Tash’s Threepenny Blog #9

‘So Long Ago and oh so Far Away…’ (Pimp’s Tango)

So our third and final week in Birmingham (sad face) crept up on us rather quickly which left the ‘Threepenny’ gang with plenty to cram in before we left.  It’s astonishing how rapidly the time passed as we whizzed through the last seven shows of our penultimate venue.  It also seemed as though the weather was on our side which enabled us to enjoy a few cups of coffee (!) by the canal whilst enjoying the beautiful sunshine.

The entire company were treated to a lovely tea and cake afternoon on Friday hosted by Stuart and Roxana from the Rep which was delightful. We were also presented with the completed sketches of the show from artist Tom Jones who I mentioned in last week’s blog and they were fantastic!

This week was particularly social beginning on Tuesday with a lovely and civilized ‘cheese and wine’ evening hosted by Pickles (Matt).  This ‘cheese and wine’ soiree was like no other in the sense that it also incorporated a cheeky bit of rapping where Moby (CSM) and Ben (Jake) particularly excelled. TJ (Smith),  Max (Filch) and Stacey (Nellie) tried their hand at a bit of ‘avant garde’ wall climbing and Pickles banged out a fabulous musical playlist…Max was so exhausted by the end of it all that he needed a little lie down!

Ben is showcasing his break-dancing skills to the other cast members. He is standing on his head and spinning round

A bit of break dancing from Ben

Thursday evening saw the company congregating yet again for a belated birthday boogie for Stacey…dance hall of choice…REFLEX!!!  The perfect recipe for a brilliant night: a barrage of 80’s tunes, a revolving dance floor and an abundance of helium balloons…priceless!  So come Friday morning (at 10.15am!) at the Rep where a performance of Refugee Boy was occurring in the studio, it was the ‘hard core’ of the group that peeled themselves out of bed and into the theatre! Hats off to you!

Lastly, following our final performance in Birmingham, a bunch of us, joined by former Graeae CSM Roshni, piled into the Yardbird for a sneaky bit of jazz.

Four people smile up into the camera on a night out in a dimly lit bar.

The cast at a Jazz night in Birmingham

This week was exceptional as the audiences grew and responses seemed to escalate, with the crowd often up on their feet and a wonderful complete standing  ovation on Saturday night…the perfect way to end a great three weeks!  However, there was the odd mishap every now and again that kept proceedings fresh and fruity starting with the blood red curtain refusing to drop at the top of the show on Monday…cue ‘Super Rosie’ (ASM) to dart on and save the day.  This was immediately followed by Barbara (Betty) managing to break her ‘fake hump mechanism’ resulting in a slightly less than impressive swelling than usual!  Stephen (Ned) had an interesting moment during The Ballad of Easy Life where he managed to lose his shoes…awkward…and I (Lucy) finally gave CiCi (Polly) a black eye  by launching a polystyrene prop cake at her face…sorry!!

Verbal calamities were also out in full force this week when Milton (Macheath) announced to me that “every now and then I give her (Polly) what passes for a crisp” (instead of a ‘kiss’) and followed it up by referring to his beloved Polly as ‘Poddy’!…Sorry, who??!!  Luckily CiCi’s immediate response was “Oh Mac, it was such a s&*% time”…Freud!!!  None of this, however, could top the priceless moment on Saturday night where John (Narrator) announced his speech for the top of Act 2 at the top of Act 1…only to be told by Jude (sign interpreter) that this was wrong. Cue rapturous applause from the audience when he eventually did get it right…that would have been a speedy show!

This must have had a domino effect for the music as John gave us an extra ‘Big Ben Bell Bong’ ™ in the prison and again in the Epitaph which is probably why Joey (MD) spat all over himself in the Act 2 Finale. Joey then retaliated with a rogue note from the piano following a Call from the Grave…OK mate, you win. With all of this going on, Sonia (Maisie) thought she had escaped unscathed having entered with her clarinet line two bars early in the Overture…she didn’t!  In her defence, that one is so weird, nobody would have noticed!

For the weekly culinary report Amelia (Jenny), Joey and myself took a lovely trip to Pizza Express to take full advantage of Orange Wednesday…we thought we would be resourceful and save one for after the show and left it in the Green Room as to not stink out the dressing rooms. Come to 22.23 hours, it was gone…we will find the pizza thief…watch this space. For the record, my money is on Will (Tiger Brown)!

