How are shows put together? Interviews with directors, musical directors and members of the creative team explain just how it's done.
"Amadeus" - Dress Rehearsal Image
Music, Genius, Jealousy and Revenge
Sedos, one of London’s most talented and successful amateur theatre companies, presents Peter Shaffer’s award-winning play “Amadeus”.
Featuring beautiful music, genius, jealousy and revenge, the drama is a fictionalised account of the relationship between Antonio Salieri, official composer in the Austrian court, and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, a whacky foul-mouthed musical genius!
An Outstanding Production by Sedos
This is an outstanding production by this super-talented company, but I always like to ask just how did they do it? It’s a combination of excellent teamwork by everyone involved under the innovative direction of Director Matt Gould.
"Amadeus" - Rehearsal Image
Matt Spoke Exclusively to HubPages
HubPages: I understand you were originally a musical director and MD’d “Victor Victoria” for Sedos in 2014. You then turned to directing and gave us “Into the Woods”, “London Road”, and “Ragtime: The Musical”. Readers will be very interested to know why you changed roles.
MG: I started Musical Directing when very young and had musical directed numerous shows before joining Sedos in 2008 to musical direct their production of Grand Hotel.
I continued to Musical Direct for Sedos (and indeed elsewhere) until I had the opportunity to attend a Director's Workshop that Sedos was running for aspiring directors. I'd had the idea that I wanted to direct for a while (having spent so long in a rehearsal room behind a piano) but hadn't really known how to get into it. I loved the workshop and was complemented on my style and what I'd got out of the actors so much so that Sedos let me direct Tom Stoppard's play "Hapgood". That rather surprised everyone as they assumed that I'd want to direct a musical, but I thought that actually if I was going to direct, I needed to focus on plays, so as to avoid solely focussing on the music.
I followed that up with Tom Stoppard's “Arcadia” and then Alan Ayckbourn's “House/Garden”. The most recent show I MD'd was Leonard Bernstein's “Candide” – which was to fulfil an urge I'd had to conduct that score for years!
HubPages: When you’re directing and not MD’ing how does your approach differ?
MG: It's about focussing on the text. MD'ing is about focussing on the emotion; the musical technicality, the harmonies. With a script, you're focussing on the words – but then on the visuals – how can you create a "world" in which you can tell your story? I love working with designers to create a vision and actors to focus on character and emotional journey!
"Amadeus" Rehearsal Image
Matt Tells HubPages How It’s Done
HubPages: Readers often say they’ve enjoyed a really good play and they ask how it’s done. Every director will have his/her own method. How do you plot and plan to put a show together?
MG: It starts by having an idea, having something you want to say or a visual idea of what you're going to deliver to the audience. There are so many choices. Do we set the play in exactly the same period as it was written, or do we use it in terms of a jumping off point for other thoughts. What is likely to most interest an audience; how can we do it differently – but if we're doing it differently – why, rather than "just for the sake of it". Then it takes a lot of conversations with designers and collaborators to refine those ideas so that you have a really strong vision before casting a show – when, of course, casts come in and you throw all of the ideas up in the air and start again!
HubPages: When you held the auditions were you looking for any particular qualities?
MG: It's always about finding the most truthful actors – the ones who you believe can inhabit the part the best. There's a technical element in terms of instinctively acting "well" – but after that it's about what is the most real – and which actors are likely to work with each other the best in terms of creating a cohesive whole. Casting a show is always like a chess game!
HubPages: What were the hardest challenges for you as director?
MG: On this show it's been working with the cast trying to help them become comfortable with the language and the story-telling; it's an unusual style of piece. Some very real scenes are interspersed with narrative and monologues. It’s about spending the time with the actors to really try and draw everything you can from the text and then making them as comfortable and reassured as possible both in themselves and also in the trust for the rest of the cast and indeed the support of the team.
HubPages: Did you have an “Aha” moment when something that seemed near impossible suddenly fell into place?
MG: Yes! There's so much underscore in the show – which is one of the reasons that I so love the piece because the speeches are written in many cases to be spoken over Mozart's music. Getting the timing of the speeches to work over the underscore (which sounds so natural when you hear it!) is extremely hard and getting the cueing right so that the music starts at exactly the right point so that the actor and the underscore really does work together is incredible when it goes right. We're now nailing it so we can get it right every time!
Did they Get it Right Every time? Yes, they Did
They certainly have nailed it. It was right every time. Exciting, intriguing, a snappy production with never a dull moment. Brilliant!
More About Sedos
Much of the talent we’ve seen on stage this week has been nurtured by activities such as the company’s dance class Sedance, their improv group Simprov, and workshop productions including Play in a Day and Musical in a Weekend.
The company has recently received two NODA (National Operatic and Dramatic Association) awards, namely The Pat Redhead Award for Best Drama for “When the Rain Stops Falling” and the June King Memorial Trophy for Programme Design (Basic Class) for “The Musical of Musicals (The Musical)”.
Plans for 2023
The company has an exciting and challenging programme planned for 2023:
- “The Effect” – 21st-25th March 2023
- “Sunshine on Leith” – 10th-20th May 2023
- “Sondheim on Sondheim” – 4th-8th July 2023
- “The Lights O’ London” – 26th-30th September 2023
- “Titanic” - 22nd November – 2nd December 2023
For more information check out the Sedos website.
Getting to the Bridewell Theatre
© 2022 Frances Spiegel