The Musical Misadventures of the Rock 'n' Roll Muso!
Jack and the Beanstalk at Theatre Clwyd. Photo by Brian Roberts.
It's that time of year again - and no, I don't mean the dreaded tax return! I'm talking about decking the halls, I'm talking about domesticated trees, I'm talking about those last minute Amazon purchases...why, it's CHRISTMAS of course!!! Well, nearly.
And what better way for an Actor-Muso blog to see the season in, than by taking a deep dive into the world of ROCK 'N' ROLL PANTO!
"But, hark the herald, what is a Rock 'n' Roll Panto?" I hear you cry!
Well, the clue's in the name really, but I'll give you a brief rundown...
Rock 'n' Roll Panto is basically the cool big brother of the regular panto. The main difference being that, instead of a pit-band, all the music in the show is played live onstage by a rowdy bunch of muso-thespians. Imagine Sleeping Beauty shredding a guitar solo while the Dame dishes out some sexy sax riff! Picture Buttons bashing out a beat while poor Cinders is left to tend to the Keytar. Imagine...Well, you get the idea?
But as we all know, Panto can get pretty chaotic at the best of times. Add to that a clustered stage of instruments and things start to get pretty interesting.
We asked some Actor-Muso pals to share with us some anecdotes that capture the crazy whirlwind that is Rock 'n' Roll Panto. From the mishaps, to the freak-outs, to the realisations that you really should have insured your trumpet.
So with out further ado, we present...The Musical Misadventures of the Rock 'n' Roll Muso!
Midi Madness - Grace Lancaster
Grace rockin the mic in Aladdin at Leeds City Varieties. Photo by Anthony Robling.
"In Rock 'n' Roll panto it's the responsibility of the keys player to trigger all the slapstick sounds on a midi keyboard. From bangs and crashes to twinkly fairy chimes, this one lucky muso has the special job of sitting in the dark and praying that they hit the chimes key and not 'Fart Number 3'.
Now for one performance of Aladdin, the laptop connected to the midi keyboard decided to reset, leaving us without any sound effects. I was on keys at the time and had a big cue coming up: Abanazer's 'Baddie Theme'.
As the cue came, and the inevitable silence ensued, one of the cast members bit the bullet and sung the theme into their mic. Much to the surprise of everyone in the cast, the audience joined in - the theme was repeated three times!!! Of course we all ended up corpsing and this is still one of my favourite panto memories to this day!"
'Schlop' Till You Drop - Lawrence Cole
Lawrence brings a rather dashing Sheriff of Nottingham to the good people of Hornchurch. Photo by Mark Sepple.
"Last year I played the Sheriff of Nottingham in a Rock n Roll panto production of Robin Hood at The Queen’s Theatre (Hornchurch). My character had the pleasure of taking part in the famous panto 'Schlop' trope - a scene in which characters unsuccessfully attempt to decorate a room using wallpaper and ‘paste’ (the schlop). The chaotic nature of the trope relies on fast paced physical comedy which can often get out of hand due to the generous helpings of ‘Schlop’.
During one performance my scene partner (the panto’s dame ‘Nanny Fanny’ - real name Jonny Barr) got particularly carried away when dishing out the ‘Schlop’. Due to this being my first panto (and what felt like the 100000th show in the run) I absentmindedly slipped and exclaimed ‘Woah woah Jonny, chill out!’ Jonny exploded with glee at being called his real name on stage, telling the audience that this was the first time in all his years of doing panto that it had ever happened to him! He milked it for all it was worth and the audience loved it!
I suppose it was just another example of that ‘Panto Magic’ everyone talks about."
Go out with a BANG! - Jessica Jolleys
Jess sporting the world's largest bow in Jack and the Beanstalk at Theatre Clwyd. Ah, panto is just so nuanced isn't it? Photo by Brian Roberts.
"Onstage - things go wrong. It just happens. And in pantomime, to a certain extent it’s almost encouraged. However, instrument malfunctions are not. While training as an Actor-Musician I did everything from dancing with my instrument, chucking ukuleles to my classmates across the room, I even did knee-slides with my Tenor Saxophone in tow. So, I thought I had this down. 72 shows of Panto would say otherwise.
During the show, I sneak on as a villager and overhear an argument between the Dame and Squire Stinker who is threatening to evict her from her home (arguably the most tense, quiet, and serious moment). At this point I’m supposed to stealthily pick up my trumpet and get ready to play the exit fanfare music.
However, during one performance I failed to notice that a saxophone neck-strap had tangled itself around my trumpet. When I went to pick it up, both instruments started swinging around each other, clattering together, metal on metal, before eventually dropping to the floor with an enormous crash. Then, all eyes on me as the scene comes to an abrupt end, in silence (minus the trumpet fanfare). I remember slowly dipping behind the mic stand in shame, praying I hadn't damaged two instruments in my complete failure to pick up an inanimate object."
So that's all for now folks! We'll be back with more blogs in 2021. If there's a particular topic you'd like us to cover in our future instalments then please don't hesitate to get in touch. The Bohemians would like to thank Jess, Grace and Lawrence for their contributions to this month's blog and wish them all the best for the year ahead.
So from all of us here at The Bohemians, may we wish you a very merry Christmas! Eat well! Drink well! And keep the music playing! Oy Vey!