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Life is a Cabaret: Her Campus interviews Musicality’s Kati Hall and Helen Richardson

Fresh from their smash-hit The Producers, which received rave reviews all round, Musicality are back this week with their annual cabaret, this year titled ‘Movie Magic’. I caught up with the society’s President Kati Hall and Musical Coordinator Helen Richardson to get the lowdown on just how it was all going.

So girls, thanks for making time from your busy schedules to come and speak to me today! Why did you choose ‘Movie Magic’ as your cabaret theme this year?

Kati: Something like ‘Movie Magic’ really can get the audience involved; it’s songs that people have watched from films they would know such as Sweeney Todd.

Taking numbers that can be quite familiar to an audience and performing them in your own way must have led to a few challenges?

Helen: The main challenge I’ve had is taking the songs from the films themselves, as in the movie they sometimes change the order of things or put words in where they aren’t usually; the challenge in that was bringing it back to the stage version. Because people tend to be more familiar with the film version, and that’s the version they have in their heads. Another challenge was trying to get the cast to sing it in the musical theatre style.

Kati: We’ve also be challenged in the sense that we’ve tried not to make it too generic. So there are things like Wonderland – there’s a song in that called ‘The Mad Hatter’, and that’s in our cabaret obviously because Alice in Wonderland is a film but it’s also a musical. So it was a challenge in trying to find the slightly more obscure musicals that people may not know about and linking that into the movies.

Helen: That was another point I really wanted to get across: that a lot more things, even if they haven’t been on Broadway or may have been part of Fringe theatre, have been turned into musicals.

So what’s your favourite number you’ve put into the cabaret, and why do you like it so much?

Helen: Well my personal favourite is The Mad Hatter, because I have a background in jazz music so I like the rhythms and how it’s a fast paced and exciting song. It’s a bit crazy as it’s meant to be a little bit creepy, so it’s a real chance for the cast to show off just how weird the Mad Hatter is meant to be. It’s a challenge as we’ve worked on it for so long, and we’ve put so much into the dance, it’s becoming one of the big numbers. I also really enjoyed doing ‘On My Own’ from Les Miserables, as we’re not doing that as a solo anymore, we’re doing that as a trio so it’s adding a whole new perspective on the different harmonies we can put in there. That’s been a lot of fun to teach.

Kati: We have a diverse cast and a big variety in terms of song that I have every faith that they will smash it on the night. And I’ve found that we have so much hidden talent that we didn’t even know was there until they came to auditions. It makes you wonder why they’ve never done this before, because they’re so fantastic. And Helen is fantastic at giving people songs that show off their talents so every song that’s been performed suits them so well.

Helen: I think people are so happy they have their own solos, they’ve really worked hard even when I’ve given them quite difficult tasks. They’re willing to go away and learn the Alto part of a solo on their own – that’s been really nice for me.

What influenced you and what made you choose these numbers for the cabaret?

Helen: I chose these numbers as for a lot of members, it’s their last opportunity to take part in the cabaret, so I’ve given them songs to match their personalities. For example I’ve given the happiest girl in Musicality singing ‘Morning Person’ from Shrek because it matches who she is completely. Some of these songs I chose because it was that person’s favourite song, they love that song, so I would put it straight into the cabaret because I know they would enjoy singing it. I also wanted to include people who haven’t yet had a major solo, I chose to put them in a song so they got a chance to be in the limelight.

I spoke to a few people from The Producers a couple of weeks ago now, and they were saying it has been a bit of a struggle to juggle both the musical and the cabaret. How have you found it yourself in rehearsing for the cabaret?

Helen: We had to reorganise a little bit, and take out one of the weekend rehearsals. We only really had this Sunday afternoon, and even then, quite a few people were hung-over. It’s been a struggle but I think what I did on Sunday was be as efficient as I can and just say to people that we’re running out of time, it’s just something they have to rehearse for themselves now.

Kati: Also I feel the good thing about the cabaret is that with the group numbers and smaller numbers only require two or three people to come to a rehearsal. With the bigger numbers, well, I still feel we’ve been able to smash those anyway, considering our Sunday audition.

So why should people come and see this cabaret?

Kati: Well, it’s the last big Musicality event of the year and the entire cast have put their all into it. I just think the cabaret is brilliant because it’s such a wide variety of songs that people have heard before or may not necessarily know, it’s such a good mix. For example, there’s ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ and then there’s ‘The Mad Hatter’, so it’s like this beautiful piece and then there’s this f***ing mental jazz piece. It’s so vibrant and everyone puts their all into it.

Helen: There’s some really big numbers in this cabaret that people will know, and there are some power hits in the show from musicals such as Moulin Rouge to allow the audience to connect with it; when the song is lesser known it sometimes makes it a bit more difficult for the audience-

Kati: But there is something for everyone

Helen: There’s so much variety in there, it’s not too far-fetched, its something everyone would be able to enjoy. Even my dad said he knew the numbers and he knows nothing about musical theatre, so I knew we were good then.

Anything interesting about this year’s cabaret in particular you would like to add?

Helen: We have a full dance number which is quite cool; it’s something we’ve added this year.

Kati: We’ve definitely improved on the dance front this year.

Helen: We’ve got quite a few really dancey numbers, which are really fun to do and definitely worth coming down for.

Musicality’s ‘Movie Magic’ is on 21st-22nd March at The Den, Portland BuildingDoors open at 7.30£4 for members, and £5 for non-membersTickets are available on the door


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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