Backstage! behind the scenes of Dickens Abridged…

When ace Backstage! reporter, Sophia, met the crew and cast of Adam Long’s ‘Dickens Abridged, she was won over by the smooth operation of the touring show…and its talented cast!

Dickens backstage 1

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The company’s tour van aka Titus Vandromicus is crammed with props, costumes, guitars and the cast who relax on their luxury recaro-style seating, where they can snooze or watch a film

The van is the home for the Dickens Abridged tour, and it’s the job of Production and Company Stage Manager, Martin Bristow, to make sure the cast, kit and caboodle of Newbury Productions (UK) Ltd reaches its destination in the van in plenty of time.

After their two hour journey to Lyme Regis, Martin offloads the cast members early afternoon, and they become a slick machine, setting up the stage including hanging the cloth, and props, and laying out the costumes – all 64 of them! – ready for quick changes throughout the show.

Then it’s time for technical details as the lighting gel is fitted and the lights and sound sequence is set up in the sound booth, and as I discovered, this is an exact science.

Meanwhile three of the five cast members, Andrew Gallo, Martin Sarreal and Jamie Ross, having enjoyed their fish & chips on the seafront, try to win a green parrot with ‘the claw’ in the amusement arcade.  They are happy to play their guitars and hang out backstage, and sing a few show songs as a special treat for the good people of Lyme Regis promenading along the beach just before the show start. Jamie is the ‘swing’ (understudy) during this tour, arguably the toughest role, as he has to know every character if one of them is unable to perform. All five cast warm up, and then Jamie takes a seat to watch as he is on the bench again tonight.

Meanwhile Canadian born Matthew Hendrickson practices a few vocal exercises and tells me how important it is to connect with the audience; there is no ‘4th wall’ in this show!’ And with the energetic guitars, smiles, singing and dancing as they condense the life and times of Charles Dickens into 90 minutes, I don’t think the audience can do anything other than connect.

After a 9 year run in the West End, its interesting to get an insight into the Dickens Abridged touring show, so thanks to the cast and crew, and Sophia for this insight into life Backstage!

More from Sophia next week…

Dickens backstage 2