'She' in Cheltenham 2012: The Final Chapter Part Two
David Clifford (Producer/Director/Leo): Drummers don't really talk to keyboard players or singers; it's a social strata thing (I'll leave you to judge which way around), so despite the fact I have known Clive for many years, when our bands toured together we never really spoke much. So embarking on this epic journey in the last 18 months was without any more foundation than a passing nod between dressing rooms. I think we've learned a lot about each other and the process involved in putting a full musical on. We both came armed with our own camps (unfortunate term given the circumstances) of people and merged two tribes. We have built between us a really solid team now that really pulled together when it counted coming into the shows. I would not in this instance want to single anyone out for praise (although one or two spring to mind) because they all worked damn hard and produced the goods. I am proud to be working with each and every one of them; front and back of stage. Based on what we have achieved so far; I think anyone out there would be stupid to miss 'Alchemy' in Sept 2013.
Helen Ayres (Chorus): It was a really fantastic experience. I was blown away by the band and found the music sensational - so many of the songs are still stuck in my head. I met some lovely talented people and felt proud to be part of such a great show!
Aimee Harris, Beth Price-Bish, Bethan Walters, Celine Parsons, Charley Spencer, Emily Gray, Isobel Eamer, Jade Maden
Behind The Scene Team
Steve Jemmott (Stage Manager): I really was not sure what to expect when I turned up to the technical rehearsal 2 days before the first performance. Having been involved in many shows, I was pleasantly surprised to see how well planned and structured the whole event was… it certainly made my life far easier! Once the dress rehearsal got underway I found myself blown away with how well rehearsed all the vocalist and musicians were. I appreciate this may be a strange statement so close to opening night, however believe me when I say running the show through almost seamlessly on a dress rehearsal is a pretty rare occurrence!
Whilst on the surface things appeared to run smoothly, we did have one or two tricky moments, however I had a great support team around me which made life so much easier. I am a great believer that if the back stage appears to be running smoothly, then this helps relax everyone and makes for an even better performance. I’m pretty sure though that people were shocked to see the Stage Manager laughing, joking and generally fooling around each and every night! I should apologise to all though for the barrage of (very!) bad jokes I subjected everyone too!
In summary, I feel privileged to have met so many wonderful people with the show. Is there one thing I have taken away from this experience? Definitely, that one is easy… Dave and Clive, next time you have a box built to function as both a plinth and a coffin, please please please don’t make the darn thing so big and heavy!!
Marcel Haster (Video): Having been involved in the production from the start, with the website, I had been looking forward to the moment that 'She' would be on the stage of The Playhouse Theatre. Thanks to a lovely bunch of people, I was able to be present and when I entered the theatre, I felt the excitement in the air. Everyone I met was very kind and smiling... everybody was looking forward to go on stage and bring 'She' to life. I had a nice spot on the balcony, where I positioned my camera, to try and capture the magic that was happening on stage. I have been privileged to see the show three times, all from that spot and I can honestly say I had tears in my eyes, throughout every performance. It was so touching and well done. The singers were awesome and the acting was fantastic. The matinee performance was also very beautiful and nice to see the understudies got a chance to shine, a nice reward for all their hard work.
It was a very emotional moment, when the curtain fell on Saturday evening and it was over. All the hard work and preparation paid off and many visitors enjoyed the grand performance of 'She'. And all involved became good friends, so goodbyes were not easy. For three days I practically lived in the theatre and there wasn't any other place I'd rather be. While cherishing my memories of the fantastic performances of 'She', I now look forward to return to the theatre... this time for 'Alchemy'.
Magdalena Grabias (Caamora Liaison/FOH): I've been lucky to have been involved with 'She' from the very beginning. Remembering the excitement of Polish, Bolivian and Dutch shows, I was looking forward to the next chapter impatiently. And needless to say, I wasn't disappointed! Cheltenham was sheer fun and joy!
It was very rewarding to see the outcome of eighteen months of hard work of the whole team. The shows were visually stunning: clever scenography, imaginative costumes, dancers clad in blazing gold in 'Firedance' and black and hostile-looking in 'Ambush', and the Queen's lavish dresses were genuine pieces of art! All in all, a feast for the eyes and even more so for the ears. But that comes as no surprise with amazing talents like Christina, Agnieszka, Alan and David gathered together on one stage! To top it all up, the new characters, Billali and Rehani, played by Peter, Soheila and Katie, brought much diversity and fresh colours to the show.
To see 'She' in the hands of an entirely new cast during the matinee felt a bit weird, but not disappointing in the slightest! Some wonderful performances from Vicky, Becky, Ben and Chris - their different stage presence and interpretation made the show a thoroughly enjoyable experience! 'She' live has the power to shift me to a parallel dimension every single time I see it, and this version was not an exception.
I'll never know why the band consisting of such musical personalities as Mark Westwood, Scott Higham, Claudio Momberg and Kylan Amos should be half-hidden at the back of the stage... But even though mostly invisible, our four Musketeers played their parts with vibrant energy which filled the venue with notes and sound as powerful as the 'volcano' they were hidden by... Cheltenham made me realise once more how lucky we are to have them on board!
Agnieszka - the girl especially dear to me, was a neverending joy to listen to and look at - the perfect Queen to the core of her being. The set of powerful performances as always left me in awe and made me wonder about how strange fate written for us in the stars can be... If not for that one winter day back in 2006, none of this would be happening today...
Clive in a role of conductor was a fascinating view as well! Seeing him in such role is not an everyday sight, and the one I can't help thinking of as symbolic too... The master of puppets leading their actors in a true Henry Higgins style was bringing the smile to my face every time I looked.
It was lovely to meet old and new friends - always worth to cross half of Europe for the sake of these few priceless moments of good laugh, funny chats and litters of cider. My big thank you goes to Tina and Mike for being most wonderful hosts and putting up with me with angelic patience..; to Fernando for bringing so much fun and positive energy throughout the hours of sharing our front-of-house duties; and to David for bringing good spirit and support to everyone around. And to all who left their money at the merch desk :-) All in good cause! It was pleasure to talk to everyone of you! Get back again, I surely will!
My very special thank you goes to Clive, my good old friend :-), for having the courage to follow his dreams, turning them into reality, and making the mesmerising tones of 'She' sound like a symphony in my head even miles away in the foreign land.
Suddenly the world seems a better place!
The Audience Perspective
Tatiana Unzueta (Bolivia): Being part of 'She' in Bolivia, it was great for me to be able to see the musical in Cheltenham and to share those moments with Clive and the rest of the 'She' family. Great show!
Vincent Dortel (France): I've been waiting for 4 years to finally see this 2 hour-long masterpiece so I travelled all the way from the south of France for this event, and I enjoyed every second of it. The singers (main cast, secondary characters and the choir as well) were amazing, I went to see both Friday and Saturday performances and each night was different. The staging was brilliant, there were lots of surprises compared to the original DVD recording in Poland. Clive Nolan, David Clifford, the musicians and the whole Caamora crew did an amazing job in making those events happen. Saturday matinee show was one of my favourite moments, the understudies worked really hard and the result was stunning: each one of them added a new dimension to the music and atmosphere, compared with the original cast and for me it was great to be able to see the whole 'She' experience from another point of view. Finally, I also met awesome people sharing the same passion for Nolan's musical and these few days will remain forever in my memory.