Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Such A Dazzling Show Of Many Colours!

Wow.

That really is the only word for it: wow. Three performances, four standing ovations - we couldn't be happier!

What a blast we had with Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat - to our cast, crew, band and audiences, we would like to say a huge thank-you on behalf of St. Peter's Church and The Wight Strollers.

The feedback has been overwhelming. It's flooded in and it's been absolutely spectacular, so we thought we'd share just a few of the comments with you, our wonderful blog readers.

The show was reviewed in the July 15th edition of the Isle of Wight County Press, and it was a glowing review of the show! Sadly it's not available online, but there were three other reviews written that are online for you to check out: one from Sardines Magazine, one from Mitch Hamer and another from Fern Alexander.

Meanwhile, our audiences took to social media to express how much they loved the show. Here are just a fraction of their many wonderful comments:

"What a way to spend a Saturday night, absolutely amazing from start to finish. Incredible costumes and scenery and so much talent. Well done everyone. Can't wait to see the next production."
- Lynda Waddams

"You were all brilliant...I much preferred your show to the West End one I saw some years ago. So proud of you all!"
- Scott Goddard

"Congratulations on an incredible show! Still singing the songs - proud of your amazing vision, Sarah , and the fantastic cast and crew for bringing it to life. I am a convert!"
- Jo Shannon

"The best musical I have seen outside of the West End."
- Peter Knowles

"Amazing performance...the effect you had on my autistic son was amazing, we were front row and he was spellbound - I came home emotional and humbled that he thoroughly enjoyed every second, so thank you."
- Michaela White

"What a brilliant show this evening. Amazing performers, every single one of you. Well deserved standing ovation."
- Vikki Roberts

"Had a fantastic time at the show this afternoon- thank you for making it so enjoyable. I know only too well how much hard work, energy and commitment goes into something to make it look that effortless! It was joyous, and that came from the sheer passion and enjoyment every single person on stage clearly felt. Well done. The best 'amateur ' (hate that word) I have ever seen on the Island. Sat there wishing I could have been a part of it! Special mention to my fabulous former students - Nick Weightman, Michael Mullin and Brad Barnley - but massive congrats to all!"
- Liz Segal

"A truly wonderful performance. Costumes, singing, everything was top notch...every single person taking part looked as if they were having the time of their lives.Well done and roll on the next pantomime."
- Sandra Davies

"It was a brilliant show. So professional. Anyone that didn't enjoy it, there must be something wrong with them. Well done everyone! What's next?"
- Jean Tayler

"Wow, oh wow! Think you should rename your latest production 'Sarah and her Technicolor Cast of many Talents!' Absolutely stunning show! What a spectacular production! Huge congratulations to everyone!"
- Stella Rogers

"A triumph for the whole company - Emily [was] by far the best the Narrator I have ever seen...A truly memorable and fabulous afternoon, thank you all so much."
- Howard Wilkie

There are dozens more comments like this and we wish we could share them all, we're so proud of everyone who was involved - what an absolute triumph!

Thank-you so much to everyone who came and supported the show, and watch this space to find out how much we'll be donating to our chosen charities!

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If you enjoyed Joseph, don't miss out on The Wight Strollers' annual pantomime. Our next production will be Jack and the Beanstalk at Medina Theatre, Isle of Wight, on February 18th, 19th and 25th. Tickets will be on sale from the Medina Theatre Box Office in January 2017.

Monday, 4 July 2016

Notes from the Narrator...

Yesterday we had our band call, and last night I was listening to the recordings, over and over again. And then I had to stop and take a moment to breathe. This is really happening.

It's been a long time since I wrote a blog post from my own, personal point of view as a cast member - it hasn't happened since 2015, in fact, when we did Aladdin. 

But today, for this particular show, I'm making an exception.

Joseph has been one of my favourite musicals since I was eight years old and performed it at Brighstone Primary School. Back then, I was a sheaf of corn, a member of Potiphar's household and one of the Narrator's backing singers. I remember it so vividly, right down to the dance moves - in fact, I could probably still perform those routines now!

And I remember watching the Narrator and memorising every single one of their lines, desperately hoping that one day I'd have the chance to play the role.

Who'd have thought that a dream that started when I was eight years old would come to fruition eighteen years later?

I certainly didn't!

But then again, isn't Joseph all about dreams coming true?

So who is the Narrator? What is she? Why does she exist?

The Narrator is a strange part, and a challenging one, largely because she doesn't leave the stage for the duration of the show and there are few numbers in which she doesn't sing - four, to be exact.

She's removed from the story, but at the same time is very much a part of it, interacting with every single character and weaving her way through the plot, acting as a story-teller, instigator, adviser, friend and conscience all in one.