John Kelly wears a chef's hat, holds a wooden spoon between his teeth and holds a grater. He's covered in flower and the kitchen is in disarray behind him

Cooking with John!

On a happier note John and Drew (Team Sound) were up to their usual baking shenanigans as they embarked on a blueberry cheesecake for Martin’s (Team Sound) birthday and it was delicious even if the process was hilarious.  There is a video circulating titled “Baking with John Kelly featuring Special Guest, Drew” and it does come with a warning “Do not attempt without a professional chef present.”

In other news, Joe Vetch (Bob) managed to leave his microphone on stage in the warm up preceding Thursday’s matinee…he was promptly reminded by Stu (DSM) over the tannoy that “the house is now open so go and retrieve it subtly like a ninja.”  Sophie was faced with much ridicule when she managed to trip over in the dressing room and land in the laundry bin…I was, however, hit with ‘instant karma’ when I did exactly the same thing moments later….shame!

Wow…sorry that was such a long one but you will have a fortnight to recover as…yes, you’ve guessed it…we have a week off!  So join me in two weeks where I shall be reporting from the final venue of the tour…West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds.  (Where, hopefully, people will remember to turn off their mobile phones during the Barbara Song!)  Thank you Birmingham…Bye!

#3popera #SaveTheILF #BecauseWeAreWorthIt

Natasha Lewis…aka…Lucy Brown.

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Hoops, trapeze, silks and more

Rehearsals for Graeae and Circo Crescer e Viver’s co-production Belonging began in March with two weeks at Sticky Toffee Dance Studio, Birmingham. This brought the UK cast members (Stephen, Jez, Lyndsay, Sean, Tiiu and Milton) and the Brazilian cast members (Marcos, Sara, Viviane and Andre) together for the first time since November 2013. The studio is a hive of activity with directors Jenny and Vinicius working closely with a team of aerial specialists and sign language interpreters.

Sean rests on top of an aerial hoop looking down at Lyndsay. She is entwined around the bottom of the hoop holding on by one arm.

Sean and Lyndsay in rehearsal Image: Patrick Baldwin

A high ceiling rehearsal studio. Andre climbs  a red aerial silk and Jez hangs upside down on an aerial hoop, both suspended over blue crash mats.

Andre and Jez in rehearsal Image: Patrick Baldwin











The rehearsal process is unlike anything Graeae has experienced before – working with four languages in the room: English, Portuguese, Brazilian Sign Language and British Sign Language.  In some conversations there was translation from Portuguese to English to BSL and back again. It’s quite amazing to watch and really shows how these performers have begun to belong to each other. The production itself will also work across these four languages as well as incorporating audio description.

Marcos and Stephen mirror each other on two static trapeze. They hang upside down.

Marcos and Stephen on the static trapeze Image Patrick Baldwin

On the day we took these rehearsal photos there was, at one stage, a total of seven pieces of aerial equipment rigged in the studio with artists working in groups or solo to begin to form the aerial work for this narrative. The performers have different specialities, including hoop, static trapeze, silks and rope, and it is interesting to see them explore ways of moving on these. It would be impossible to mention all the incredible developments such as Andre learning more and more skills on the silks and romantic hoop duets blossoming! The artists continue to amaze themselves with what is possible as well as moving between spaces and adapting to new environments.

A group shot.

Back row: Marcos, Sara, Jez, Sean, Tiiu, Stephen, Jenny, Vinicius. Front row: Viviane, Andre, Lyndsay Image: Patrick Baldwin

Rehearsals have now moved to Hangar Arts in London before production week commences at Roundhouse next week. At this stage we can begin to see the piece come together as a whole with the design and music elements, integral to the show, falling into place. Belonging is centred on a derelict old house and, through different characters re-visiting the house before it is demolished, will explore what it means to belong.

Find out more about Belonging on our website


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Tash’s Threepenny blog #8

‘You ask your neighbour round to eat, he’ll steal the shoes from off your feet…’ (Act 1 Finale)

Week 2 at the Birmingham Rep proved to be just as eventful as the first with plenty of outings and tomfoolery to speak of.  It was nice for the ‘Threepenny Gang’ to relax slightly and have their days free to do some exploring of this fabulous city…whether that be a spot of shopping at the Bullring, having a nose around the incredible newly-refurbished Birmingham Library or sitting on a bus from your digs in Moseley and doing a full circuit of the bus route because you missed your city centre stop…I swear that wasn’t me!!!!?!  Not quite so relaxing however for Jude (sign interpreter) and Milton (Macheath) as they embarked on a week of daytime rehearsals for Graeae’s next exciting show, Belonging, with Brazil’s Circo Crescer e Viver whilst doing The Threepenny Opera at night…exhausting!

