In the lead up to Solihull Theatre Company's South Pacific, we caught up with director Andrew Johnson.
Andrew, tell us a little bit about yourself...
Well, I’m 35 and a Music Teacher from Solihull. I’ve been involved in Musical Theatre since the age of 9 and have been lucky enough to be MD or Director for a number of great shows over the years.
If you're not in rehearsals, where would people find you?
Work keeps me very busy! I am currently working as Head of Music at Light Hall School in Solihull so can often be found there staying late to help kids with their coursework or rehearsing for the next concert. I can also often be found in the pub with friends!
Speaking of rehearsals, how is everything going with South Pacific?
They are going really well – I can’t believe how fast show week is coming round. Rehearsals with STC are always great fun with lots of energy and lots of laughter – which is what it’s all about, having fun.
How do you approach directing such a classic show?
Most of the shows I have directed so far have been fairly modern shows so I was a bit concerned about how I would get on with such a traditional and well-known musical. So I decided to do something a bit different with it.
It is still a fairly traditional version of the show in terms of the content but the setting will look very different. Instead of the traditional cloths and scenery, we are going for a minimalist staging with video and imagery on TV screens to set the scenes and to enhance the action on the stage. It should have a very different feel and allows us to use real life war footage from the Second World War to really place the show in its true context.
Are there any challenges you have encountered during the rehearsal process?
Rehearsing a show is always challenging! We have had a number of people had to drop out of various roles within the company due to all sorts of reasons so we have had to overcome those problems.
South Pacific is actually a deceptively difficult show to put together because it is so fast moving with scene after scene requiring different groups of the cast to be involved – it is rare to have the male and female chorus on at the same time in this show.
But, all in all, it’s been great fun and the STC “family” has overcome any problems we have faced!
What can the audience expect from the show?
A new take on a classic show – all the wonderful songs are still there but a fresh new look will hopefully give a new lease of life to this traditional musical.
Is there a particular show that you would relish directing?
There are so many I would love to work on but I’m not fussy- if anyone gives me work, I’ll take it. I’d love a blast at a comedy soon!
Is there anything else in the pipeline after South Pacific?
I have directed STC for two years now and I think they want a rest from me! So I am moving over to Knowle Musical Society to direct their production of Chess which will be performed at The Core Theatre, Solihull next March so I am really looking forward to my next challenge.
And, finally, what would you say to someone who hasn't yet booked to see South Pacific?
We have an amazing line up of principals, a brilliant chorus and a new-look South Pacific so come along and see for yourself and I’m sure you won’t be disappointed!
South Pacific plays at The Core Theatre, Solihull from 10 - 14 May. For more information and to book tickets visit the website here.