it was gone…we will find the pizza thief…watch this space…for the record, my money is on Will (Tiger Brown)! On a happier note…John and Drew (Team Sound) were up to their usual baking shenanigans as they embarked on a blueberry cheesecake for Martin’s (Team Sound’s) birthday…and it was delicious even if the process was hilarious! There is a video circulating titled “Baking with John Kelly featuring Special Guest, Drew” and it does come with a warning “Do not attempt without a professional chef present”!

In other news, Joe Vetch (Bob) managed to leave his microphone on stage in the warm up preceding Thursday’s matinee…he was promptly reminded by Stu (DSM) over the tannoy that “the house is now open so go and retrieve it subtly like a ninja”…beautiful! Sophie was faced with much ridicule when she managed to trip over in the dressing room and land in the laundry bin…I was, however, hit with ‘instant karma’ when I did exactly the same thing moments later….shame!

Wow…sorry that was such a long one but you will have a fortnight to recover as…yes, you’ve guessed it…we have a week off! So join me in two weeks where I shall be reporting from the final venue of the tour…Leeds. (Where, hopefully, people will remember to turn off their mobile phones during the ‘Barbara Song’!) Thank you Birmingham…Bye!

Natasha Lewis…aka…Lucy Brown.

Blog 8


null

Tash’s Blog 8 – ‘You ask your neighbour round to eat, he’ll steal the shoes from off your feet…’ (Act 1 Finale)

Week 2 at the Birmingham Rep proved itself to be just as eventful as the first with plenty of outings and tomfoolery to speak of!  It was nice for the ‘Threepenny Gang’ to relax slightly and have their days free to do some exploring of this fabulous city…whether that be a spot of shopping at the Bullring, having a nose around the incredible newly-refurbished Birmingham Library or sitting on a bus from your digs in Moseley and doing a full circuit of the bus route because you missed your city centre stop…I swear that wasn’t me!!!!?!  Not quite so relaxing however for Jude (sign interpreter and Milton (Macheath) as they embarked on a week of daytime rehearsals for Graeae’s exciting next show with Brazil’s Circo Crescer e Viver ‘Belonging’ whilst doing ‘Threepenny Opera’ at night…exhausting!

 

There were several social events to speak of this week beginning with an impromptu trip to the ‘Tap & Spile’ pub on the canal following Tuesday’s post show discussion.  With everybody on such good form this promptly inspired Amit (Graeae) to organise a ‘dual cast’ curry at ‘Imlees’ where Team ‘Threepenny’ were reunited with Team ‘Belonging’ for a fabulous feed!  Thursday evening saw many of the gang take in some jazz at the ‘Yardbird’ followed by a boogie at Nightingales…where Ben (Jake) had so much fun, he just couldn’t bear to leave…cue Dani (Team Wardrobe) and CiCi (Polly) for immediate ‘intervention’!  After all that, there was only room for one more social gathering…seeing in midnight for Stacey’s (Nellie’s) birthday and this was achieved in spectacular style complete with a ‘live’ 15 minute countdown (second by second I might add) from John (Narrator)…The Guinness Records Trust have been informed!  In the midst of all this excitement, we were also introduced to artist Tom Jones (not the Welsh singer!) who had managed to beautifully capture many moments from the show in sketch form.  It was incredible to see that he had managed to create a storyboard of the whole performance so accurately with such character while maintaining the essence of the piece…inspiring!

 

There was a distinct culinary theme this week in the world of John Kelly (Narrator) as he turned his attention to his other vocation as ‘sous chef’ for Drew (Team Sound) while creating his latest edible delight…an upside down pear and almond cake for Stacey’s birthday…yet another triumph from our ‘Threepenny’ bakers!  This must have triggered John’s sweet tooth as he faced his ‘dilemma of the day’…whether or not to buy a life size chocolate sculpture of Lionel Richie’s head which was retailing online at £499.99…luckily it was offered with free shipping so perhaps that was enough to sway him! In other food related news, Stuart (DSM) almost delivered a lighting cue late on Saturday evening as he was happily sucking on a piece of phallic shaped confectionary…amazing!

 

It was an exciting week for Barbara (Betty) as she was acquainted with her brand new ‘orthopaedic’ whore sandals on Tuesday…so thrilled in fact that she managed to ‘accidenatally’ crash the cymbal, hit the woodblock and break the drum stool…all during the Act 3 Finale…genius!  Meanwhile, continuing on a shoe theme…Sophie (Dolly) spotted her ‘whore-shoe twin’ tottering down New Street and Milton (Macheath) managed to put his fancy patent leather spats on the wrong feet at the top of Act 2…bless him!  It was a spectacular wardrobe week for Stacey as she managed to play ‘The Ballad of Sexual Imperative’ with her hot pants undone and almost enter the stage for the top of Act 2 on Friday with no hot pants at all…thank goodness that’s the ‘whore house’ scene!…At least Jude (sign interpreter) was on top of all things wardrobe…being particularly meticulous with her laundry!

