... or how I lived forever and learnt how to fly
Funny how things come together. Last year, sitting at home watching So You Think You Can Dance, I told myself I wanted to work on a great big crowd pleasing piece of commercial dance theatre. I wanted to get some music I wrote on SYTYCD and in particular work with the amazing Kelley Abbey. I ended up having to pinch myself as all three of those things came together when I was invited to work on the musical Fame.
Having worked with Musical Supervisor Max Lambert on “Miminga” for the New Years Eve celebrations, he asked me if I’d be interested in getting involved. I soon found myself creating six new pieces and arrangements for the show, including a brand new dance sequence “Duende”; a Spanish and Flamenco inspired ballet which would feature Talia Fowler – winner of Season 2 of SYTYCD.
It was so exciting watching the piece move from discussion with Kelley and Max, onto my computer, and then out of my studio and then into rehearsal and performance with the cast and band of Fame. One of the highlights for me (and really the whole show was one long professional highlight) was watching Kelley mark her way through the chorrie for the first time in her lounge room. From there, it grew bit by bit through rehearsal and then into the theatre.
The first time I saw and heard the whole thing in the theatre with the lights, sound system and a cast hammering the moves, I cried like a baby from start to finish. I had a ball working on it, and was particularly blown away by a cast who would have walked on glass for Kelley. It was a complete dream come true.
So, when the cast were invited to perform on the Grand Finale of SYTYCD, originally the idea was to perform “Fame” (a track I also arranged /programmed for the show). As it became apparent that it would be logistically impossible to perform, Kelley suggested “Duende” and in the end the piece was performed and viewed by over a million people. Thanks also to Oscar Jimenez who wrote the lyrics for the tongue twisting Spanish Rap (performed by Keiynan Lonsdale) at the end and John Barrett who provided the gorgeous Sax solo on the track.
Among the other highlights in the show, I really love the new arrangement of “Dancing On The Sidewalk” – Tyrone’s big number in act two. Got to break out some beats, in a number featuring the incredible Timomatic. Performed with band, cast and three life sized TV screens it is a real sensory overload, and a credit to Tim’s amazing dancing and singing, Trudy Dalgliesh’s lights, a kickin’ sound system from Michael Waters and of course Kelley’s magnificent staging and choreography.