She introduces, she engineers, she antagonises, she influences - in short, she doesn't stop!

It's story-telling with a difference, and I love it. There's something to be said for telling a story through song, and what a privilege it is to be able to tell such a wonderful story as Joseph.

The Narrator's songs aren't the big hits, they're not the iconic numbers of Joseph or the globe-trotting songs of the Brothers...

In fact, with the exception of  'Prologue' and 'Pharaoh Story', she doesn't really have songs at all!

Hers are the little riffs you hum as you leave the theatre; the single lines you can't get out of your head for days on end, the split-second moments you remember even if you can't recall what came before or after!

She's there from the start of Joseph's journey to the end of it...which is really rather apt.

The Joseph journey, for me, began in January 2015, when I began looking into the possibility of performing Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat - now, nineteen months on and less than a week from curtain up, I can hardly believe it's really happening.

Some days, I legitimately have to pinch myself. And if you glance at me during the very first rendition of 'Any Dream Will Do', you will see me welling up every time, without fail.

Because this, to me, is perfect.

How can it not be?

Standing on stage, surrounded by some of the best and funniest and most talented people I know, when those opening chords sound I feel a sense of pride so overwhelming that it catches me off guard at every single rehearsal.

Joseph is, by far and away, the best and most wonderful show I have ever done. It's been a nineteen month rollercoaster from Canaan to Egypt and back, and I - along with the rest of the cast, I'm sure - can't quite get my head around the fact that it's almost over.

All that's left to do now is share the experience with an audience...

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Make sure you're a member of our audience this weekend by booking your tickets! Either phone 01983 823884 between 10am and 2pm or visit the Medina Theatre website to book online at any time!





Saturday, 2 July 2016

He's Just A Dreamer...

The story of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is well-known and much loved among children and adults alike.

Taken from the book of Genesis, the story of Joseph the dreamer and his rise to fame and fortune as the Pharaoh's right-hand man is fast-paced and exciting. Joseph, one of twelve brothers, is the favourite son of Jacob.

Playing everyone's favourite dreamer is Nick Weightman, who joined the company in 2014, playing the title role in our February 2015 pantomime, Aladdin. In our 2016 panto - Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs - he doubled as Merlin of the Mirror and Slurp the Henchman. But this is a different type of role entirely...

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Nick, you've had some brilliant parts in your short time with us, but Joseph must surely take the cake! How did you feel when you were asked to play this iconic role?

Privileged. Honoured. It was such a long time ago now that I was asked, so thinking about it now is actually really weird!

How have the rehearsals been so far?

Incredible - so much fun. All the brothers have gelled so nicely, and everyone has really pulled together as a team. It's been absolutely brilliant.

So come on, you must have a favourite moment in the show. What is it?

My favourite moment...that's tricky, there are so many of them!

Well...I suppose we can let you have a top two - we're feeling generous!

I can have two? Okay...probably putting on my coat for the first time, I do like that bit. And I love shouting at the brothers, when they decide to leave [Egypt] and I get to just shout 'no!' and stop them in their tracks. I love that bit.

Shouting at your brothers? That doesn't sound very brotherly!

They threw me in a pit!

Fair point! They do deserve it, I suppose! I know they throw you in a pit, sell you into slavery and are genuinely rather mean to you, but if you had to choose a favourite brother, who would it be?

Probably Zebulun. He is quite the character - he's a bit of a joker, but in a really good, funny way.

He's certainly got a cracking sense of humour! And a brilliant voice, too! But then again, so have you - your 'Close Every Door' made a few people cry (in a good way!) at the last rehearsal. What's your favourite song in the show?

To sing or overall?

Let's roll with both.

My favourite song in the whole show is 'Potiphar' - I love the Charleston feel of it. But my favourite song to sing is probably the finale version of 'Any Dream Will Do' with all the harmonies and the 'Give me my coloured coat' bit - I love singing that."

Good choices! Speaking of the coat, what was it like seeing that for the first time?

Amazing. It's just incredible.


There are 29 colours in that coat - which one is your favourite?

It genuinely is azure!

I thought you were only saying that to give the kids a hand in the 'Colour Challenge' at our workshops!

No, I really like it! And orange. I like orange.

Nice, bright colours. So, Nick, why should people buy tickets to see Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat?

It's very, very rare to see this show on this scale done on the Island, let alone by an amateur company, and the standard is so high. And, without sounding too big-headed, I'm also really looking forward to people seeing me as the lead in a musical - this is my big break!

That's sweet! And finally, what are you most looking forward to about being in the theatre?

Being able to see the set in its proper place, and seeing how high up that top podium is going to be looking out over the audience - it's going to be insane.

