By Heidi Trautmann
What is so fascinating about first rehearsals? It is all so fresh. In the beginning, there is only the script, distributed to the cast; the leads have been chosen, the problems in the main speeches have been resolved, and now the first tentative steps are being executed on stage. Head, feet, hands and voice are still uncoordinated, the characters are still not visible; the stage is still alien to many of the performers, they do not yet feel at home there. But that will come with the stage choreography and when their lines are properly learned. These are exciting moments for everyone. Those who have to recite the playwright’s lines come up with new ideas in order to convey their message more convincingly. Thus, a play starts to grow and develop and all comes to fit like a puzzle.
Francine Ash brought ChorusLambousa to life and I remember well a moment at the beginning of the process in 2007, when she said longingly, “One day I am going to do a musical.” Now here she is. NO; here they are – because for this production she has Mark Lake at her side who has given her the encouragement to go ahead and do it.
Mark Lake directed The Wizard of Oz two years ago which included teaching English to 31 Turkish Cypriot children particularly for the show at the Anafartalar school in Girne, for both the school and the North Cyprus Cancer Charity Trust.
Mark Lake has lived in Cyprus for seven years, four of them in the southern part. He
has a great passion for stage shows, the musical being his favourite format, but he has worked in every area of amateur theatre. He started over 30 years ago as a stage hand, from painting and building scenery to lighting, and then he went into performing, acting, dancing and singing. While he was living in the UK, he assisted professional directors and then progressed to directing award winning musicals, such as Hello Dolly, Guys and Dolls, Anything Goes, Carousel, The Sound of Music and Barry Manilow’s Copacabana.
Mark had the original idea for the new musical play, Only a Rose. Francine wrote the first draft, and then it was revised by the two of them. And, as I said before, the cast also made some suggestions, not only concerning text but also the stage choreography, which is designed and directed by the very able Karen Aldridge.
There are 35 in the cast. The leads are:
Old Rosalind Val Wilce
Old Maurice Grahame Ash
Judy Anita Woods
Young Rosalind Linda Burton
Young Maurice Anthony McCartney.
I sat in the background amongst the cast aside props and chairs, between concentrating and mumbling members of the cast who were learning their lines or melodies. There was a constant coming and going; scenes were being rehearsed while others tried out their dancing steps. When a scene had gone well, the team who had been watching it applauded. Even as an uninvolved person, it gave me the goose pimples when a scene was well done.
Having overcome their first shyness, the dryness in the throat and the racing heartbeats, I felt the people on stage loosening up. Once or twice, Mark Lake jumped up on to the stage and showed the girls how to throw their hips when walking off, or else he demonstrated passionate body language….
The story revolves around a former Broadway star, and her love for a man who was also involved in the theatre. While she watches her life relived by her young self, she remembers the good and bad times, of success and of grief The ethic of ‘the show must go on’ dominates her life. She remembers her old colleagues, friends and enemies, and she remembers the many shows she has done, and the melodies float through her mind.
There is laughter in the house and a very special team spirit – it seems to say: we don’t want to miss all this, the work, the stress, the critics…and I can feel it.
I leave them to it, they have no time for me, and the melodies follow me to my car.