Having watched the show, I couldn’t wait to find out a bit more about what had been going on backstage. Here is what Director Caelan Sailes, Assistant Director Emma Price and Choreographer Maribel Esdaile had to say.
Why did you decide to choose Legally Blonde for this year’s musical?
Caelan: With the cast that we had last year, and with the ever increasing amount of people we have coming to the university, I just really felt a passion for this show. I saw it and had that gut feeling, “I really want to put on that show.” I knew it would be a good choice because we have a female heavy group of people involved in the Shoreline society. It’s so upbeat and modern, and different to things we’ve done in the past two years especially.
Maribel: It’s also a good balance between the acting and the dancing, and then the music for the band. It’s interesting music and they enjoy playing it.
Emma: We were severely lacking in the dancing side of things in the last musical, which is a shame because we’ve got such a talented dance society… Calean decided this would be a lot more inclusive, and it was!
What were some of the biggest challenges that you faced in the lead up to the show?
C: Trying to gather support, because it was a risky choice. People do tend to be scared of taking risks, especially when it involves money and taking up a lot of people’s time. They want to put on something that’s going to be worth it, so it was mainly about convincing people that we could do it! We could put on an upbeat, modern show. That was the main challenge, really.
E: I think that the biggest difficulty as a performing arts society is that we have to do everything ourselves. Not everyone knows that we exist, so everything which you have seen today is the product of Caelan and Tom’s hard work.
C: Yeah, we’ve had a crew of about 70 people working on this, with months and months of putting things together.
M: It’s really nice seeing all of our hard work come together on stage.
Can you tell me a little bit more about the casting process and auditions?
C: What we do is set a date and tell people how the day is going to run. We open it up to anyone who was a member or associate member. We audition everyone one at a time over the space of a weekend.
M: In the auditions, we gave them the choice to do the acting, singing and dancing and they did whatever they felt comfortable with. So if they weren’t a dancer, they didn’t have to, and they’d just be given a less dance-y roll.
E: We’d try to find their niche!
Was this your first time directing a musical? How did you find the experience?
C: No, it’s not my first time directing. I’ve been involved in the directing process of another musical before when I was in sixth form and it was a lot of fun, and that’s where I learned the skills and confidence I needed to pursue this project. I’ve also directed other plays before, including Much Ado About Nothing for Shoreline. But I’d definitely classify myself more as an actor – I’ve just learned from the people that I’ve been working with.
E: It’s much the same for me. I’ve written plays before and had them published, but I’d never done a musical, and that was a huge challenge for me! But having such good support from the other departments, and our Musical Director, Andrew, has made up for what we lack.
What’s it been like working with the other PA societies? Are you all members of Shoreline?
M: I’m actually with the dance society. I was the Advanced Musical Theatre teacher for the past two years but I couldn’t commit to it this year. I’m working at the uni now.
C: It started off as a bit of a challenge because when you come from something which doesn’t really have a title, it’s just the ‘performing arts’ musical’, it’s hard to compete with people who are in charge of the other societies. Working around that took quite a lot of time, convincing the other societies to get on board with the show, but once we actually did it was pretty smooth sailing.
Finally, what’s your favourite song?
C: I can answer this straight away! I love Blood on the Water because of the music from the pit band and the intensity on the stage with Callaghan’s big entrance.
M: As cliche as it is, I have to say Bend and Snap. You can see how much fun the cast are having and it puts such a massive smile on my face.
E: I would say, roll the credits, Legally Blonde. There’s such intensity and emotion in that song, and we were lucky to have two amazing leads who can do it so well. That one poignant moment really changes the atmosphere.
If you’re interested in seeing more of what the Performing Arts societies have to offer, why not follow their Facebook pages for news on upcoming events, such as the Performing Arts Showcase on April 6th.
Finally, if you’re interested in joining one of the PA societies, get in touch with their committees – they’re always happy to have new members!
By Caitlin Jones