Roll up! Roll up!
By Jane Silver-Corren
I want to join the circus and be a flea!
That was the overwhelming desire I had after various unusual auditions for the Bridport Ukulele Opera, Flea, due to be performed in the Electric Palace this May.
The initial meeting for those interested in being part of this amazing venture was unexpected. The ballroom at The Bull was packed with over a hundred fellow Bridportians eager to be involved. I started to itch! Did I have fleas or was I just a bit nervous? But Sally Vaughan, the projects producer, put us at ease, reassuring us that there would be a role for everyone.
Various local celebrities explained aspects of the show: the dance, drama, music, circus skills, all of which involved castings, but I wasn’t fooled. Many of these castings were auditions with a capital A.
So I decided to grab the flea by the bag, or is it the ear, and attempt to get a part in the all-singing ukulele playing chorus. I arrived eagerly on the first minute of the first day of three possible days of auditions for the chorus, along with some 60 other hopefuls. Hooray! Healthy competition. I found my 10-minute audition with the musical director and producer a bit scary.
They didn’t look particularly thrilled with my fantastic rendition of When the Saints Go Marching In, or my enthusiasm for the 10, maybe 12, ukulele chords I convinced them I had mastered in the past 10 years. But they did congratulate me on my audition; then convinced me to try for one of the other roles.
On to the dance castings. Three days later I had a wonderful couple of hours pretending to be the bodily part of a flea…. just my cup of flea…I mean tea. It was really good fun. Anna Golding, dance facilitator, showed us inspiring pictures of fleas, with cute dangly legs and googly eyes, and then the assembled group of all ages and sizes had to transform themselves into a giant flea, followed by a mechanical flea. It was fleatastic. For once, it was socially acceptable to hop around and make buzzing noises.
Then, about a week later the final audition, musical theatre, basically a main acting part with some singing and hopefully a few circus skills too (ha, ha, ha). After a few bonding games the group of about 30 of us were divided into groups of four. We had auditions in front of the producer, musical director, musical theatre director and drama director…not at all intimidating!
We had to speak and sing phrases from the opera in various different moods. I had a great deal of difficulty taking this seriously and spent most of the time giggling, especially when asked to be compassionate or angry…or kind! In the end, the director just let me do my own thing, so I enjoyed hopping around the room shouting ‘I want to be a flea’ which is hopefully what I’ll end up being…or at least a dancing leg of a flea, if I’m very lucky. I’ll just have to wait and flea what happens!
Sally Vaughan, producer of Flea, the Bridport Ukulele Opera is still looking for help, particularly free rehearsal and storage spaces, set-builders, materials such as timber, paints and costumes, scaffolding and people with childminding qualifications. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you can help.