 

Top of the ‘show calamity’ list this week was mighty Max (Filch) who called Moby (CSM) during Saturday’s warm up to inform him that he was running a little late…to the surprise of Moby who hadn’t noticed that he was missing in the first place…brilliant!  This followed Max’s epic ‘stackage’ in the Peachum/Whore scene on Monday where he managed to poetically trip over his own feet, landing on his face!  CiCi attempted a spot of method acting on Tuesday where she attacked me (Lucy) with her curling tongs while Joey (MD) managed to walk Amelia (Jenny) into a wall…twice!  At least there was good news for Will (Tiger Brown) on Saturday as he won the ‘Threepenny’ Grand National sweepstake…drinks are on you Will!

 

After a week where we saw TJ (Smith) bonding with an inflatable parrot and Sophie using the show to address her ‘phobia of placards’ I am pooped!  So I bid you farewell until next week when I shall be reporting on our final week at the Rep…Bye!

#3popera #SaveTheILF #BecauseWeAreWorthIt

Natasha Lewis…aka…Lucy Brown.

Blog 7


null

Tasha’s Blog 7 – ‘Live life in luxury, that’s what it’s for…’ (Ballad of Easy Life)

Hello Birmingham!  That’s right, this week the ‘Threepenny Opera’ gang landed at the newly refurbished Birmingham Repertory Theatre and, truth be told, it looks fabulous!  It was wonderful to see that the theatre had completely embraced the essence of the show, decking out the front of house areas with ‘money trees’ upon which audience members could attach ‘leaves’ that represent things that are important to them, plus mini placards where they could write their own slogans.  Also, we were given another hugely warm welcome from the Rep team, complete with a glorious feed at the Press Night party on Thursday evening and a lovely ‘Company Lunch’ on Friday afternoon.

So, following three much anticipated days off, the gang were reunited on Wednesday to commence the third technical rehearsal of the run.  With the auditorium and stage at The Rep being so vast it took some adjusting but we soon acclimatised ourselves and had the show looking and sounding pretty sharp!  This was not, however, without our fair share of hilarity along the way…beginning with TJ (Walt) maintaining his theme of destroying his props within seconds of having them in his possession…the latest victim being his Faberge Egg!  He was later the subject of naughty Stephen’s (Ned’s) attention when he found himself suspiciously handcuffed to the scaffolding set piece!

It must have been a full moon on ‘Tech Wednesday’ as Will (Tiger Brown) and Dani (Team Wardrobe) found themselves ‘negotiating vertical’ as they simultaneously fell over the harpsichord in the stage left wing…meanwhile, Amelia (Jenny) managed to brutally ‘attack’ Ben’s (Jake’s) manhood with a prop newspaper…ouch!  The rehearsal was rounded off nicely by John (Narrator) referring to the ‘Threepenny Curtain call’ as the ‘Threepenny Curtain Company’…well that would put an interesting alternative spin on the show!!  I am pleased to announce that he did manage to redeem himself with his Grammy Award Winning compositional gem, ‘Bunkerland’!!

By the time Thursday night rolled around, it was time for Press Night and we banged out a particularly stonking show (special mention to Sophie (Dolly) for her magical rendition of ‘Mack The Knife Reprise’) and we certainly celebrated in style!  The Rep put on a fab ‘do’ and then it was on to ‘Eighties-Tastic’ Reflex for a spot of cheesy frivolity!  Somewhere along the way Stephen acquired a gigantic bunch of blue helium balloons which he managed to parade down Broad Street in the early hours while Moby (CSM) turned his hand to a spot of breakdancing…so many hidden talents in this company!

This week seemed to sail along relatively calamity free…but then, it was only three days long!  Friday evening, however, was clearly the night for it as Victoria (Mrs Peachum) managed to lose her shoe prior to the ‘Ballad of Sexual Imperative Reprise’ resulting in her performing the whole thing barefoot.  This was then followed by me (Lucy) making a dramatic dash to play my one note on the triangle, only to miss it completely…klutz!

Saturday saw us celebrating another cast birthday (once Garry (Mr Peachum), Stacey (Nellie), Pickles (Matt) & Stephen had returned from a Bovril filled afternoon of Birmingham vs Bournemouth FC), that’s right, this week it was the lovely Joe (Bob).  So in true ‘Threepenny’ style, super-baker Drew (Team Sound) created a Battenberg-esque masterpiece and card and cake were beautifully presented to the birthday boy by the gorgeous Stephen who was appropriately dressed as ‘Pirate Jenny’ in full make up, hair extensions (blond and brunette) and a purple bra…this was also in aid of his ‘drag selfie’ to support Breast Cancer Awareness.  So, following that evening’s show we all piled into the Jazz Bar down the road for some live music and were joined by the lovely company of Graeae’s next show, ‘Belonging’, which will also feature our Milton (Macheath) and Jude (sign interpreter), who also came to support us on Press Night earlier in the week.  Wonderful to see the two casts bonding so nicely!!!

