One day of ADC rehearsal: chess | So Good News
For someone who has never entered a theater scene after being traumatized by a 7th grade production of Bugsy Malone, I never thought I would be so surprised and inspired to get back into it.
After spending a day with the cast and crew of the upcoming ADC Mainshow musical Chess, my love for musical theater and all it has to offer has never been stronger.
10:30 — Dance rehearsal begins
Walking through the ballet production with a trio of dancers to the rehearsal space, I first chatted with Louis York, the production’s producer, about his love for the show. “I’m a big ABBA fan and Tim Rice’s music, and the concept of chess is off the wall.”
First staged in the West End in 1986, Chess tells the story of an American-Soviet chess tournament during the Cold War.
Both characters fight for the championship and the woman who manages one’s career and falls in love with the other. Louis added, “there are some important themes at play, it’s a period piece set in the ’80s and it has all the mysteries.”
He explained his love for the show’s balance, which despite being such a large piece, contained depth within its pages. “In terms of its characters, it’s actually a very compassionate show, it’s a show that gives people who have done bad things a chance to explain themselves.” The performance seems to have everything the producer wanted: dancers, a full chorus and a large musical ensemble.
Louis explained that the original performance “lasted about 90 seconds during silent chess, which is an interesting choice, but it sounds very boring, so this ballet … is a metaphorical representation of the game of chess, the emotions of chess.” “
As a work written almost 40 years ago, society’s perspective has changed dramatically around such a political play. “From a historical perspective, it’s very interesting to see what the views on race, gender, and class were at the time as a source.[…]It’s a guess not just about the characters, but about the music and the production, and how they treat female characters in particular.”
Lui described the purpose of this work as not hiding the original thoughts of the writers: “It is not cut, it is not interpreted, it does not hide the positions of the original writers, and at the same time we said that there is no. definitely support them. Just because you’re echoing someone else’s post doesn’t make you stand up for them… it’s not something we don’t know or can hide, but it’s not something we can ignore or try to push under the rug.
11:00 a.m. – Double room reservation?
Before the dancers finished practicing their second part, a group of unexpected guests arrived at the same venue ready for a yoga class.
After several calls, the situation was resolved and the dance was able to resume. Louie leaned down and said, “You’ll be in the same situation. I think I looked at about 11 colleges.” On Sunday it seemed as if there was no need to consider so much space for a single rehearsal; but it made more sense for the production, which was close to the city and required a large open space where the piano was played.
“The manager, the organizer, I’m their boss and secretary,” described Louis. Scheduling each component becomes a daunting task, and Louis makes sure everyone is on the same page. However, the collaboration of the team seemed to make it a lot easier, and as Louis said, “it’s too big to fail.”
12:00 – Dance rehearsal ends
During my lunch break, I was able to chat with choreographer Gina Stock and assistant choreographer Hannah Filer.
“It’s amazing, that’s how I felt when I first heard the soundtrack,” Gina explained, “how many different styles there are, how each song sounds like it’s from a different show.” That’s where the excitement comes from, when you’re doing something different every rehearsal. It can be very difficult, but I feel we are handling it well.”
The show features incredible dance styles such as ballet, commercial, Russian folk and even disco. Both choreographers explained how their collective experiences worked well together. “In a show that requires a lot of styles, it works really well,” added Hannah.
Balancing the combination of choreography, teaching and performing takes a lot of time, especially since Gina plays in the main ensemble alongside the cast. The two agreed that they wanted to keep busy: “I knew it was the first thing I wanted to take time off,” Hannah said, “I think rehearsal times are really helpful for me to think about something else. There’s so much going on, with the manager or whatever. I don’t have time to worry about the meeting. I find it very helpful.”
Starting with a blank page, no script, no notes, can be overwhelming.
“You’re teaching something you have to invent … it’s all out of your head.” However, this challenge seemed to make the final product all the more satisfying.
Gina explained, “You picture it in your head. Let’s say you’re choreographing for more than one person; You don’t see this until you have a physical number of people in front of you. When those things come together, it’s amazing.” Hannah added the incredible feeling that comes when someone who doesn’t dance, you finish something and I really like it.
12:30 – Actors arrive and draw heads
The cast arrived for rehearsals and took some stunning pictures that appeared on social media in Cambridge to promote the production.
12:45 – Warm-up and rehearsal begin
As the rehearsal for the song “Press Conference” continued in the background, I spoke with the show’s assistant director, Mia Grant.
“I love the team and the music. It brings a real energy to going into rehearsals,” he said. As the ensemble rehearsed the fast-paced lines of Mia’s song, Mia described how fantastic it was going: “There are so many little sections, but when you see it coming together… you really start to build it, it all falls apart. to a place that is very interesting to watch.”
Speaking more about his role in the production, it seems that the teamwork of the crew was the main secret of success. Not only the behind-the-scenes team, but also the actors worked tirelessly. To showcase their performances, the staging would be very minimalistic. “We have a small space and a talented cast; we want everyone to emphasize them, not the other way around.”
13:30 – The director comes to the rehearsal
As the pieces of rehearsal began to come together and become a full song, Haley Canham showed up to see the progress. Haley explained her focus on production: “There are a lot of moving parts. It’s a really challenging show, so a lot of the rehearsal process was drilling that music and making sure it was the star of the show.
When I spoke with Hayley, I wanted to know why directing compared to the many roles she has on and off the stage.
“I’ve been acting most of my life,” he replied, “as a child I had ideas about what I should do and where I should stand.” So it felt like a natural progression to do that as a director. I understand how actors feel, what they think, how they approach their work. I will use this understanding to think about how I can best accept you, how I can help you interpret the character as you want.”
Elaborating on the characters and the cast behind them, Haley singled out the cast: “Our cast is amazing… our principles are not only a dream come true, but as you can see, our ensemble is just fantastic and I couldn’t do it.” Don’t ask them again.”
Applying this to the stage, Haley explained, “Sometimes I feel like there’s a desire that there’s always something going on, that the stage is full, that the audience gets bored, that fear makes you do too much.” Instead, he knew the importance of letting someone be still sometimes.
14:00 – Full song
It was amazing to watch the production move like pieces on a machine. Haley directed the movements of the leaders through an ensemble full of rhythmic music. The team’s creativity and collaboration overflowed.
Ending the day
I was able to get some of the crew’s favorite pieces to complete the rehearsal. Louis immediately chose Evita before explaining his love for Mamma Mia 2: Here We Go Again. The first choice to direct Mia’s dream production went to Heather Falsettos. Ultimately, Hannah’s love for choreography was as natural as walking in the first 14 minutes of West Side Story.
Chess will be held at the ADC stage from this Tuesday, November 1st through Saturday, November 5th
Photo credit: Paul Ashley
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