A large group sits around a long table, ready to eat.

The casts of The Threepenny Opera and Belonging

There were several social events to speak of this week beginning with an impromptu trip to the Tap & Spile pub on the canal following Tuesday’s post show discussion.  With everybody on such good form this promptly inspired Amit (Graeae) to organise a dual-cast curry at Imlees where ‘Team Threepenny’ were reunited with ‘Team Belonging’ for a fabulous feed.  Thursday evening saw many of the gang take in some jazz at the Yardbird followed by a boogie at Nightingales where Ben (Jake) had so much fun, he just couldn’t bear to leave…cue Dani (Team Wardrobe) and CiCi (Polly) for immediate ‘intervention’!  After all that, there was only room for one more social gathering…seeing in midnight for Stacey’s (Nellie) birthday and this was achieved in spectacular style complete with a ‘live’ 15 minute countdown (second by second I might add) from John (Narrator).  In the midst of all this excitement, we were also introduced to artist Tom Jones (not the Welsh singer!) who had managed to beautifully capture many moments from the show in sketch form.  It was incredible to see that he had managed to create a storyboard of the whole performance so accurately with such character while maintaining the essence of the piece…inspiring.

In the foyer of the theatre a line of drawings are laid out on the floor. The artists is talking to John Kelly as other cast members also look on.

Tom Jones shows the cast his drawings

There was a distinct culinary theme this week in the world of John as he turned his attention to his other vocation as ‘sous chef’ for Drew (Team Sound) while creating his latest edible delight – an upside down pear and almond cake for Stacey’s birthday…yet another triumph from our ‘Threepenny bakers’!  This must have triggered John’s sweet tooth as he faced his dilemma of the day: whether or not to buy a life size chocolate sculpture of Lionel Richie’s head which was retailing online at £499.99. Luckily it was offered with free shipping so perhaps that was enough to sway him! In other food related news, Stuart (DSM) almost delivered a lighting cue late on Saturday evening as he was happily sucking on a piece of phallic shaped confectionery…amazing!

It was an exciting week for Barbara (Betty) as she was acquainted with her brand new ‘orthopedic’ whore sandals on Tuesday…so thrilled in fact that she managed to ‘accidentally’ crash the cymbal, hit the woodblock and break the drum stool…all during the Act 3 Finale…genius.  Meanwhile, continuing on a shoe theme…Sophie (Dolly) spotted her ‘whore-shoe twin’ tottering down New Street and Milton managed to put his fancy patent leather spats on the wrong feet at the top of Act 2…bless him!  It was a spectacular wardrobe week for Stacey as she managed to play The Ballad of Sexual Imperative with her hot pants undone and almost enter the stage for the top of Act 2 on Friday with no hot pants at all…thank goodness that’s the ‘whore house’ scene!

Top of the ‘show calamity’ list this week was mighty Max (Filch) who called Moby (CSM) during Saturday’s warm up to inform him that he was running a little late…to the surprise of Moby who hadn’t noticed that he was missing in the first place!  This followed Max’s epic ‘stackage’ in the Peachum/Whore scene on Monday where he managed to poetically trip over his own feet, landing on his face!  CiCi attempted a spot of method acting on Tuesday where she attacked me (Lucy) with her curling tongs while Joey (MD) managed to walk Amelia (Jenny) into a wall…twice!  At least there was good news for Will (Tiger Brown) on Saturday as he won the ‘Threepenny’ Grand National sweepstakes…drinks are on you Will.

After a week where we saw TJ (Smith) bonding with an inflatable parrot and Sophie using the show to address her ‘phobia of placards’ I am pooped!  So I bid you farewell until next week when I shall be reporting on our final week at the Rep…Bye!

#3popera #SaveTheILF #BecauseWeAreWorthIt

Natasha Lewis…aka…Lucy Brown


A large group of people, the two casts of Belonging and The Threepenny Opera, are grouped together in front or a large black and white image. Two of the cast point at Stacey, they all hold a glass of champagne.