It certainly is - as someone else who runs up to that podium, I can second that! Thanks so much for chatting, Nick - and the very best of luck for the show. You really are the perfect Joseph!



To see the wonderful Nick Weightman in action as Joseph, all you need to do is phone 01983 823884 or visit the Medina Theatre website to book your tickets for July 9th and 10th.

Friday, 1 July 2016

Honest As Coconuts: Banter With Benjamin

Ches Checkley-Hill joined The Wight Strollers in September 2014 as part of the cast for our February 2015 production of Aladdin. He has since gone from strength to strength in our chorus and has this year taken his first principal role, as Benjamin in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

We thought we'd have a catch-up with the lovely Ches to see how he's been finding it! So, Ches, how did it feel to be asked to play Benjamin?

Fantastic! It's genuinely one of the best opportunities of my life.

And this is your first part with the Strollers, isn't it?

It is!

So what was your first show with the company?

Aladdin in 2015 - it was my first pantomime and I got to dress up as a woman, so it was a pretty good first show with the company!

Only since 2015? It feels like you've been with us a lot longer, I have to say! What's your favourite thing about being in The Wight Strollers?

Just everything. I can't pinpoint what's so great about it - just everything. I love it.

That's always nice to hear! And what about Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, what's your favourite thing about that?

Just being on the stage, singing and dancing, and getting to be a part of such an incredible show with such amazing people.

And if you had to choose a favourite song, what would it be?

The Benjamin Calypso! Obviously!

Obviously! Alright then, off the back of that, who's your favourite brother?

Judah. Definitely. Mostly because he begs for my life - that's quite a good way of becoming someone's favourite brother!



It most certainly is - we won't spoil the story by letting everyone know if he succeeds! Of course, Judah's just one of Benjamin's eleven brothers - what's it been like being one of twelve siblings?

It's just like one big family, to be honest. We might as well be brothers, we get along really well. It's great - they're all fantastic and it's wonderful to see it all coming together with everyone now.

You also stepped in a few weeks ago to double up as the Butler, didn't you? How are you finding that?

I like it! It's definitely typecast, because he's a bit of a camp character, so you know, I'm loving it - it's definitely been fun to double up.

We're less than a week from showtime now, so what are you most looking forward to about getting into the theatre?

There's so many things! Wearing all the costumes, putting on all the make-up, getting into character for an audience - doing all of that is fantastic.

It certainly gets the adrenaline pumping! Why do you think people should buy a ticket to see the show?

Because it's an amazing show! It's so fantastic; from the sets to the dancing to the acting to the costumes and everything, it's all fantastic. Everyone needs to see it.

And, to finish, a question we'll be asking all interviewed cast members: what's your favourite colour?

Pink.

That's a favourite colour you share with your favourite brother, I think! Thanks so much for chatting, Ches - and the very best of luck in your first principal role with The Wight Strollers. I think I speak for everyone when I say you're going to absolutely smash it!

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To see Ches in action as Benjamin, book your tickets for Joseph at Medina Theatre on July 9th and 10th 2016 by visiting www.medinatheatre.co.uk or by phoning 01983 823884.

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Wonderful Workshops!

Over the last six weeks, Team Joseph have created a sub-team: Team Workshop. This particular team of people, led by yours truly, have been visiting schools and community groups around the Island delivering free workshops to children to help them gain confidence, try out singing and dancing and have some fun with the story of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

And the feedback has been wonderful.

The workshops contained a mixture of games, vocal warm-up exercises, singing and dancing, with each group learning two songs from the show: Any Dream Will Do and Benjamin Calypso. 

Each group also took home our 'Design A Dreamcoat' worksheet, and all those returned by the deadline will be displayed at Medina Theatre during the run.

We thought it would be nice to share just some of the feedback with you, and give Team Workshop some recognition for all their hard work.

"It was wonderful of the cast members to give us a day of [their] time and provide the children with such a great experience...the children loved it and they all thought you guys were great."
- Carisbrooke C of E Primary School

"It was great to have you all in...it's really humbling to know there are folks out there prepared to give up their time for children and to share their talent and passion for the arts with them."
- Haylands Primary School

"Thank-you Team Joseph for a brilliant workshop...the children were really inspired. Your 'Fat Camel' galloping game has caught on with Year 6!"
- Brighstone C of E Primary School


Thank-you so much to each and every member of Team Workshop for all their help, and to all the schools and community groups we visited for being so warm and welcoming, and to all the children who participated - what a credit all of them were to themselves, their parents, their schools and groups.

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To see Team Workshop (and their dozens of fellow cast members!) in action, all you need to do is phone 01983 823884 or visit the Medina Theatre website to book your tickets  - we'll see you in July!

Monday, 27 June 2016

Closing In On Showtime...

