At a time when so many amateur drama and operatic companies are falling by the wayside Sedos continues to go from strength to strength. The question is: why?
Credit: Legally Blonde - A Sedos Production at the Bridewell Theatre, LondonI think it's because of the widely varied programme of plays and musicals they present every year, always achieving the highest possible standard. It's that very high standard that attracts so many talented performers.
In recent years Sedos has given us both music and drama productions such as Into the Woods, Government Inspector, In Cahoots, Viktor Viktoria, Boeing Boeing, The Devils, West Side Story and Hot Mikado. Future plans include Serial Killers, Noises Off, Man of La Mancha and tick, tick... BOOM!
Legally Blonde: The Musical
Legally Blonde: The Musical tells the story of Sorority Queen Elle Woods, set on a career in fashion. However, after being dumped by boyfriend Warner, Elle enrols at Harvard Law School to try to win back her man. Realising that the law can be used to help others, Ellie uses her newly-discovered skills to defend Brooke Wyndham, an exercise queen accused of murder. Few have faith in Elle, but remaining true to herself, she soon proves them wrong.
What Are the Musical Challenges of a Production Like Legally Blonde: The Musical?
Laurence O'Keefe and his wife and co-writer Nell Benjamin wrote the music and lyrics to Legally Blonde: The Musical based on a book by Heather Hach. She in turn based her book on a novel by Amanda Brown and the MGM motion picture of 2001.
Musical Director Ryan Macaulay spoke exclusively to Infobarrel:
Infobarrel: Your previous MD credits include shows like Spring Awakening and High School Musical. How does your approach to this show differ from previous shows?
Credit: Legally Blonde - A Sedos Production at the Bridewell Theatre, LondonRyan Macaulay: Every show has its own musical style so I think it’s important to try and vary how you MD to cater for the show you’re doing. The music in Legally Blonde puts huge demands on the actors’ voices so we placed particular emphasis on warming up the voice. I tailored the exercises to suit the demands of the show – focusing on belt, diction and the American accent (as well as exercises in the different ways of singing different words). Legally Blonde is quite a ‘full on’ show – there’s A LOT of music so it was important that we broke each number down and worked through it methodically. I specifically asked the cast to avoid listening to the cast recording so that they could try and put their own spin on how they’re singing, rather than just being an imitation of the CD.
Infobarrel: What attracted you to the music of Laurence O'Keefe and Nell Benjamin? What are the main musical challenges in this production?
Ryan Macaulay: Musically Legally Blonde has been the biggest challenge above all other shows I’ve been MD for. Laurence and Nell write songs for the benefit of the plot and characters and as such they’re not as straight forward as you might think. There are often key changes and time changes within numbers (all corresponding specifically to action in the story) and as such it’s vital that everything matches up in order to create the right mood. It’s not just a case of having a song happen then some dialogue then another song – the music is very cleverly incorporated in to the show.
Infobarrel: When you held the auditions for this show, what qualities were you looking for?
Ryan Macaulay: From the very beginning we hoped to find singers who could connect with lyrics and portray a character. The easy trap to fall in to with a show like this is that you just cast people with fantastic voices and then the story suffers. In our case I think we’ve assembled a hugely talented cast who can not only sing but can sing and tell the story of their character. For the main girls (Elle and the Delta Nu girls in particular) we were looking for strong belt voices.
Credit: Legally Blonde - A Sedos Production at the Bridewell Theatre, LondonInfobarrel: I know from personal experience that rehearsals for any production are extremely hard work but you also create a bank of great memories. What is your favourite thing about music rehearsals at Sedos?
Ryan Macaulay: I have two ‘favourite’ parts of music rehearsals – the first is at the very beginning when you have the first singing rehearsal with the entire cast. There’s something quite magical about hearing the sound for the very first time. With Legally Blonde it’s been quite a luxury to have 30 voices so the sound on the very first day was immense. My other favourite day is the sitzprobe day (it’s when the cast and band meet and go through every piece of music for the show together). Whilst a sitzprobe can be quite hard work for the MD it’s also incredibly exciting hearing everything blend for the first time.
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Legally Blonde at the Bridewell Theatre
Legally Blonde: The Musical is showing at The Bridewell Theatre, London, from 7th to 16th May 2015. The fact that all performances sold out within days of the Box Office opening, bears testimony to the consistently outstanding quality of a Sedos production. Audiences know what to expect and certainly won't be disappointed with this show!
The Continuing Success of Sedos
I started by asking why Sedos continues to be so successful. It's not just because of productions like Legally Blonde: The Musical. I believe it's because of the many opportunities, such as Sechoir and Sedance, where members can develop stage skills in a friendly and encouraging atmosphere. Sedos offers a varied programme of workshops throughout the year geared toward upcoming productions. For further details of all activities and forthcoming productions are available from Sedos.
Previous Sedos Productions
These reviews will give an idea of what Sedos is all about:
- The Devils by John Whiting - Sedos Production at Bridewell Theatre, London
- Viktor Victoria - A Sedos Production at Bridewell Theatre, London
- Into the Woods - A Sedos Production at the Bridewell Theatre, London