Rehearsals for The Abbey's 'Beauty and the Beast' production were off to a flying start this week, making a welcome alternative to revising for mocks! In the next few weeks the girls shall progress on from the Lecture Theatre and begin to rehearse onstage in our atmospheric Richards Hall. Watch this space as the girls go on to tackle the acoustic and spatial challenges of their new venue.
Set construction is already underway in our Art Department, with the first screen now on wheels and ready for painting! We look forward to the coming creations as the artistic process begins in earnest, with all members of staff ready to chip in during their free moments in the following weeks.
With exams out the way, Tuesday's rehearsal saw a palpable increase in energy as the early scenes of the musical began to come together. Using the more focused space of the Drama studio, the cast got to grips with the famous 'Belle' opening tune and were allocated their various villager roles. A highlight of the evening was perhaps when our Head of Drama, Mr Martin, was required to sub in for our heroine while costume fittings took place - something of a 'lifelong dream' he later professed.
With over 90 unique costumes to be made from scratch - including a re-imagining of Belle's iconic ball gown - our Textiles department are fully inspired and beginning the early stages of costume design. Below you can see a sneak peek of Gaston, Mrs Potts, and two varieties of ensemble costume experimenting with different periods of dress. When asking the team how they plan to manage such a mammoth task, their response was short and sweet: "Netflix and coffee."
Finally rehearsing in the spacious Richards Hall, the girls had a chance to nail down some complicated choreography from the early scenes of the play whilst stretching their vocal chords. With half-term fast approaching, the cast were warned that as of tomorrow, scripts will be sparse! Next rehearsal, the girls will have their first shot at a full run through of Act I on stage.
With stage lights up and scripts down, the girls had an excellent last rehearsal this evening before breaking up for half-term. Our Head of Music, Mr Willis, was certainly pleased by the increase in confidence and projection from the girls - particularly when there were no words to look down at. The cast were also reassured by the fact that everyone managed to stay on the newly installed walkway during the busier scenes! Though there is much to do once the girls are back in a week, the production and many of its much loved musical numbers are coming together beautifully.
It’s a week after half-term now, and the cast are powering through rehearsals with the focus moving on to ever anticipated Act 2. Our choreographer, Mrs Burns, has been working with the girls this afternoon to perfect their ballroom Waltz amongst other complicated routines. Next rehearsal, the girls will pair their newly acquired moves with some well-rehearsed singing – though it is not as easy as it looks!
A great deal of progress has been made since our last glimpse of the costume sketches two months ago, and fittings for final corrections are in full flow throughout today. Even incomplete, it’s easy to spot a variety of dynamic and intricate designs, with the token rose appliqué appearing throughout.
With the end of a very busy week in sight for our cast and staff, tonight’s rehearsal saw everything learnt in the past month come together for a full cast run through of Act 2. From fine tuning harmonies to perfecting the Can-Can, the girls powered through the various scenes of the final act - putting them in good stead for dress rehearsals taking place in a mere few weeks. The girls ended the rehearsal on a rendition of the climatic 'Mob' march, with some very convincing stage slaps being thrown into the mix. With the chant of 'kill the Beast!" being audible from down the hall, any worries around the audience being able to hear at the back were most likely silenced.
Our cast photos have been successfully shot and edited for the programme today, pressing on us the fact that the first performance is just two weeks away! We felt it necessary to share this out-take of two of our lead girls, Frankie and Emma, looking the part in this close up shot.
With just a week to go till opening night, technical rehearsals are in full flow this afternoon and the pace is picking up. It was particularly exciting for our principles to have a chance to get mic’d up with help from our stage managers and adjust their performance accordingly with advice from our directors. Though a little unnerving at first, the girls found their way with confidence for a successful run-through of the whole production. It’s no surprise that tickets for all three days are nearly sold out! With our dress rehearsal taking place on Wednesday, we will check in with all the behind-the-scenes players one last time to see how preparations are coming along for the big night.
It’s been a busy weekend of technical rehearsals, with Mr Martin, Mr Henderson and Mr Graham working their magic and plotting the light sequences for the show. We even got a sneak peak of the famous rose! Even on an empty stage, it certainly is looking thoroughly magical.
It’s been a gruelling day of working dress rehearsals for our cast and crew, with every aspect of the production being replayed and ironed out before Thursday night’s performance. With the Orchestra ready, lights up, staging complete and costumes on, it was fantastic to see everything come together after months of hard work. Today serves up a well-deserved rest before a final dress rehearsal tomorrow, where the girls will be performing to our LIII girls alongside children from Dolphin and Caversham Primary School. A tale as old as time will be retold very soon!
For all the behind the scenes photos, please click here. We hope you enjoyed the show!