Well now, what a couple of weeks we've had! As many of you, our wonderful supporters, will by now know, online booking at Medina Theatre has been unavailable for the last two weeks, due to a technical hitch beyond the theatre's control.

We are, however, pleased to report that the online booking website is now back up and running, so please do book your tickets!

We'd also like to thank Neil at The Pompey Chimes for his help in promoting the show throughout the diocese, especially whilst online booking was unavailable, and we'd like to give an equally big shout-out to every single person who and gave us support across our various social media platforms. Your support was absolutely invaluable.

Meanwhile, rehearsals have been going swimmingly and cast members are now working with our spectacular set to get used to it ahead of next week's dress rehearsals and performances.

Next week! We can hardly believe it's now so close!

With every single department in overdrive - from costumes to props to publicity - we're pushing harder than ever to reach the sell-out houses our cast deserves.


In a fundraising update, we raised a further £280 towards the cost of putting on Joseph with our quiz night on Sunday 27th June, which was attended by a whopping 89 people.

We recently made an appearance at Shorwell Midsummer Fair earlier this month, too - and not only were we flyering, we also pitted two of Joseph's brothers - Asher and Napthali - against each other on the Gladiator Pole.

There's never a dull moment on Team Joseph, that's for sure!

And, in some very exciting news, we have also chosen our charities and good causes to support with the proceeds from the show.

St Peter's Church will, of course, be receiving some of the proceeds towards getting running water, a kitchen and a toilet installed in the church, and we will also be supporting the Joe Ellis Trust, as well as putting some money towards a Public Access Defibrillator in the Shorwell area.

Now all that's left to do is sell the remaining tickets and introduce you to some more of our wonderful cast before curtain up!

There's loads to look forward to on the blog before showtime: you'll meet Joseph, Benjamin and the Narrator, among others, as well as hearing from some of the production team.

You'll also find out more about the workshops we've been offering to schools and community groups over the last six weeks; and you'll be getting some more sneak peeks of our set and costumes.



Don't leave it to chance - make sure you've got your tickets for Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at Medina Theatre on July 9th and 10th, either by booking online or by phoning 01983 823884 - it's going to be phenomenal!

Monday, 20 June 2016

Stop. Rewind. Play. Repeat.

"The film's not finished, it's just paused!"

Last week, I heard a child shout these seven words to his friend as they wandered past me during the interval of Mary Poppins at The Mayflower Theatre in Southampton...and they broke my heart.

When did technology become so ingrained in our lives that the next generation can't recognise the difference between actors on a stage and people on a cinema screen?

I suppose, in a way, it was a compliment to the show, which was practically perfect in every way; slick and polished, Mary Poppins was the highest class of entertainment. But alongside all the magic I carried away with me, I also carried that little boy's words, stuck in my head long after the final chord.

Since last week, I've had time to muse on it and, not for the first time, have come to the conclusion, that there is one way and one way only to ensure that live theatre is preserved in all its glory.

And that's by supporting it, and by encouraging your friends, your family, your children to support it, too.

You can't pause a live show, you can't rewind the bits you've missed, you can't screenshot it or find it on iPlayer - it's happening, right there in front of you. Characters are coming to life, a story is being told, and every single person doing the telling is doing it as you watch.

Anything could happen...and isn't that a thrill?

No two performances are the same, each audience will see an equally impressive but slightly different show. Each audience member will come away with a different experience, according to what caught their eye.

One may spot Joseph sat on the steps trying to decipher his dreams whilst the Brothers are scheming, another might see the shock of the Chorus as Benjamin is accused of theft, a third might see Joseph and the Narrator dancing together in the background of another number, a fourth could hear an instrumental riff from a different musical creeping into the score...

Hundreds of people watching the same show can see hundreds of tiny details, nuances and moves. Each person will have their own favourite song, favourite character, favourite moment; each of those moments has been delivered by a real person, in real time.

And only those hundreds in the audience will have shared in the experience. It can't be replayed, it can't be replicated. What an exclusive club to join, to be one of only a fraction of the population to have witnessed the magic of a particular show, with a particular cast in a particular place.

Don't underestimate the sticking power of such memories.

For a family of four to see Finding Dory in 3D would cost just 60p less than it would for the same family to see our production of Joseph at Medina Theatre this July (also in 3D, I hasten to add!) with a live band, a live cast of 57 and no DVD option for later!

It's a no-brainer.

We'll see you at the theatre!

-

Please Note: Medina Theatre's online booking system is currently unavailable. To book your tickets in the meantime, please phone 01983 823884 or visit Medina Theatre Box Office in person - if the box office is unmanned, pop downstairs and buy your tickets from the Medina Leisure Centre reception.