Behind the Scenes of Drowsy: Musings of a Musical Director
The musical quality of a show both vocally and via the band is critical to it's success. In the second of our behind the scenes blogs we meet much loved musical director of The Drowsy Chaperone Barrie McKillop and hear about the music of Drowsy as well as a few of his other favourites.
StartFragmentYou are a well known and loved MD of Glasgow Music Theatre: This is actually my fifth GMT show as MD! It all started with The Threepenny Opera, and since then I've done A Chorus Line, Flashdance and Sunshine on Leith. Kurt Weill via The Proclaimers to Marvin Hamlisch! Quite a variety really!
Wow, and above that you are one of the recognisable GMT band members too. How many productions have you been in the band for? I've counted up and this will be my 14th GMT show!
How did you end up with the role of MD for The Drowsy Chaperone? Actually, the fact we're doing "Drowsy" at all may be partly down to me! I'd already been booked to MD the 2018 Spring Show, and was lucky enough to be asked for suggestions for something that would suit GMT and translate well to a smaller-scale venue. The rest is history as they say!
What do you find the most challenging parts of the production process? The most challenging part for me is without a doubt the audition process. That might seen strange from someone sitting at the other side of the table, but it's so important to put together a cast who not only can sing, dance and act the parts brilliantly, but who will gel with each other as a company. GMT holds open auditions for each show, so you never know who might walk though the door. Often you'll be seeing some familiar faces who you've worked with many times and whose talents are well known to you, alongside brand new people who can sometimes blow you away with what they do. We have been so lucky to get such a perfect blend of the two for "Drowsy".
And is there a most rewarding part? The rewarding parts are varied and many. It can be teaching a really tricky ensemble number and hearing it all come together for the first time, and the sense of achievement everyone in the room shares at that moment. It can be the first run of a song you've been working on with one of the principals in front of the rest of the cast and seeing their reactions to it. And, without a doubt, show week itself.
You are a self confessed Drowsy superfan. Tell us some of your personal highlights of the show: You've noticed then! I first met "Drowsy" when I was lucky enough to be in New York just after the original production opened. I knew nothing about the show but decided to go mainly to see Sutton Foster on stage! I adored it from the word go, so much so that we went straight back to the box office after the show and bought tickets to go back the following evening. There's so much to love in it. Firstly, it's completely original, which is actually very rare for a musical. The script is smart, funny, nostalgic and touching. The music pays tribute to so many familiar songs we all know from some of the great Broadway shows, while absolutely standing on its own merits as a classic score of the modern era. Finally, the character of Man in Chair is a work of genius; I think everyone can relate to him.
What is your all time favourite musical and composer: That's such a difficult question! Rather like Man in Chair, I love "golden age" musicals, or at least shows that pay tribute to them. There's something about the magic of George Gershwin's music that gets as close to perfection as I think you can get in a showtune. So of course I love "Crazy for You"! Also like Man in Chair, I am very fond of a few really obscure shows that no-one has ever heard of. But to be honest, "Drowsy" is probably up there with my all-time favourites. I'm very lucky!
Finally, can you give your top 3 reasons people should rush out and buy their tickets for Drowsy today:
1. "The Drowsy Chaperone" is a virtually unknown gem of a show which is rarely performed. Who knows when you'll get a chance to see it in Glasgow again?
2. We have a perfect cast and a passionate production team. We've all fallen in love with the show and can't wait to introduce you to it!
3. It's a great evening out. It has everything. Even reluctant friends and family who think they don't like musicals will love "Drowsy"; after all, the very first words spoken by Man in Chair are "I hate theatre!"
The Drowsy Chaperone will be held at the Brian Cox Studio @ The Scottish Youth Theatre from 8th to 12th May with performances at 8pm (additional Saturday Matinee at 3pm). Tickets are available throught the Glasgow Music Theatre Box Office, via cast members or through firstname.lastname@example.org