CTC Ipswich cordially invite you to a wedding (well seven) at the New Wolsey
PUBLISHED: 19:56 23 June 2017 | UPDATED: 19:56 23 June 2017
Children's Theatre Company Ipswich's artistic director Bridie Rowe talks about newest production Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.
The wedding dance scene is definitely cursed jokes Bridie, enjoying respite from the oppressive heat of the rehearsal room.
“I taught it two or three weeks ago and it was really hot; when it’s hot you struggle to concentrate. Bless them, they were trying really hard and I was my usual ‘I’ve got three hours to get this number done’,” she laughs.
“Then I’ve tweaked it today as I always do and again it’s blistering heat but they’ve got it now... they power through, professionals that they are.”
Harkening back to the glory days of the movie musical the story’s set in Oregon in 1850. Young bride Millie plans to civilize and marry off her six rowdy brothers-in-law but it backfires when the overly enthusiastic brothers kidnap six women from the neighbouring town to be their brides.
The 30-plus strong cast have been rehearsing since in February, enjoying a brief break while the company put on a junior production of Annie at Easter. With three or four rehearsals left, there’s just final tweaks and polishing left before taking the stage of Ipswich’s New Wolsey Theatre July 5-8.
Finding shows gets more difficult every year, especially with all the other companies choosing theirs.
“I do like to have a forward plan,” laughs Bridie, who says being part of the theatre’s open season is like coming home.
“The show just popped out at me when I was going through all the different options. I played Millie at school when I was 15 I think; that’s how I know it. I absolutely loved it, it’s hilarious, with some serious moments, amazing songs, amazing characters, amazing dance routines - what’s not to love.”
She alway looks for shows she thinks will push the company, taking a rep company like approach by making sure there’s a variety of genres.
“We haven’t done a MGM classic like this and nobody really does this show. There are lots of parts for all our talented cast who work so hard to get to where we want them to be for the shows. It asks for different things. Cats was completely different to Seven Brides, then obviously we move on to Hairspray which is completely different again, that’s going to be really fun.
“It’s very nice to direct and they’re a pleasure to work with. The boys are absolutely hilarious and the girls are so beautiful and lovely and their beautiful voices; it all suits them. It’s really nice to do a real classic. It was a difficult decision because it’s not necessarily one of those big blockbusters that’s going to guarantee you a sell-out but it’s selling well. I think maybe it’ll attract a new audience which will be great for us.”
Musical director Jade Tournay-Godfrey, who joined the company for Legally Blonde last year, returns as musical director; and Becki Carey choreographed the big barn dance number.
CTC Ipswich Seven Brides for Seven Brothers
Benjamin and Dorcas played by Sam Pote and Charlee Bullock. Photo: Bridie Rowe
Caleb and Ruth played by Ben Kearney and Maia Elsey. Photo: Bridie Rowe
Daniel and Liza played by Josh Day and Saffron Hewitt. Photo: Bridie Rowe
Ephraim and Martha played by Tom Hendry and Georgia Gower. Photo: Bridie Rowe
Frank and Sarah played by Thomas Beattie and Sammy Stringer. Photo: Bridie Rowe
Gideon and Alice played by Sam Brown and Ellie Mellor-Hine. Photo: Bridie Rowe
The main cast of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. Photo: Bridie Rowe
“I didn’t realise it was quite so dancey but I do like choreographing, it’s a different challenge. When you don’t do it all the time it’s quite nice to revisit it,” laughs Bridie.
The professional costumes come from UK Productions while Mali-Beth Roberts has designed the set, which has been built by Bridie’s dad Colwyn and Paul Dedman.
Auditions were typically difficult, with the company improving with every new show.
“You never know who’s getting the lead. This year we’ve got Charlie Leggett as (Millie’s husband) Adam Pontipee; he’s never been a lead for us and he’s been with us for a long time. In the audition he made me cry, a lot of us were in tears... So it’s lovely for people to get their moment to shine.
“We’ve got some new people in some roles, obviously some old timers. People always surprise you in auditions. At the end of the day you have to cast the best show... I always say to them it’s what you do on the day.
No role for her nearly nine-month-old daughter Florence?
“Not yet, there is a baby in the show but Florence moves around now, if she was more of a newborn I definitely would’ve been tempted,” laughs Bridie.
“They’re a young cast but they’re so talented and (I’d say to people) not to be put off that it’s a youth cast because they’d give a lot of adults a run for their money.”