The two casts celebrate Stacey’s birthday.


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Tash’s Threepenny blog #7

‘Live life in luxury, that’s what it’s for…’ (Ballad of Easy Life)

Hello Birmingham! That’s right, this week the ‘Threepenny Opera’ gang landed at the newly refurbished Birmingham Repertory Theatre and, truth be told, it looks fabulous! It was wonderful to see that the theatre had completely embraced the essence of the show, decking out the front of house areas with ‘money trees’ upon which audience members could attach ‘leaves’ that represent things that are important to them, plus mini placards where they could write their own slogans. Also, we were given another hugely warm welcome from the Rep team, complete with a glorious feed at the Press Night party on Thursday evening and a lovely ‘Company Lunch’ on Friday afternoon.

A large building, the Birmingham Rep theatre. The building is in two parts with a flash fronted area. the left hand side goes over three levels with windows. The right hand side is larger and is covered in metal circles

The newly refurbished Birmingham Rep Theaetre

So, following three much anticipated days off, the gang were reunited on Wednesday to commence the third technical rehearsal of the run. With the auditorium and stage at The Rep being so vast it took some adjusting but we soon acclimatised ourselves and had the show looking and sounding pretty sharp. This was not, however, without our fair share of hilarity along the way…beginning with TJ (Walt) maintaining his theme of destroying his props within seconds of having them in his possession…the latest victim being his Faberge Egg! He was later the subject of naughty Stephen’s (Ned) attention when he found himself suspiciously handcuffed to the scaffolding set piece!

It must have been a full moon on ‘Tech Wednesday’ as Will (Tiger Brown) and Dani (Team Wardrobe) found themselves ‘negotiating vertical’ as they simultaneously fell over the harpsichord in the stage left wing…meanwhile, Amelia (Jenny) managed to brutally ‘attack’ Ben’s (Jakes) manhood with a prop newspaper…ouch! The rehearsal was rounded off nicely by John (Narrator) referring to the ‘Threepenny Curtain call’ as the ‘Threepenny Curtain Company’…well that would put an interesting alternative spin on the show!

Some of the cast members on a night out holding onto a large bunch of blue balloonsBy the time Thursday night rolled around, we were ready for Press Night and we banged out a particularly stonking show (special mention to Sophie (Dolly) for her magical rendition of Mack The Knife Reprise) and we certainly celebrated in style! The Rep put on a fab ‘do’ and then it was on to ‘Eighties-Tastic’ Reflex for a spot of cheesy frivolity. Somewhere along the way Stephen acquired a gigantic bunch of blue helium balloons which he managed to parade down Broad Street in the early hours while Moby (CSM) turned his hand to a spot of breakdancing…so many hidden talents in this company!

This week seemed to sail along relatively calamity free…but then, it was only three days long! Friday evening, however, was clearly the night for it as Victoria (Mrs Peachum) managed to lose her shoe prior to the Ballad of Sexual Imperative Reprise resulting in her performing the whole thing barefoot. This was then followed by me (Lucy) making a dramatic dash to play my one note on the triangle, only to miss it completely…klutz!

Saturday saw us celebrating another cast birthday (once Garry (Mr Peachum), Stacey (Nellie), Pickles (Matt) & Stephen had returned from a Bovril filled afternoon of Birmingham vs Bournemouth FC), that’s right, this week it was the lovely Joe (Bob). So in true ‘Threepenny’ style, super-baker Drew (Team Sound) created a Battenberg-esque masterpiece. The card and cake were beautifully presented to the birthday boy by the gorgeous Stephen who was appropriately dressed as ‘Pirate Jenny’ in full make up, hair extensions (blond and brunette) and a purple bra…this was also in aid of his ‘drag selfie’ to support Breast Cancer Awareness. So, following that evening’s show we all piled into the Jazz Bar down the road for some live music and were joined by the lovely company of Graeae’s next show, Belonging, which will also feature our Milton (Macheath) and Jude (sign interpreter). The cast also came to support us on Press Night earlier in the week. Wonderful to see the two casts bonding so nicely.

Well that’s it from me for this week…but I will leave you with one top tip…if you are ever moving house make sure to recruit the help of Rosie (ASM) who meticulously bubble wrapped everything to safely transport between venues…including the company tea towels!! See you next week…Bye!!

#3popera #SaveTheILF #BecauseWeAreWorthIt

Natasha Lewis…aka…Lucy Brown.