Well that’s it from me for this week…but I will leave you with one top tip…if you are ever moving house make sure to recruit the help of Rosie (ASM) who meticulously bubble wrapped everything to safely transport between venues…including the company tea towels!!  See you next week…Bye!!

#3popera #SaveTheILF #BecauseWeAreWorthIt

Natasha Lewis…aka…Lucy Brown.

 

Blog 6


null

Tasha’s Blog 6 – ‘It’s always swings and roundabouts, and nothing comes for free…’ (Socrates Song)

Busy, busy, busy is what it’s been on week 2 at the New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich with plenty of ‘Threepenny News’ to report.  We were blessed with a week of fantastic audiences ending with standing ovations in both shows on Saturday plus a bunch of cracking reviews!

Wednesday matinee was preceded by a touch tour where CiCi (Polly) found herself reunited with the guide dog with whom she had had a stand-off with whilst playing the panto cat a few months previously!  Also, following a ‘plan of action’ pow wow at the Ramada at the weekend, a ‘Save The ILF’ petition was introduced to the ‘Pre Show’ antics…paving the way for more avenues to be explored regarding putting a halt to the latest proposed government funding closure.

Monday evening saw ‘The Threepenny Opera’ company celebrating St Patrick’s Day in style, hosted by the ever accommodating St Jude’s Tavern.  Garry (Mr Peachum) and John (Narrator) led the vocal extravaganza of rambunctious traditional Irish songs, aided along the way by Barbara (Betty), Will (Tiger Brown), Max (Filch) and Amelia (Jenny) with a chorus of the entire company intermittently joining in….and a particularly beautiful and haunting rendition of ‘O Waly Waly’ from Victoria (Mrs Peachum) placed a perfect shamrock on the evening’s festivities.  So the night was a roaring success, beginning with a glorious sing a long and ending with a boisterous round of arm wrestling resulting in an unarguable triumph for Martin (Team Sound)…while ‘David Bailey’ of the company, Stephen (Ned) had his hands full, seeking out show themed beer mats…fabulous fun had by all!

Monday evening saw ‘The Threepenny Opera’ company celebrating St Patrick’s Day in style, hosted by the ever accommodating St Jude’s Tavern.  Garry (Mr Peachum) and John (Narrator) led the vocal extravaganza of rambunctious traditional Irish songs, aided along the way by Barbara (Betty), Will (Tiger Brown), Max (Filch) and Amelia (Jenny) with a chorus of the entire company intermittently joining in….and a particularly beautiful and haunting rendition of ‘O Waly Waly’ from Victoria (Mrs Peachum) placed a perfect shamrock on the evening’s festivities.  So the night was a roaring success, beginning with a glorious sing a long and ending with a boisterous round of arm wrestling resulting in an unarguable triumph for Martin (Team Sound)…while ‘David Bailey’ of the company, Stephen (Ned) had his hands full, seeking out show themed beer mats…fabulous fun had by all!

It was a jam packed week of social events as CiCi, Pete and Dave (Team Wolsey) did a fab acoustic gig at the Spread Eagle on Tuesday night (where Stacey (Nellie) and myself (Lucy) got asked for ID at the bar….smug!) and Friday saw us taking a little trip to Jimmy’s Farm.  It was a fun filled day of animals, zip wires, wooden police cars and a monumental amount of food…which also saw CiCi taking a detour via ‘Aberzaijahn’ to get there, TJ (Smith) get bitten by a goose, Teya (Joey’s lovely other half) bonding with the guinea pigs, Joe (Bob) staring lovingly at the rabbits and stating “that’s SO Watership Down” and Dani (Team Wardrobe) head butting a plastic cow!  The fun was enhanced later that day when Pickles (Matt) instigated a cheeky game of ‘buckaroo’ involving balancing various random objects on John’s electric wheelchair during that evening’s warm up…inspired!

The show is in fine shape and just seems to evolve further from one week to the next.  However, this would not be possible without the occasional accidental rewrite….beginning with the compositional skills of Pickles who managed to change the song ‘Bill Lawgan & Mary Kay’ to ‘Billy Brown & Mary Kay’ on Monday and ‘Billy Morgan & Mary Kay’ on Tuesday!  This promptly inspired Milton (Macheath) to create the following script amendments…”Lucy, I’ll send for you, express dewibery” instead of ‘express delivery’ (perhaps he meant ‘midwifery’?!), “Lucy, the fruit of our heart which you are carrying beneath…(SILENCE)…love”…err?? and “meet my wife, the farmer Miss Polly Peachum” (* former)…perhaps they met at Jimmy’s!  This could possibly be why Garry decided to leave the “door of jestiny” (as opposed to ‘destiny’) ajar on Friday evening…beautiful!

These moments were made all the more magical by a couple of musical appendices to join them.  The first was provided by ‘yours truly’ with an impromptu trombone ‘parp’ that presented itself during the dramatic silence that precedes ‘Pirate Jenny’.  This was followed by Sophie (Dolly) almost managing to stifle her giggling whilst playing her flute during the ‘Epitaph’.  This could have been the result of her suggesting to Max (Jimmy) that he incorporate ‘throwing up down her saxophone bell’ as part of his ‘drunk acting’ during the ‘Cannon Song’…only to hit him in the face with it when he complied!

