New Vic Artistic Director Theresa Heskins blogs direct from New York where Around The World In 80 Days has just opened on 42nd Street…
Well, that was an exciting day.
The acting company started at 9am with a warmup. By 9:45am, yellow school buses were drawing up on 42nd Street and spilling out children and teenagers of all ages.
The actors were admirably calm and collected. Act one was surprisingly quiet. Later I was told they were getting used to our strange British accents! In the interval, it was clear that the audience had fully engaged: a large group were doing the sand dance, interspersing it with bouts of flossing, and back to sand dance. I feel that Bev (our choreographer) may have started a new international dance craze. There was also an impressive amount of distance fighting going on across the auditorium. Paper throwing had virtually no impact.
When Mike (Hugo) came on to start Act Two he was mobbed by several hundred children. It was lovely to realise that they adore him here in New York as much as we do in Staffordshire. However, it became quite hard to start the second act. He fought his way to the stage, and took his place, but still the roaring and screaming was too much for him to be heard over. So, in admirable Education Department style, he raised his hand and smiled until the entire auditorium was quiet, at which point he sang his song about a little French man stranded in Japan.
For a moment it seemed that they would listen to us, but Nyron coming on dressed in stripy red costume doing flips and splits put paid to that. The crowd went wild again. Really, it was rather gratifying, although quite hard to act through. However, the actors did a sterling job, and I think everyone rather enjoyed it.
The marketing team told me they have very little to do, as the entire run is already pretty much sold out!
It feels that we have made some fantastic friends here, we have lots in common with the staff at this theatre, and it is clear that we all share an enthusiasm for making intelligent theatre for family audiences. The New Vic New York and the New Vic Staffordshire: In the words of Casablanca, this could be the start of a beautiful friendship.
We spent the afternoon working notes, and then everyone went home for a quiet evening.
Tomorrow, I finally get to meet our writer Laura Eason, who has been one of the lead writers on House of Cards for some years. In the afternoon I have a string of press interviews for Florida newspapers and radio stations in advance of our Florida dates, and then I’ll head to 42nd Street to see our show. It is all tremendously exciting, and I am so proud to be able to represent the New Vic here, and to tell so many people about the work we do, and to hear the actors talking about how special we are.
We wish you were here to enjoy it with us.