So our new set of Matildas are now performing and the rest of our kids cast are settling in. We are also underway in our new temporary home of the Palace Theatre, Manchester, playing to stunning audiences every night. So rehearsals have finished, then? Not on your Nelly.
Having began the process way back in June, we have two weeks of rehearsals left as three of our new children cast learn a second role, a covering arrangement unique to the Matilda UK Tour. We have also welcomed a new adult ensemble member, Richard Astbury, who has just left the London production, as well as a new swing, Katie Lee, who debuted in the role of Hortensia last night.
All these new additions have meant rehearsals continue relentlessly. We have a dress rehearsal planned for next week, at which point things should start to calm down, although we have already begun the process to audition for the 2019 children’s cast, so it never really stops.
It is a joy to be back at the Manchester Palace. For me, it’s my childhood theatre, where I watched all the big musicals as they began their first outings from the West End. I know, therefore, how much the audiences are appreciating seeing Matilda for the very first time in Manchester. The cast are definitely feeling the love! As a city, Manchester is blossoming. I haven’t really worked here that much since I began this career, as most shows I’ve worked on have played Salford. As a result, its been great to re-explore the city as a 30-something. For the first time, I even have digs a mile away, although I still have the very welcome option of driving 45 minutes to my parents house in Cheshire, which is indeed where I’m spending the weekend.
I’m also loving meeting up with rarely-seen friends and extended family while being back here: school friends who now have families, am dram mates who were there back when I was learning from early mistakes, and family members who have never seen me conduct a show before. It’s a real boost at this stage of the tour, making all those hours of aforementioned rehearsals worth the slog. I look forward to meeting up with many more over these remaining eight weeks.