This week also saw a couple of ‘balance negotiations’ thrown into the mix beginning with a subtle trip from Stephen while he signed ‘Mack the Knife’ swiftly followed by Milton doing his nightly floor slide and managing to head butt my knee in the process!  This was trumped however by Amelia who, after a completely ‘accidental’ but personal interaction with Barbara, managed to walk herself into the wall before the ‘Barbara Song’!  She then tried to redeem herself by running to do her saucy ‘cage dancing’ one ‘salvation’ prematurely during the Act 3 Finale!  At least she had a lovely birthday on Saturday, complete with a fantastic ‘dairy free’ birthday cake courtesy of our very own ‘Mary Berry’, Drew (Team Sound), and an expressive facial dance performed for her by Victoria and a mini cheddar!

Well, apart from Sonia (Maisie) managing to hand her hotel key card, along with her receipts, to the finance department, it seemed like it was a relatively calamity free week!  All that’s left to say now is that we have had a fabulous fortnight at the New Wolsey, named ‘Most Welcoming Theatre’ for a reason!  Join me next week when I shall be reporting on the shenanigans of the first week of three at the Birmingham Rep!  Bye!

#3popera #SaveTheILF #BecauseWeAreWorthIt

Natasha Lewis…aka…Lucy Brown.      

Blog 5


null

Tash’s ‘Threepenny Opera’ Blog 5 – “Life is so perplexing, that is why we find it tough!” (Song of Inadequecy)

 

Following a gloriously triumphant start to ‘The Threepenny Opera’ tour at the Nottingham Playhouse, this week saw us arriving at venue 2 of our travels…The New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich.  Hats off to our fabulous crew who finished the epic ‘get out’ in Nottingham at 4am on Sunday morning and packed all the gear off so that come Tuesday morning when the rest of us arrived we were ready to begin our second technical rehearsal of the tour.

With the two theatres differing so vastly it was intriguing to see how the show would adapt to this lovely and intimate space…well it did and it was great!  Tuesday morning began with a sound check which ran incredibly smoothly…apart from TJ (Smith) not managing to sound check his 3 notes in ‘The Barbara Song’ on his clarinet!  (We’ll do that first next time!)  Following an instrumental theme, Sophie (Dolly) then provided us with a fantastic involuntary squeak in ‘Pirate Jenny’ only to blame it on the utterly innocent Sonia (Maisie)…Those crazy clarinets!!  Thank goodness Ben (Jake) was on hand with his custom made ‘Threepenny Opera’ M&M’s to dissipate the situation!

With Tuesday’s technical rehearsals out of the way, we were ready for two shows the next day…and what a warm welcome from the Ipswich crowd!  So, by the time Press Night rolled around on Thursday we were well into the swing of things…despite Stephen (Ned) managing to kick Joe (Bob) in the particulars during a rehearsal earlier that same day…ouch!  The show, it has to be said, was fabulous with an electric energy from the company and a glorious reception from the audience at the end…probably spurred by Ben ‘photo bombing’ Graeae friend and patron Richard Wilson in the foyer during the pre show!  So in true Wolsey style, we slung on our glad rags and trotted off to the theatre bar for a lovely feed and then on to ‘Arlington’s’ for a cheeky little party!

Saturday matinee was preceded by the first ‘touch tour’ of the run where visually impaired and blind audience members were able to meet a few of the cast and stage management and have some of the vital and more outrageous props and costumes audio described and have a feel.  This included CiCi’s (Polly’s) wedding dress (the one with the death trap train!), Macheath’s cane and my (Lucy’s) baby bump.

For our first week in Ipswich, there was no shortage of ‘alternative show drama’.  This began with ‘Schimmel’ the show horse acquiring her own Facebook account…followed by the cast birthdays of Garry (Mr Peachum) and Barbara (Betty) respectively…and these were marked in spectacular style by the culinary skills of Drew (Sound Dep) who began a love affair with the ‘AGA’ in his digs and produced two sensational birthday cakes…you can keep those coming!  There was less good news for Martin (other half of the Sound Dep) however when Victoria (Mrs Peachum) ‘accidentally’ ate his lunch…thank goodness there were M&M’s and cake!  On another food related note, Stacey (Nellie) and Barbara completed their highly disciplined detox and, come Press Night, were ready to celebrate in style!  This is obviously what inspired John (Narrator) and Pickles (Matt) to seek out the ‘haute cuisine’ that was a ‘tray of meat’ for £4.50 at a local kebab shop…yum!

