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‘It’s sassy, classy and gay’: Musicality on their production of The Producers

Musicality, our very own musical theatre society, has been busy to say the least. Whilst many of us struggle to juggle a night at Crisis with our Thursday seminar prep, Musicality have performed nothing short of a miracle with their intrepid endeavour to organise their cabaret alongside their annual musical, this year being The Producers. I caught up with some of the cast and crew in between rehearsals to see just how they’re getting along in the run up to their opening night.

From left: Alex Huntley – Franz Liebkind, Rob Reed – Roger DeBris, Jon Walker – Director, Jacob Lloyd – Musical Director, 

So guys, thanks for fitting me into your clearly busy schedules! What made you choose The Producers for your musical this year?

Jacob: Jon and I decided we wanted to propose our musical to be The Producers about a year ago, mainly because we wanted to something a bit different from previous years – last year was Phantom of the Opera – and we wanted to show our flexibility by doing a comedy. It’s not too serious, it’s a bit of fun.

Jon: Jacob and I discussed what sort of show would be good for the society, and this was the best one really. It’s funny – our cast is naturally comedic, and our rehearsals can be quite funny…at least I hope they are-

Alex: Yeah the cast is very close, and we do work towards a shared goal; it’s more like hanging out with your friends for an extra two days of the week.

Rob: Some of the comedy scenes within The Producers means it’s a good thing we all have a close relationship with one another.

What do you mean?

Rob: Well for our big number ‘Keep it Gay’, I am signing a song with my assistant-

Alex: – ‘assistant’

Rob: who is… rather close to me, and being able to act together in such close proximity and keeping face on stage…the friendship really helps the comedy.

I’ve got to be honest, I’m not good on my musicals. For anyone else out there who hasn’t seen it before, what is The Producers all about?

Rob: Well, we could re-enact it now?

Jacob: We haven’t got time.

Alex: And we’d have to charge.

Jacob: It starts with a Broadway producer – he isn’t doing very well, every show he’s put on is failing. He meets with an accountant and they decide to team up because they can make some money from putting on failures.

Alex: The way that they explain it is that you could raise $100,000, and you could make a show worth $100,000, and if it’s a success, the people who backed it would expect a return from that. But if you raise the money and only spend around $20,000, and it’s a flop, the investors write it off as a loss and you can run off with what you raised.

Jacob: They look to find the worst director to put on this show, which is why most people know the musical for its ‘Springtime for Hitler’ number –

Alex: It’s the name of the show they think will do the worst –

Jacob: And because it set in 1950’s America, it’s quite risqué – we want to show how outrageous it would during that time. And due to the series of events, not giving anything away, not everything happens as it would seem.

Rob and Alex, you’re obviously both playing characters who are very different to yourselves (assuming you’re not cross-dressing/effeminate Nazis in real life). What was your biggest struggle in these roles, and what did you enjoy the most?

Alex: I think what I’ve enjoyed is getting into the mind-set of the character. For me, comedy can be ad-libbed – some of the comedic elements of the show comes from the actors doing little things on the cuff. It’s really good to get into the character, thinking what would they say and how would they behave. Having your cast mates laugh at what you’re doing adds to this too.

Rob: For me, the most challenging aspect of the show was performing in the chorus numbers before my character was introduced; some of them are very dance intensive numbers, and I’ve always been more of an actor and singer myself. At first we were all huffing and puffing, but now after rehearsing it’s a lot more slick. I have to say I have really enjoyed the amount of lifting – what I mean by that is the opportunities we had to move around and how much you can do with each other by working together.

 You are one of the biggest performance societies on campus, but there’s also performance groups such as Nottingham New Theatre and within Nottingham Lakeside Arts and the Nottingham Playhouse. Why should people come and see your show instead of what’s on offer elsewhere?

Alex: I don’t see why people couldn’t see all of them.

Jacob: We have five shows from Wednesday and Saturday

Jon: And it’s a nice night out really. It’s nice to go to a big performance with 300 seats than some of the smaller productions with only 100 seats.

Rob: New Theatre run several productions throughout the year, which are all really good, but Musicality has a once per year musical: we have a much higher budget, we’ve been practising for nearly six months, while New Theatre have a quicker turnaround. We’re offering something very polished and high calibre because we have the time, and the budget, to make it so big.

Jacob: We’ve invested a lot of time and money into our show, and so we have an expectation of quality we want to get, hopefully to produce something almost semi-professional.

Jon: It’s the biggest musical put on by the University.

Rob: We have people audition throughout all the university, and we do showcase the best we can offer.

Alex: We have a lot of links with New Theatre and NUDance etc…Musicality brings all these skills and puts them into the one performance. We cherry pick the best of everyone, and everything works together fluidly.

Rob: We’re not in competition with each other, we all work together; we have friends that do New Theatre and several people who are in The Producers do New Theatre too.

Alex: I think it’s important that the arts really flourish for the students at Nottingham, (especially for people like me who are inflicted with a non-Arts degree) so people are given this opportunity to express themselves. That’s why I think it’s so important that people come and see these shows, as it can encourage people to go on and pursue a career in theatre and the arts, like many of our previous members have.

Interesting! Anyone we know?

Rob: Our President last year has gone on this year to play at the West End.

Has it been a struggle to fit in rehearsals for your cabaret as well as this production?

All: Yes.

Alex: Literally, our cabaret is the weekend after the show of The Producers, so we’re going to have the final show on the Saturday, get absolutely w*nkered on the Saturday night and turn up to Cabaret rehearsals on a Sunday. It’s going be horrific, but we do it for the love, and the passion for what we do.

Rob: I’ve turned up for more 9am rehearsals than I have 9am lectures this term.

Jon: We know where our priorities lie.

Nice! Any Les Mis in the cabaret?

Rob: There is actually, I’m doing a solo from Les Mis. I’m planning to channel the spirit of Russell Crowe for the performance, before wiping his interpretation of Javert from my mind entirely.

Alex: The cabaret is basically a cross-section of what we do best, so there will be a bit of everything: I’m doing a solo from Sweeney Todd, for example. 

Anything particularly funny to expect in The Producers?

Alex: Rob has to wear a dress.

Rob: And a bra. We’ve had a bit of difficulty finding the right sizes, but there are many American dress sizes that fit me. I actually have several interesting costumes I’ve had to wear throughout the performance, but you’re going to have to come and see it.

Jon: We’re having a sponsored shaving and waxing section as well, as a lot of our cast members are fairly rugged and have beards.

Alex: There is a number of us that are required to shave and wax for the show. Luckily, I’m not one of them.

Rob: He’s been rubbing it in all week.

Jon: Jacob and I are getting our legs waxed for a fundraiser for the show.

The Producers in three words?

Jon: Sassy, classy and gay (but in the 1950’s sense of the word, of course). 

The Producers opens on 11th March at the Nottingham Arts Theatre, with the final of its five performances on Saturday 14th March. Tickets are available to book online now.Musicality’s Cabaret performance Movie Magic will be 21st/22nd March – details will be released shortly. 

Edited by Harriet Dunlea

I am a third year (eek!) English student at the University of Nottingham. When I'm not blogging from behind my laptop, you will find me reading, writing and being your general English Lit student.
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