Find out more about Belonging

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Graeae hits the back of the net – £26,000 raised at annual fundraiser

Cast your mind back to February 2013 (or have a quick browse of the blog post) when we reported our highly successful fundraising event organised by Paragon Management UK Ltd. A brilliant night was had by all last year and we were delighted that Paragon wanted to run the event at Cargo again in 2014.

So, on Thursday 27 February we descended on Cargo once more with over 300 guests for another night of inclusive comedy and music and we are really thrilled to be able to announce that we raised £26,000. We would like to say a big thank you to everyone at Paragon for making the evening such a success with particular thanks to Matt Bray, Dawn Bray, Paul Vinten and Gary Heard. We would also like to thank the staff at Cargo for their help putting the event together, and Wessex Lifts for the kind provision of the lift to the stage. We’d also like to thank Graeae Patron Sadie Frost for her support on the night.

A group stands in front of a wall covered in graffiti. Two of the group where bright yellow football tops, the rest are in suits or smart clothes

From L-R: Andrew Green, Amit Sharma, Matt Bray, Sadie Frost, Dawn Bray, Jenny Sealey

The evening revels were opened by the diva of signed song, Caroline Parker, who performed some of her most popular numbers including Bohemian Rhapsody.  This year we also turned to Abnormally Funny People for some of the entertainment and sets by Don Biswas and Lawrence Clark went down a treat. Musical entertainment was provided by Paragon favourite, The Bikini Bums and a highlight was Dawn joining the band on stage for a number!

Comedian Don Biswas performs his comedy routine. Don wears a light suit with dark jacket and stands in front of a projection screen. He gestures out to the audience.

Don Biswas in action. Image: Phil Power

Among other raffle prizes, guests could win a signed copy of Jemima Dury’s book Hallo Sausages and two complimentary tickets to a show of their choice. We’re delighted that the winner of the tickets will be coming to see the opening of our next show Belonging in April.

The fundraiser this year was to raise money for the research and development of Garrincha – The Angel with Bent Legs. Garrincha was a Brazilian legend – a disabled footballer who played alongside Pele and won two world cups. His story will amaze you and this event was raising money to tell it on stage. To celebrate Garrincha, the Graeae team donned Brazil colours for the night.

A group shot of all the Graeae staff wearing football tops in yellow with green sleeve. They say Graeae on the front. With  the group is Paul Vinten who wears a grey t-shirt and jeans and Matt Bray who wears a suit with a union jack waistcoat.

The Graeae staff with Paul Vinten and Matt Bray

Graeae’s Associate Direcotor Amit Sharma, who will be directing the show and who has begun the research process in Brazil, said: ‘The money we raised at this event will kick off the beginning stages of developing and realising the production of Garrnicha – The Angel with Bent Legs. We now have the opportunity to start the long term investment in training Deaf and disabled artists leading to a theatrical feast, featuring the famous yellow and green jersey.’

Find out more about Paragon
Visit our website for details on our upcoming show Belonging

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Tash’s Threepenny Opera blog #6

‘It’s always swings and roundabouts, and nothing comes for free…’ Socrates Song

Busy, busy, busy is what it was in week two at the New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich with plenty of ‘Threepenny News’ to report.  We were blessed with a week of fantastic audiences ending with standing ovations in both shows on Saturday plus a bunch of cracking reviews!

Cici Howells as Polly Peachum wears her bright red sequined dress. She plays the piccolo .

CiCi Howells as Polly Peachum. Image: Patrick Baldwin

The Wednesday matinee was preceded by a touch tour where CiCi (Polly) found herself reunited with the guide dog she had had a stand-off with whilst playing the panto cat a few months previously!  Also, following a ‘plan of action’ pow wow at the Ramada at the weekend, a Save The ILF petition was introduced to the pre-show antics…paving the way to explore more avenues regarding putting a halt to the latest proposed government funding closure.

Monday evening saw The Threepenny Opera company celebrating St Patrick’s Day in style, hosted by the ever accommodating St Jude’s Tavern.  Garry (Mr Peachum) and John (Narrator) led the vocal extravaganza of rambunctious traditional Irish songs, aided along the way by Barbara (Betty), Will (Tiger Brown), Max (Filch) and Amelia (Jenny) with the entire company intermittently joining in. A particularly beautiful and haunting rendition of O WalyWaly from Victoria (Mrs Peachum) placed a perfect shamrock on the evening’s festivities.  So the night was a roaring success, beginning with a glorious sing-a-long and ending with a boisterous round of arm wrestling resulting in an unarguable triumph for Martin (Team Sound), while the ‘David Bailey’ of the company, Stephen (Ned), had his hands full seeking out show themed beer mats…fabulous fun had by all!