With a show of this magnitude I am constantly in awe of just how impressive it is.  However, the experience is always enhanced by the on stage unforced ‘funnies’ that sometimes occur…and of course I do have a few to report.  Firstly, on opening night, Jude was greeted with a sneaky little surprise in the whore house when a lamp shade flew in and rested on her head.  This was aided by an exchange of dialogue between TJ (Walt) and Milton (Macheath) where the latter corrected the former on the pronunciation of ‘Faberge’ with the identical pronunciation that needed correcting in the first place…like this…Walt: “Faber-gay” Macheath: “Faber-gay”…great stuff!  Meanwhile, Pickles managed to punch himself in the face with his gun, John decided to ‘cheer up’ the extremely solemn ‘Epitaph’ with an improvisatory bit of bell ringing, TJ (Smith) discovered a distinct femininity to his policeman and Stacey found a new resting place for her trumpet in the form of the Green Room!  The chart topping blooper of the week however was from John who managed to relocate  the ‘Coronation Procession’ to ‘Coronation Street’ which spurred Sophie to paint on her placard of protest ‘Ken Barlow for PM’…ingenious!

The week was rounded off perfectly by two tremendous shows on Saturday followed by a company trip to the sea side in Southwold on Sunday where Victoria managed to knock Amelia (Jenny) and CiCi off a stationary cannon!  While some of the company were sunning themselves on the beach and splashing about in the sea, John was lazing in his hotel room donning his lime green mankini and having an absolute ball!

 

With that perfect image, I bid you farewell…until next week…Bye!

 

Natasha Lewis…aka…Lucy Brown.

Blog 4


null

Tasha’s ‘Threepenny Opera’ Blog No 4 – ‘This calls for the mailed fist, sergeant sound the alarm!’

 

After four glorious weeks of rehearsals, teching and shows it was time to bid farewell to the wonderful Nottingham Playhouse.  This venue was always going to be particularly poignant being our first and we couldn’t have asked for a better kick start to the tour.

With the show ever evolving and continuing to grow from strength to strength it was deemed necessary for the company to start filling their days….this week saw Pickles (Matt), Garry (Mr Peachum) and Stephen (Ned) taking in a cheeky football match at Notts Country FC, Sonia (Maisie) and Sophie (Dolly) sporting fancy new hair dos courtesy of a ‘Tony & Guy’ pampering session, Stacey (Nellie), myself (Lucy) and Sophie joining the Nottingham locals for a spot of comedy aqua aerobics (it’s harder than it looks!) and upon discovering the gem of the vintage shop ‘Baklash’ a good proportion of us invested in an array of bargain leather jackets…Milton (Macheath), however, did not stop there and left Nottingham with a whole new colourful and eclectic wardrobe!  Simultaneously, the company were treated to the magic fingers of Rina Fatania, deep tissue massage extraordinaire who worked wonders with all of the company random aches and pains…however, she would have done well to advise caution to calamity Milton regarding the misuse of tiger balm in the upper thigh area!  Fail!!!  Amidst all of this jam packed action it has to be said that the social events of the week were the superbly organised and delicious company curry, courtesy of Joey Hickman (completely redeeming himself for ‘post office-gate’!)  and Saturday’s sensational folk jam session in the CAST bar led by our own Garry Robson…fantastic!!  (Meanwhile, CiCi (Polly) discovered the art of more fine dining…Domino’s anyone??!!)

We were delivered a particularly upsetting blow of bad news on Thursday when we learned that the government funding for the ‘ILF’ (Independent Living Fund) is to be closed despite battles by disabled people to keep it open and a landmark victory over the government in the High Courts in November.  This funding is integral to the control of the lifestyle of disabled people who require support in their everyday routines.  With this funding scheme comes a freedom and independence that can only be obtained when individuals are given control of their own support and given a choice with regards to what that would entail.  Everybody is unique and so, therefore, are their routines.  The ‘ILF’, along with local authorities, enables each situation to be addressed separately so that each individual concerned can maintain their own support package to live independently and this is addressed in a manner of relevance that only the person concerned could decide.  Read more about the closure of the ILF here: http://disabilitynewsservice.com/2014/03/independent-living-fund-closure-we-fight-on/.
So, how ironic that we should be performing the platform of political speech that is ‘The Threepenny Opera’ and in true anarchic style ‘Save the ILF’ appeared on a placard in the show within minutes of this appalling decision being announced in Thursday’s matinee.  The battle has begun…..#SaveTheILF #BecauseWe_R_Worth_It

On a lighter note, we are always partial to the odd on/off stage idiosyncrasies and this week definitely did not disappoint!  This hilariously began as early as the pre-show one evening when one particularly enthusiastic patron embraced the ‘activist approach’ and shouted to some to “get back to prison”…it was later discovered that said patron was in fact Will’s (Tiger Brown’s) Dad!  Brilliant!  This was topped by Barbara’s (Betty’s) ‘fake swelling’ inflating so rapidly that it burst…while still attached to her back!  Stephen (Ned) managed to choke on a bread roll during the gang scene and giggle his way through his monumental line…glorious!!  John (Narrator) treated us to a spot of improvisation as he accidentally gave us an extra ‘Big Ben Bell Gong’ prior to Macheath’s execution while I managed to sign the ‘Socrates Song’ confidently but slightly prematurely on Saturday evening.  Max (Jimmy) proceeded to rewrite the script on Friday, when asked “if he had any notion what a gentleman is?”  He sublimely replied “I know the one I difference between one and a lay,”

This way subsequently equalled in full force by Amelia (Jenny) who relocated the whores from Drury Lane to ‘Dooby Lane’ prior to the ‘Epitaph’…lovely stuff!  I end the comic mishaps by exposing Milton and TJ (Smith) as this week’s ‘premature bowers’ in the Curtain Call…see Joe (Bob), you’re not the only one!

