Preview: Guys and Dolls
With UCLU Musical Theatre Society’s second Bloomsbury show of the year hitting the stage next week, Tom Chesover talks to its director, Nick Goodman.
This isn't your first foray into the arts at UCL, what have you done in the past?
Ha, where do I start? I started off playing the part of a bad-tempered rhino in 'Just So' at the Garage Theatre in my first year, and since then I kind of got immersed in the whole university arts scene. I played a load of different roles in Musical Theatre Garage and Bloomsbury productions. Then I decided it was more fun to try and work on the other side of the production desk, so started getting into the directing side of things. I directed the Rocky Horror Show at the Garage last year, and then decided that it could be a laugh to try and scale up a bit, so this production will pretty much be the culmination of everything I have done at UCL so far I hope!
What made you choose Guys and Dolls for the Bloomsbury?
It was originally suggested to me by Max Fagandini (the guy who's doing the music), as it was one of his favourite shows, and I felt that it would be an exciting venture. As a show it's pretty much got it all – the music is always great to listen to – after 8 weeks of working with the show, I still get a kick out of finding new moments, and when certain sections come in. But also, I think we're incredibly fortunate to have access to this professional theatre space.
What have you brought to this production that is new and unique?
Well you'll have to come and see it to find it all out! From the start of this whole thing, we wanted to try and find a new visual style for the piece that hadn't been attempted before. We've gone for 1950s New York but with a slightly abstract twist and this has affected the way we've approached all the costumes, set and lighting – we've got some great people working on all those sections. Acting-wise, I was very interested in trying to make an ensemble piece in which every single actor on stage would be working together as a team, but also to try and get closer to the Broadway world that these stories originally emerged from. .
What's been the most challenging aspect of putting on this show?
Logistics are my on-going bugbear. Everyone involved with the show has been very busy with course work and other commitments, which means when you have nearly 100 different people involved, there's a lot of teaching and re-shuffling to do, and its difficult to get everyone you need in the same room at the same time. However, saying that, the production team I'm working with have been very supportive throughout the whole process, so its been challenging, but in a good way!
Do you have a favourite song or scene from the show?
Tricky one. I have a lot of affection for all the different songs, and stuff the cast bring to it. There's a scene set in a sewer that starts with a big ensemble dance from all of our 'Crapshooters', then goes into this tense gambling scene, and ends with 'Luck be a Lady'. While I don't want to give too much away about the plot, I particularly enjoy watching that little sequence, especially as everyone in the cast has a sequence of in-joke bits that have developed over the rehearsals. It never fails to crack me up.
How would you describe your directing style? Is it influenced by anyone or anything in particular?
I don't know if I could really pin it down for you. I tend to like to approach things from an actor's point of view primarily, to sort of imagine what I would need if I was acting it myself. To a certain extent I try to picture myself as an audience member, and then I try and make the moment I would most like to see at that point happen. Or at least that's the general idea.
Can you sum up why people should come and see your show in 5 words?
Orchestra, dancefest, eight foot dice.
Venue: The Bloomsbury Theatre
Performances: Thursday March 1st – Saturday 3rd March at 7.30pm
Tickets: £10, £8 concessions, £5 UCL. Book tickets from http://www.thebloomsbury.com/event/run/1647 or call the box office on 020 7388 8822