Ahead of Solihull Theatre Company's production of Aida at The Core Theatre, Solihull from 9-13 May, we caught up with Director, Terry Wheddon.
So you're currently working on STC's Aida. For those who may be unfamiliar with the story, could you tell us a little bit more about the show?
Aida the Musical is based on Verdi’s opera, but his music and lyrics have been replaced by those from Elton John and Tim Rice. Set in ancient Egypt, it tells an epic tale of love, loyalty, and betrayal, chronicling the love triangle between Aida, an enslaved Nubian princess, Amneris, an Egyptian princess, and Radames, the soldier prince they both love. With fun, humour and emotion, the show features fantastic songs as you would expect from these Oscar-winning writers.
How are rehearsals going so far?
With such a talented cast, the principal rehearsals have been fantastic with each of them responding so positively to my often demanding requirements. The full cast rehearsals have been very busy, but always great fun. With some minor tidying up to do, the show is more than ready for performance.
How do you approach directing a show of this scale?
Firstly, I need to get totally familiar with the show and what challenges it presents. I then need to liaise closely with the Musical Director and Choreographer to determine exactly how we’re going to put it on. The next stage is to sell the show to the cast so that they become as enthused as I was. Then it’s a question of breaking the show down into scenes/sub-scenes/chorus numbers so that a rehearsal schedule can be produced to which we religiously adhere to.
Are there any challenges you have encountered during the rehearsal process?
The biggest challenge was to find a cast of principals who could meet the demanding challenges that each part required. To the society’s credit there was such talent within, that casting became quite straightforward. This is a new show which very few people knew about. Consequently every scene had to be explained to the cast so that they were aware of how it fitted in to the whole story. The good news was that the cast therefore didn’t come to rehearsals with any pre-conceived notions. We were working figuratively on a blank sheet of paper.
What can the audience expect from the show?
Something fresh and new with a great story, exhilarating scenes and a terrific musical score.
If you're not in rehearsals, where can people find you?
Rehearsals are merely the end product of tons of preparation at home. I’m retired so this is not a problem, but I’m also fully active as Treasurer of various bodies, particularly my cricket club - DorridgeCC. I’m a big sports fan, more these days as a spectator than a participant, although I play bridge fairly regularly
Is there a particular show on your wish list that you'd love to direct?
I’ve directed most of the musicals available to amateur companies, mostly for STC but for a number of other local societies too. I’ve always wanted to direct My Fair Lady which I’ve appeared in twice.
Is there anything else in the pipeline after Aida?
STC are performing Half a Sixpence next year, and I’ve been asked to direct this. This is a show I’ve not directed before, nor performed in, so I’m looking forward to the challenge.
And, finally, what would you say to someone who hasn't yet booked to see Aida?
Waste no more time! Come and see a brand new terrific show performed by one of the best societies in the Midlands.