The cast are sat around a long wooden table which is covered in food and drink

The cast enjoying food at Jimmy’s farm

It was a jam packed week of social events as CiCi, Pete and Dave (Team Wolsey) did a fab acoustic gig at the Spread Eagle on Tuesday night. Friday saw us taking a little trip to Jimmy’s Farm.  It was a fun filled day of animals, zip wires, wooden police cars and a monumental amount of food. The day also saw CiCi taking a detour via ‘Aberzaijahn’ to get there, TJ (Smith) get bitten by a goose, Teya (Joey’s lovely other half) bonding with the guinea pigs, Joe (Bob) staring lovingly at the rabbits and stating “that’s SO Watership Down” and Dani (Team Wardrobe) head butting a plastic cow!  The fun was enhanced later that day when Pickles (Matt) instigated a cheeky game of ‘buckaroo’ involving balancing various random objects on John’s electric wheelchair during that evening’s warm up…inspired!

The show is in fine shape and just seems to evolve further from one week to the next. However, this would not be possible without the occasional accidental rewrite. Let’s begin with the compositional skills of Pickles who managed to change the song Bill Lawgan and Mary Kay to ‘Billy Brown and Mary Kay’ on Monday and ‘Billy Morgan and Mary Kay’ on Tuesday!

This promptly inspired Milton (Macheath) to create the following script amendments…
“Lucy, I’ll send for you, express dewibery” instead of ‘express delivery’ (perhaps he meant ‘midwifery’?!)
“Lucy, the fruit of our heart which you are carrying beneath…(SILENCE)…love”…err??
“Meet my wife, the farmer Miss Polly Peachum” (* former)…perhaps they met at Jimmy’s!

These moments were made all the more magical by a couple of musical appendices to join them.  The first was provided by yours truly with an impromptu trombone ‘parp’ that presented itself during the dramatic silence that precedes Pirate Jenny.  This was followed by Sophie (Dolly) almost managing to stifle her giggling whilst playing her flute during the Epitaph.  This could have been the result of her suggesting to Max that he incorporate ‘throwing up down her saxophone bell’ as part of his ‘drunk acting’ during the Cannon Song…only to hit him in the face with it when he complied!

Mr Peachum perfirms a musical number, gesturing from his wheelchair. Behind him three policemen dance with their truncheons in the air. To the left a man dressed in dark clothes and hat plays the accodrian

Gary Robson as Mr Peachum with Joey Hickman and the dancing policeman! Image: Patrick Baldwin

This week also saw a couple of ‘balance negotiations’ thrown into the mix beginning with a subtle trip from Stephen while he signed Mack the Knife swiftly followed by Milton doing his nightly floor slide and managing to head butt my knee in the process!  This was trumped however by Amelia who, after a completely ‘accidental’ but personal interaction with Barbara, managed to walk herself into the wall before the Barbara Song.  She then tried to redeem herself by running to do her saucy ‘cage dancing’ on ‘salvation’ prematurely during the Act 3 Finale!  At least she had a lovely birthday on Saturday, complete with a fantastic dairy free birthday cake courtesy of our very own ‘Mary Berry’, Drew (Team Sound).

Well, apart from Sonia (Maisie) managing to hand her hotel key card, along with her receipts, to the finance department, it seemed like it was a relatively calamity free week.  All that’s left to say now is that we have had a fabulous fortnight at the New Wolsey, named ‘Most Welcoming Theatre’ for a reason.  Join me next week when I shall be reporting on the shenanigans of the first of three weeks at the Birmingham Rep.  Bye!

#3popera #SaveTheILF #BecauseWeAreWorthIt

Natasha Lewis…aka…Lucy Brown.

