“Wuthering Heights” Rehearsals – Week 3

Kings Cross is an absolute building site – and I mean that in a good way.

Since the new St Pancras International train station opened, Kings Cross has been buzzing with construction: flats, offices, hotels, concert halls – you name it, they’re building it.

But down a side street off the main road, you’ll find the area’s most exciting building project has just been completed. In their new rehearsal room for the next fortnight, the cast of Wuthering Heights now have a reconstruction of the upcoming set on which to act, sing and dance; and on top of this new and exciting playground, our cast are working with the latest members of the creative team – choreographer Nikki Woollaston and musical supervisor and co-arranger John Rigby, freshly returned from music recording sessions in India. Our director Kristine Landon-Smith told me how excited she is with the creative team members and the new additions in the rehearsal room:

Week 3 and things are moving very fast. I have laid down the whole work in detail and I ran the show last Friday and again this morning (Monday). Nikki, our choreographer joined us today and I handed things over to her. This is always an interesting transition point – its wonderful to begin to get another significant input on the rehearsal floor – already Nikki has picked up on things that needed some attention and she has begun to tease out movement detail (which impacts on the whole) in the large choreographic sequences and also in smaller moments. So now we are working together with a shared vision and the actors need to adjust to having both me and Nikki guiding them through the work. Deepak, book writer and Sudha who wrote additional text were also in rehearsal today and I discussed textual details and Hindi pronunciations.

John Rigby, orchestrator and arranger, is back from his travels in India and is very enthusiastic about the music he has brought back. He and I start work with the playback singers tomorrow – what I am loving about this production is the way there is no let up – each day a new element of the jigsaw comes in and we all have to keep up and keep moving forward.

So I am not fully back in rehearsals till Friday – looking forward to see how work with John and Nikki impact on the whole!

The other thing that is exciting this week – our marvellous production manager Ben and stage management team have managed to give us a very close representation of the set in rehearsals – so we are now working on four levels that resemble the rolling hills of the desert. We are starting to see how to take maximum advantage of the fantastic horizontal lines and levels designer Sue Mayes has given us in her set – always a thrilling moment!

Below you’ll see Nikki and the cast hard at work constructing the big numbers, as well as adding a magical touch to the play’s more poignant moments.

Gary Pillai (Vijay) and Youkti Patel (Shakuntala) with Nikki:

Meanwhile, Kristine and John are hard at work in Nitro Studios up the road from the rehearsal room. John has brought back the score, which he recorded with Chandru and his crew out in India, and together they are working with the playback singers to create the perfect Bollywood soundtrack for the show. Hear a sneak preview of a couple of the musical numbers from the show as John and the vocalists rehearse:

Ambika Jois and Kartik Raghunathan (the voices of Shakuntala and Krishan)

Irvine Iqbal (the voice of Vijay)

All the building blocks for the show are in place: soon the playback singers will be moving into the recording studios for the final phase of the music; the dances and choreography will be set down; and within the next two weeks rehearsals will enter into the final stages and these the two elements of recorded music and live action will be brought together to construct the Bollywood experience.
Now that’s some building that we can’t wait to see.

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