Backstage antics have been developing in full force this week with ‘stylised choreography’ in the wings during the beautiful ‘Socrates Song’, slightly more risqué movement to the ‘Coronation drumming’ from Babs, myself, Amelia and Victoria (Mrs Peachum) and the inspired, ever growing back story of Smith (TJ Holmes) who has become an ambassador for dental hygiene…Oh, and Max proved himself ever thoughtful by volunteering his prosthetic arm to Sophie so that she could retrieve her pound coin from under the theatre deli counter…thank you!

We had a visit from our directors Pete and Jenny this week to keep us in check and ensure that we were still doing the same show that they had originally produced!  It was lovely to see them again and fabulous for Victoria who was encouraged by Pete in the midnight notes session to hit Garry significantly harder than she already had been!

That’s it from me for now, but I will say a huge thank you and a sad goodbye to The Playhouse for being such warm and accommodating hosts and a highly anticipated ‘hello’ to the New Wolsey, Ipswich.  See you next week!

PS…One word of advice…never leave your iPhone unattended in the presence of Ben Goffe (Jake) or Amelia…latest victims…Sophie Byrne and Victoria Oruwari respectively…people, you have been warned!  Bye!!

Natasha Lewis…aka…Lucy Brown.

Blog 3


null

Tasha’s 3p Opera Blog No 3 – “Here comes Macheath, a lethal kind of charmer….” (Song of Sexual Imperative)

“It screams belligerence and does so with glee” said The Stage…”A visual & musical feast” said Musical Theatre Review…5 Stars and “A show conceived with magnificence” said The Big Issue…that’s right folks, Tuesday night was Press Night and it was an exhilarating evening on all counts!  From ‘Pre-Show’ to finale the atmosphere was electric and the audience response was delightful.  I think that ‘Team Threepenny’ more than did justice to the piece, so inevitably a well- deserved ‘do’ was to follow!  Having spent the previous 3 hours clad as whores and beggars it was glorious to see everyone don their glad rags and let their hair down to celebrate.  (I would like to say that it was a tee total/early night affair but I would be fibbing….and we definitely didn’t end up in the Casino!!!)

 

In order to get to this point we did have a few comedic interludes to overcome.  Our Tuesday morning notes session revealed that Moby (Company Manager) was so fond of the scaffolding set piece that he refused to let go of it when Joe Vetch and Stephen Collins (Policemen) tried to bring it on the stage…cue: awkward struggle…result: hysterical laughter in notes session (with tears) when this was announced from John Kelly (Narrator).  Pete’s (co-director) response to this was “I’ll try to get him to play more nicely!”  Gorgeous!  This was teamed with the conundrum of how to begin ‘The Threepenny Opera’ following the Pre Show…after much deliberation the best system seemed to be…Moby (CSM) cues Stuart (DSM) who sends a green light to Joey (MD) who cues Sophie (Dolly) to tell John (Narrator) to get off stage and retrieve his jacket from Stacey (Nellie) who cues Barbara (Betty) to begin the drum roll which starts the show….wow, that was exhausting!  You will be pleased to learn that we did find a simpler way!

 

Wednesday evening saw our first ‘post show discussion’ of the tour led by Giles Croft (Artistic Director of the Nottingham Playhouse) and it was a fascinating insight into the audience’s perception of our madness!  It was wonderful to learn that our show was making people think in a different way and also sparked a riveting debate regarding our current social and economic climate…eloquently summed up by our sign interpreter Jude Mahon with “hang the bankers!!”…all in a Brechtian context of course!!! We did also welcome a new member of the clan, Vya who has joined our Access Team….wonderful to have you on board!

 

On a more serious note, Thursday morning saw many of the cast joining the Playhouse staff at the Nottinghamshire County Hall for a protest against the appalling 100% cut in funding for the theatre.  This is a cause very close to our hearts with the Playhouse being a fabulous producing house that pioneers some incredible work.  In true anarchic fashion, the company managed to keep the point strong but cheery with various musical jaunts, my personal favourite being a reworking of ‘Mack the Knife’ which incorporated the lyrics…”But you won’t see council funding, once they’ve slashed it, then it’s dead!”  Inspired!  So much so that Sophie Byrne (Dolly) broke her ‘Save the Playhouse’ placard with enthusiasm!