Dates and venues for The Threepenny Opera

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Tash’s Threepenny Opera blog #5

‘Life is so perplexing, that is why we find it tough!’ Song of Inadequecy

A close up of a tube of M&M chocolates. They have slogans relating to The Threepenny Opera such as #3popera

The Threepenny Opera M&M’s provided by Ben

Following a gloriously triumphant start to The Threepenny Opera tour at the Nottingham Playhouse, this week saw us arriving at venue two of our travels…The New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich.  Hats off to our fabulous crew who finished the epic ‘get out’ in Nottingham at 4am on Sunday morning and packed all the gear off so that come Tuesday morning when the rest of us arrived we were ready to begin our second technical rehearsal of the tour.

With the two theatres differing so vastly it was intriguing to see how the show would adapt to this lovely and intimate space…well it did and it was great!  Tuesday morning began with a sound check which ran incredibly smoothly…apart from TJ (Smith) not managing to sound check his 3 notes in The Barbara Song on his clarinet!  (We’ll do that first next time!)  Following an instrumental theme, Sophie (Dolly) then provided us with a fantastic involuntary squeak in Pirate Jenny only to blame it on the utterly innocent Sonia (Maisie)…Those crazy clarinets.  Thank goodness Ben (Jake) was on hand with his custom made Threepenny Opera M&M’s to dissipate the situation!

With Tuesday’s technical rehearsals out of the way, we were ready for two shows the next day…and what a warm welcome from the Ipswich crowd. So, by the time Press Night rolled around on Thursday we were well into the swing of things despite Stephen (Ned) managing to kick Joe (Bob) in the particulars during a rehearsal earlier that same day…ouch!  The show, it has to be said, was fabulous with an electric energy from the company and a glorious reception from the audience at the end – probably spurred by Ben ‘photo bombing’ Graeae friend and patron Richard Wilson in the foyer during the pre-show!  So in true Wolsey style, we slung on our glad rags and trotted off to the theatre bar for a lovely feed and then on to Arlington’s for a cheeky little party!

The Saturday matinee was preceded by the first touch tour of the run where visually impaired and blind audience members were able to meet a few of the cast and stage management and have some of the vital and more outrageous props and costumes audio described and have a feel.  This included CiCi’s (Polly’s) wedding dress (the one with the death trap train!), Macheath’s cane and my (Lucy’s) baby bump.

For our first week in Ipswich, there was no shortage of ‘alternative show drama’.  This began with ‘Schimmel’ the show horse acquiring her own Facebook account…followed by the cast birthdays of Garry (Mr Peachum) and Barbara (Betty). These were marked in spectacular style by the culinary skills of Drew (Sound Dep) who began a love affair with the AGA in his digs and produced two sensational birthday cakes…you can keep those coming.  There was less good news for Martin (other half of the Sound Dep) however when Victoria (Mrs Peachum) ‘accidentally’ ate his lunch…thank goodness there were M&M’s and cake!  On another food related note, Stacey (Nellie) and Barbara completed their highly disciplined detox and, come Press Night, were ready to celebrate in style.  This is obviously what inspired John (Narrator) and Pickles (Matt) to seek out the ‘haute cuisine’ that was a ‘tray of meat’ for £4.50 at a local kebab shop…yum!

A group of the Threepenny Opera cast members are perched on and around a canon by the sea side. The salute at the camera

The cast on their trip to the sea side

With a show of this magnitude I am constantly in awe of just how impressive it is.  However, the experience is always enhanced by the on stage unforced ‘funnies’ that sometimes occur and of course I do have a few to report.  Firstly, on opening night, Jude was greeted with a sneaky little surprise in the whore house when a lamp shade flew in and rested on her head.  Meanwhile, Pickles managed to punch himself in the face with his gun, John decided to ‘cheer up’ the extremely solemn Epitaph with an improvisatory bit of bell ringing, TJ discovered a distinct femininity to his policeman and Stacey found a new resting place for her trumpet in the form of the Green Room.  The chart topping blooper of the week however was from John who managed to relocate  the ‘Coronation Procession’ to ‘Coronation Street’ which spurred Sophie to paint on her placard of protest ‘Ken Barlow for PM’…ingenious!

The week was rounded off perfectly by two tremendous shows on Saturday followed by a company trip to the sea side in Southwold on Sunday where Victoria managed to knock Amelia (Jenny) and CiCi off a stationary cannon.  While some of the company were sunning themselves on the beach and splashing about in the sea, John was lazing in his hotel room donning his lime green mankini and having an absolute ball!
With that perfect image, I bid you farewell…until next week…Bye!

Natasha Lewis…aka…Lucy Brown.

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Filed under 2014, The Threepenny Opera