Actor's Diary: Richard Dalrymple on Jocks, Cockney Texans, and Flying Without a Safety Net
From ensemble member to featured actor, singer and challenge-seeker Richard Dalrymple has gone from testing his dance potential in Flashdance to honing his acting skills in The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. But with that first GMT appearance already under his belt, can the easy-going Whorehouse atmosphere provide thrills for this hard-working performer? Well, he’s been asked to take his top off...
Let’s launch right into it. In my humble opinion, musical theatre is the best possible way to blow off some steam. There isn't a better show to do that with than The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, the tale of women working in a whorehouse which is then threatened with closure due to a meddling TV evangelist. Musical theatre has been a favourite pastime of mine since school, so when I moved to Glasgow from the Orkney Islands last year, I jumped at the opportunity to keep that up. It’s a fantastic way to explore the culture of a city, and meet a bunch of interesting, talented people. It provides balance to the stresses of work and studies, and is a great creative outlet. I'd advise anyone who’s considering it to go for it, even if it’s just to feed your compulsive need to perform.
In my first named role with GMT, I play the citified, condescending newspaper editor of Gilbert, the whorehouse’s hometown. Educated outside Gilbert, Edsel has a reputation for being a smart mouth who doesn't take things seriously, and he is met with disdain by many of the town's more hard-headed citizens. Aside from rumoured Communist affiliations, he is on the straight and narrow, trying to help the people of Gilbert where he can, as long as he doesn't have to go very far out of his way. It's been brilliant having a speaking character to work on for the first time in a while, and it's undoubtedly added a certain something to my overall enjoyment of rehearsals.
Richard dancing with the girls of Flashdance
The cast for this show is reasonably minimal, unlike most of the shows I have taken part in. The format of other companies can mean they have any number of performers on stage, but GMT shows are cast to fit their perfect cast size, and this usually means cast numbers in the 20s. It’s a very different experience, because the tighter cast can mean more focus on individual performers, and a close team feeling. The bonus with this show is that many of the parts are traditionally double-cast, and we’ve stuck with that, so each cast member has the joy of bit part after bit part, along with all the frantic costume changing that entails. My personal favourite part, after Edsel, is playing a member of the boisterous, loutish local American Football team, the Aggies. The Aggie Song is a chance to parody that macho, laddish, jock type of guy, which I’ll bet none of our male cast have ever been. It could have been really uncomfortable the first time we rehearsed it, and everyone looked a little sheepish before we began, but with the challenge in front of us, everyone broke through and took it straight to 11. The request to do it topless might not have been met with the same level of confidence from everyone, but you can bet I’ll try it. Either way, the Aggie Song has to be one of my favourite group numbers ever--it’s one of the reasons I was so keen to audition--and it’s going to be unmissable, for anyone who wants to see if GMT can really provide a sporty lad or five. With their tops off. Maybe.
In the past few weeks, things have really been coming together, and I'm so proud to be a part of it. Sunday saw our first run of Act I, which was also off-book with a strict ‘no scripts’ rule in place, leaving us flying completely on our own steam. It was great to see everything running together, in a surprisingly seamless way with so few dropped lines. Quite a few of our rehearsals so far have been either all-male or all-female, so the run was my first chance to see a good bit of the work going on in the studio when the boys aren’t there. It wasn’t easy--the cast was put through their paces--but it was a joy to see the standard we’re already working towards. I can’t wait for people to finally see this show.
Richard and his fellow Aggies
That standard has continued now we’ve started work on Act II. Well, it did. Eventually. April Fool’s Day left our poor director, Alasdair, confused as to why the entire cast’s Texan accents suddenly slid into cockney, but it didn’t last long--he’s too smart for us--and the cast quickly threw themselves back into Wednesday’s rehearsal. Within those three hours, we had blocked one of the final scenes of the show, learned a major Act II number, and still had time for a joke or two. It did hit home then, though: we have very little time left. In just over a month we will be performing The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas in all its whomping, stomping glory, to the alternating enjoyment and… eh… enjoyment of the audience.
I can’t wait, and I hope to see you all there. And your friends. And your family. Honestly, I probably won’t rest ‘til everyone in Glasgow knows the Aggie Song.
The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas runs from 5th-9th May 2015 at Websters Theatre, Glasgow. Show information can be found here, or buy your tickets now here.