Performed in the Summer of 2002 this is an extremely enjoyable yet demanding performance. In particular the set involved substantial construction as several scenes are set on the upper deck. As we only have a relatively tight performance space it seemed a good idea to situate the band underneath the upper deck. As they are in full view of the audience at all times we made them seem the ship's night club band and dressed them appropriate 30's evening wear.
We decided to try for a stylish Art Deco feel to the set. Strong geometric shapes work well on the bar in this opening scene.
A set of steps leading up to the upper deck were an essential element. A lot of the choreography of the numbers involved actors moving up or down the steps and the interest it gave with the different levels was essential. In this shot the female lead, Reno Sweeny is in the middle of "You're the Tops".
The costumes were a real challenge. I have seen this done in 20's derss but the 30's is a very stylish and cool decade which is easier to put together from charity shops and parent's wardrobes. Accessories such as hats are a must, especially for the guys. Dinner jackets and various sailor's uniforms are also essential. The nightmare of finding jackets small enough for year 7 was solved through the use of school blazers which if worn with smart trousers and a waistcoat didn't look too bad. The ladies wore daywear of a calf lenght skirt and tailored blouse or a waisted day dress of the type popular in Wallis or Richards shops last decade. Again if worn with hats and gloves they gave the right feel. Evening wear for the ladies consisted of long silk like, fitted dresses with thin shoulder straps in plain colours - not too much black. Although it was a lot of effort the hard work was worthwhile.
Apart from the look, the show is demanding. Pace is very important things need to move briskly and ther are several entrances and exits where timing is crucial. A good backstage team is neede as there are some very fast costume changes which can really throw the principals if they are too stressed. Although the humour is pretty slapstick the temptation is to overdo it which just makes the show silly. The audience quickly warm to the show and appreciate the gags if they are subtle rather than forced.
Reno and her "angels" are a key element of the show and reno is a very demanding role vocally. We doubled up on the costumes for the angels, their nightclub attire in white was the same pattern with a blue nautical touch for their day wear. Hats and wings finished off the overall picture.
An interesting snippet for set construction is the use of cheap plastic pumbing tubes as cell bars. For our piece it was fitting to leave them white but they could easily be sprayed black and from a distance look very effective whilst being very light.
The use of viollet lighting here is very atmospheric and is especially effective on the uniforms and costumes which pick up the tone.