 

In other news, this week has been a treat for us in the sense of humorous mishaps which is one of the fantastic aspects of doing a long running show…Wed evening saw Milton Lopes (Macheath) sing his incredibly intense ‘Epitaph’ with a rogue piece of paper stuck to his foot while Stacey Ghent (Nellie) managed to ‘break music’ in the super slushy ‘Liebeslied’!  Joe Vetch demonstrated a fine ‘RSC’ style bow in the Curtain Call…sadly it was wasted as it wasn’t his turn yet and Joey Hickman (Rev Kimball) managed to paraphrase his only line to perfection!  On the theme of creative wording, Milton wins the prize for his alternative lyrics to the above mentioned ‘Epitaph’ with “I’ll follow you and I will follow you!  CiCi Howells (Polly) closely followed suit with “Promise you’ll never look at another man…” Interesting, Shakespeare, watch your back!  The weekend was one of sheer calamity when Pickles (Matthew) found himself colliding with Ben Goffe (Jake) in the ‘discreet exit’ and spectacularly stacking it on the floor…I must note that the execution of his recovery was something to behold!  This was eagerly followed by me (Lucy) falling off a chair, tripping over my own heels (Bambi style) and then hitting myself in the head with a drum stick…must have been a full moon over Soho!

 

So it’s been a fabulous week with a fantastic sense of achievement laced with a cheeky dose of mischief…while Garry Robson (Mr Peachum) was having a whale of a time riding the trams of Nottingham, one Mr Ben Goffe was putting his IT skills to good use as he managed to break into my Facebook account and change my birthday from 18th August to 27th February…you can imagine my bewilderment when I had a barrage of ‘Many Happy Returns’ 6 months prior to my ‘21st’ celebrations!!?!  Ben…revenge is nigh!  (Thank you however to the company for a beautifully harmonious ‘Happy Bday’ in the vocal warm up…very funny!)

I have to say that I have learnt many things this week…the BSL sign for my home country ‘Guyana’ (courtesy of Stephen Collins), the meaning behind the ‘Hemline Economy’…”Women’s skirt lengths are correspondent to the economic climate” (courtesy of Joe Vetch) and “You have to leave some space in your face to act” (sound advice again from Joe Vetch!)…feeling enlightened, I thank you all!  It’s been a sensational 7 days of fabulous shows and ridiculous mayhem and I hope you’ll tune in next week for more fun and games from ‘The Threepenny Opera’ Crew!  Bye!!

Natasha Lewis…aka…Lucy Brown.

Blog 2


null

 

 

Tasha’s ‘Threepenny Opera’ Blog 2 – “We all deserve prosperity and freedom, and happiness is everybody’s right….”

Hello!  So the ‘Threepenny Opera’ clan have been a busy bunch this week as they embarked on a hectic technical rehearsal, a dress run and two fantastic preview performances.

With such a complex musical score and such intricate (although not always eloquent) dialogue, it was admirable that everything appeared to be in pretty good shape at the beginning of the technical proceedings!  To great credit, our own ‘Team Bonnie & Clyde’ (aka co-directors Jenny Sealey & Pete Rowe) seemed to sail through the tech and dress in a calm and collected fashion…which could only have set a precedent for the rest of us…

 

However, there are always the odd incidents that make technical rehearsals magical moments to remember when actors are united with their props for the first time.  This was no exception when our fabulous TJ Holmes (Walt Dreary) managed to smash his ceramic plant pot within seconds of having it in his possession (all fixed now).  This paved the way for the lovely Joe Vetch (Bob the Saw) to then ‘saw’ into his own thumb instead of the harpsichord legs in the gang scene.  All that was left was for beautiful Barbara Hockaday (Betty) to drop the floor tom drum during the intimate opening murmurs of ‘Mack the Knife’ and we were set for the dress rehearsal!  (Having said that, the fact that we teched a show of this magnitude in under 48 hours was nothing short of impressive!)  Thank goodness for the wonderful team at the Nottingham Playhouse who kept us stylishly fed and watered and Graeae’s Associate Director, Amit Sharma’s hilarious impromptu compositional skills throughout this whole process which inevitably kept all spirits high!

 

By the time Friday’s dress rehearsal rolled around we were all geared up and extremely excited at the prospect of doing this for the first time with an audience.  I have to note at this point that not only did this involve the undertaking of acting, singing, instrument playing and choreography but adding the Access elements of signing, audio description and operating of powerpoint captions & videography as well.  All in all it was an epic task and was delivered fantastically by all…there were of course the odd hiccups that made this equally joyous but none that could compare to Will Kenning’s (Tiger Brown’s) valiant attempt to ‘very solemnly’ pronounce the word ‘Azerbaijan’  which unfortunately came out as ‘Aber-Ab-Aberzaijan’ (or something to that effect)…cue hysterical laughter from the rest of the company!

 

So with all of this occurring on Friday afternoon it was time for us to focus on Friday night…our first preview performance.  It has to be said that without a doubt the company came together and delivered an exhilarating opening show which made you know you were a part of something to be incredibly proud of.  The audience were electric and it was a phenomenal evening…even though Stacey Ghent (Nellie) had to battle with a particularly persistent rogue fly whilst playing her trumpet and CiCi Howells (Polly) and myself (Lucy) managed to simultaneously sing the same ‘alternative lyrics’to the ‘Jealousy Duet’!

