The biggest challenge about directing a community opera of this nature is the vast age range and volume of performers. To paint the picture for you here are the groups that make up the cast…
Bay Primary School: The whole school (300 children aged 4 to 11) have a part in the opera ranging from seagulls to sea creatures, or as one 4 year old accidentally sang “I am a barbeque” instead of barnacle! The school haven’t had an opera company working with them before and I was heartened by one of the teachers who commented to me about one of the girls in her class “I’ve never seen her so confident, she normally sits with her head down”.
Community Chorus: This group has been specially formed for the opera and is made up of teachers, parents and the general community ranging from 22 to 85 years old. I have just started looking at the themes and music with them and the enthusiasm and laughs have been a plenty. One of the members of the group announced “I haven’t had this much fun since my husband died”. I realise how important this kind of opportunity is for participants when I am told by one pensioner “I haven’t been very well for fifteen years and I’ve lost a lot of confidence, this is helping me regain it”. The group will take on the chorus roles of Joggers, Lifeguards, Grandparents and a group of enthusiastic locals rehearsing for a pageant.
Bridlington Youth Chorus. A newly formed group of 15 to 21yr old girls. They will become the ‘young mums’ in the piece and are full of spirit and energy.
BOBS this is a group of 7 to 11 year olds boys from primary schools across Bridlington who have been developing their vocal skills with Lea Cornthwaite for a year. The lead boy in the opera will be cast from this group and they will play a group of children on a school trip.
MENCAP Music & Movement Group is an existing group and is run by a wonderful lady called Clare Mortimer. I have been to meet them and they are all really excited about being in the opera. Harvey and I will be working with them in May to write their song.
Production rehearsals start in May. Directing this number of people is like doing a gigantic puzzle and my hope is that the pieces will fit together beautifully and the audience will see a final picture and be moved by what promises to be a hilarious and sometimes deeply moving piece.
Karen Gillingham, Director, Beached
Beached will be performed at The Spa Bridlington on 15 and 16 July 2011.