21 months since the first preliminary children’s rehearsals began, the Matilda UK Tour played its last performance in Norwich. What a show! What a journey! I was 34 when I was told I would be Musical Director for the production, and 37 when it finished. Only my on/off work on Chitty Chitty Bang Bang has lasted longer, and only on Chitty, Chicago & Joseph have I played more performances.
The final couple of weeks proved a great send-off. I got a chance to play the big Keys 1 piano chair on the show, swapping with my Assistant MD Mike for one of the shows in our 9-performance week. Having begun on the show as a Keys 1 deputy in London I’ve been itching to give it another go on the tour. There was a raft of social occasions in the final week, beginning with an Alice In Wonderland-style tea party for the children, then an awards party where the orchestra won for “Commitment to the Cause” (pictured above) - an award celebrating the fact that we were the only department to survive the entire tour without anyone leaving. I also won “Head Boy”, whatever that means…
These two events were followed by the traditional Band Curry and then finally a big end-of-tour party thrown by the producers, with Matilda alumni making the pilgrimage to Norwich to say goodbye to the show. There were speeches, presents, and a chance for me to show everyone a film I had been making of the tour, right back to the first day of (adult) rehearsals, with each day of work represented by a one-second clip. The film ran for nearly 12 minutes, and was a pretty intense watch, as you can imagine!
Final days are always a bit strange. There were two shows and a get-out, and it was never going to be possible to say a proper goodbye to everyone. However there were more lovely words at warm-up, plus a company photograph, and then a small handful of us who weren’t immediately setting off home headed to the nearby pub to dissect what on earth had happened over the past 21 months…!
Returning to London, I was surprised at how quickly I acclimatised. I had a lot of touring luggage to sort through, and a few bin bags worth of items & clothes were removed from the flat before I fully unpacked! Then after a few days of sorting & chilling, I turned my attention to my next show: Falsettos. Running at The Other Palace, this is the first time this musical has been performed professionally in the UK. I am Associate Musical Director on this, which means I help out whenever the Musical Director (the marvellous Richard John) needs to be away. As I write, the show has just opened in previews and is running until the end of November (see my now/next page for a little more information and a link to book tickets). I will be conducting some performances from the end of September.
I have got my act together and started to see shows that are soon to close in the West End. I’ve seen JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR at the Barbican, ALADDIN at the Prince Edward, COME FROM AWAY at the Phoenix, THE SECRET DIARY OF ADRIAN MOLE at the Amabassador’s & ON YOUR FEET at the Coliseum. All fantastic productions, but I will be directing everyone I know to see Come From Away! A tremendous feat of theatre.
Finally, I’ve decided to walk (and maybe jog a bit of) the Capital Ring, which is London’s footpath equivalent of the North & South Circular, but involving more parks and quiet-ways. I’m just putting this in writing to ensure I stick to my goal…! It’s in 15 sections, so I’m hoping to get it done by the end of next month. Are those famous last words? I hope not…