Our ‘notes’ session the following morning reflected the thoughts of our ever encouraging creative team (Pete, Jenny, Rob & Mark) which were incredibly positive and it also stemmed the best quotes of the show so far….”When in doubt, drink!” (Pete – referring to the gang scene…obviously!) and John Kelly’s (Narrator’s)  response to minimising colourful language in the pre-show…”My ears are not a sewer”…Priceless!

 

 

Saturdays’s preview performance was a joy with yet another sensational audience.  I think we all enjoyed our second opportunity to play and the response at the end was phenomenal!  Again, we had a couple of ‘funnies’ that ranged from Milton Lopes (Macheath) getting his hair caught in Tiger Brown’s jacket in the ‘Cannon Song’, CiCi Howells making a beautifully premature entrance into Act 2 before the scene had been introduced and Max Runham (Filch) managing to punch himself in his particulars with his own prosthetic arm to Ben Goffe (Jake), Stephen Collins (Ned) and Milton all managing to trip on Polly’s elaborate wedding dress at various points in the evening!

After such an exhausting but wonderful week Sunday was time for a well-deserved rest…for some this meant venturing back to wherever home is and for others it was enjoying an epic roast at The Roundhouse, Nottingham where we witnessed one Ben Goffe devour not only his own dinner but the remainder of mine, Sophie Byrne’s (Dolly) and Amelia Cavallo’s (Jenny) too…where does it go???

 

All that’s left do now is wish our ‘Signing Extraordinaire’ Jude Mahon a very Happy Birthday and hope that John Kelly finds a name for his horse….suggestions please!  Until next week, where we embark on another preview and press night…goodbye!

Natasha Lewis…aka…Lucy Brown.

Blog 1


null

Tasha’s 3p Opera Blog 1 – “…These may seem like scary stories, but don’t have nightmares or be upset…!” (Mack the Knife)

Hi! So I’m Natasha Lewis and if any of you followed the cast blog from the ‘Our House UK Tour’ you will be familiar with my jovial ramblings… but if you didn’t, I am delighted to be documenting the upcoming shenanigans of ‘The Threepenny Opera’ Tour and hope that I can give you a little something to whet your appetites in preparation for our rumbustious new show.  It’s already been a glorious roller coaster of grit and hilarity and I am sure that this is a trait that can only continue to thrive!!

We are now about to enter technical rehearsals but let me cast my mind back to four weeks ago… was the drizzly Monday morning of the 20th January 2014 when something amazing began… the entire ‘Threepenny Opera’ mob congregated for the first time at the Graeae HQ in Shoreditch, London for our initial ‘meet and greet’.  Faces from all five fabulous producing forces (Graeae, Nottingham Playhouse, New Wolsey Ipswich, Birmingham Rep and West Yorkshire Playhouse) came together with our 18 strong cast, access and creative teams to say hello and welcome, drink coffee and play a cheeky game of ‘Name Speed Dating’ (courtesy of one Jenny Sealey – co director) before embarking on a primary read through of the show.

 

With a collection of cellos, trumpets, accordions, pianos, clarinets, flutes, piccolos, a guitar, banjo, trombone, bassoon, double bass, an extensive percussion set up and an entire extended family of saxophones plus a plethora of excited faces in the room, the atmosphere was nothing short of electric!  So it was without further ado that we all jumped into our new world of gangsters, swindlers and ladies of the night to piece together our version of Brecht and Weill’s classic piece and believe me there were some sights to behold…no spoilers but I will say that we have discovered a new dimension to silver service dining, created  a sensual atmosphere through the unlikely sources of the timpani and double bass and witnessed Milton Lopes (Macheath) learn the complex art of ‘flick knife management’ which has been a sheer joy!

So a few weeks on we are now about to embark on the epic week of technical rehearsals which will end with our first couple of previews…but it has not been without our fair share of fun and frolics along the way…..music has been played, lines have been said, dancing has occurred and laughter has been in abundance!  I have never experienced a production where so many skills are being exercised on the stage at any one time with beautiful and witty Sign Language, Captions, Audio Description plus a bag full of fantastic acting, vocal and instrumental performances to boot….this is going to be one hell of a journey!

 

A couple of social events have already occurred in the form of a delightful evening at the Nottingham Playhouse to see ‘My Judy Garland Life’, a company curry, and a trip to the Nottingham Royal Mail Depot via Edinburgh (or so it felt!!) courtesy of our tour MD Joey Hickman!  We have also enjoyed a couple of company birthdays…Pickles (Matt of the Mint) and Barry (John Kelly’s PA) which have resulted in much cake being consumed and maybe a couple of cheerful beverages…

 

All in all, it has been a cracking few weeks and I look forward to filling you in on the tour goss from this week forth!  Join me next week for all the chat from our tech week and opening night……til then, bye!  (PS….Joey….where’s your accordion??!!


Natasha Lewis…aka…Lucy Brown.

Looking for something in particular?

Sign Up

Want to stay in touch with the New Wolsey Theatre? Of course you do!