Would you like to join us?
Read the notes below carefully, and if you'd be interested to find out more and to audition, click here for contact details.
Casting: Ideally 6 M / 6 F
This is a rather unusually moveable feast, as the show will be created around the performers we have! The above is the ideal size cast, but it could equally be done with as few as eight performers or as many as sixteen. Less than eight people would be very hard work for the performers, and more than sixteen would be very unwieldy.
Before you ask: no, we won't be having a 'chairman' (as seen on The Good Old Days). This was the style used in a much earlier era (the 'song and supper' entertainments as far back as the 1830s) and had disappeared by the 'Golden Age' that we're working with here. However, we will be looking to cast a young male (18-30) to perform and provide occasional link or observation [he will represent Selwyn's grandfather, who actually performed on the halls].
Our characters will be those of real performers from the era mentioned above. Which ones we use, and which items we use, depends on you.
"But I can't sing!"
OK. Stop panicking. Let's put it another way. There's room for all combinations of vocal ability - as long as we get a couple of each:
- Powerful, tuneful, confident singers (can deliver a good ballad)
- Folks who can use music with confidence without being 'singers' (think Victoria Wood, Noel Coward, Dame Judi) - this is probably the most important category and one that too many people forget about
- Folks who can't sing at all (or don't think they can) but who can deliver a monologue with masses of character
Please click on this link to a YouTube playlist for ideas. You'll find some wonderful 'real' singers on there, along with some who speak the verses and sing the choruses, characterisations that make you forget the notes, and some who never sing a thing.
Important note: Obviously visual recordings found on the above link will almost always be later than the period we're looking at here, but rest assured that all songs on this list are appropriate to our remit; and while you'll see performers here in the 1930s or later, they'll have been performing in the Golden Age, so we can legitimately use them. This set of recordings will give you a good idea of the styles of performance we'll need.
Finally, there's also the possibility of speciality acts, which also have a unique place in the era, if we have anybody who can provide them at a sufficiently skilful level. The paragraph below (taken from the V&A Museum website) explains the sort of thing:
At the height of music hall there were so many inventive and weird acts that it is very hard to classify them. They included ventriloquists, aerial acts, one-legged dancers, adagio acts, jugglers, magicians, cyclists, sword swallowers, acts involving electricity, animal acts, slapstick sketches and illusionists. Many of the acts which we would today associate with circus were originally performed in the music halls.
The number of performers we recruit will dictate how often you appear on stage; each person is likely to have at least two numbers.
Auditions: Monday 28th October 2013
Workshop style audition – we need to see how you play the audience! It should consist of a performance that gives us an idea of your ability to play one of these music hall characters.
Remember: the performers that we wish to feature need have been active 'on the halls' between about 1880 and the start of World War One. This means that many of the later 'variety' artistes won't be appropriate (for example, Max Miller). However, there were dozens, if not hundreds, of performers in this era to choose from. Likewise, you can of course audition using one character (e.g. Marie Lloyd) but you may later find yourself playing somebody else that you've never heard of!
Not only that, but there's nothing to stop you using a song for your audition that is 'out of period' for the final show. The works of Flanders & Swann, for example, use a very music-hall style, although they were at least forty years after our remit here. It just means that we'd be finding you something quite different to do in the show if you are cast.
Should you source a particular song that you'd like to use, but don’t have a copy, please contact us. We have a ridiculously large library of such things that we've collected over the years. It's important that you have the music for our pianist to play from at the audition.
If you are able to dance, or have any other kind of speciality act that is appropriate to the era, we would be delighted for you to demonstrate that.
NB: we will be using, throughout this process, a keyboard that has a magic transposing key! - so if you find a song (as is often the case) that suits you but is in totally the wrong place in your voice, don't worry too much...
- In early November, we'll have an initial meet-up (ideally one group but split down if necessary), soon after the auditions, to discuss ideas and try things out.
- Cassie & Selwyn will then go away and grow the show around the cast during November and December, and will let you know what you’ll be doing as early as possible in December.
- The main rehearsals will begin during the week of 12 January 2014, and will be mostly on Sunday afternoons and Thursday evenings. Rehearsals will usually be held in groups of 3 or 4 performers.
- You'll be needed for around 6 rehearsals (average 1 per week) from mid January to end February.
- Finally, we'll be holding the usual dress rehearsals etc. during the week of the show, so assume that you will be needed every evening from 2nd March until the end of the run on Saturday 8th March.
Where possible, until mid February, we will rehearse at The Rectory in Weston Longville (our home, 10 miles NW of Norwich) as small numbers won’t need much space and it will save Barn funds. If performers are based too far away for this to be practical (e.g. on the other side of Norwich), we’ll source other venues for those occasions.
The latter rehearsals after that time will be in a larger venue in the Norwich area, such as one of the church or community halls often used by the Barn for this purpose.
We'll be in the Barn from 2nd March (after the previous show has 'come down').