Each year, Showtoppers (the University’s musical theatre society) put on a show in 24 hours for charity, and it’s happening this weekend! For those of you who haven’t heard of it before, this is the show where the cast find out what the show is only 24 hours before their first performance. In that time, they need to learn all the songs, all their lines and all the choreography to bring you a spectacular performance. I caught up with Director Chris Duncan.
What does a successful 24 need?
It needs teamwork, above everything else. None of us can do all the jobs that are needed for the 24 – there’s such a spectrum of stuff and so little time in which to prep it and teach it. A solid production team that works well together is essential but also a hard working and committed cast. Without each person feeling completely behind the idea and choosing to put in that extra 10% to their performance for the benefit of the show (even at 4am) then the entire thing falls flat. It also needs a sense of humour. Anyone looking for a flawless show will be sorely disappointed; it’s all about having fun and raising money for charity.
How did you cast it?
We cast it using a slightly different audition system that was tried at FAME earlier this year. We split into three groups to audition each person for acting, singing and dancing. Then we all spent an evening eating take away and discussing different people’s suitability for each part. There was a LOT of discussion and a few clashing opinions but ultimately none of us compromised too much on who we thought fitted where.
How are you keeping everything a secret and why?
Each year the production team tries to keep the show a secret so that it’s a surprise for everyone involved – cast, crew, band and audience! We’ve all tried exceptionally hard not to give away any hints to people, but the occasional slip gets made. You always end up telling a few people, either when you’re forming the production team or when you’re asking people for help on different aspects of the show, but most people understand why we want to keep it quiet. It’s just so nice to see shocked faces when you tell people before starting rehearsals.
What will you need to do to get the show ready in 24 hours?
LOADS! The problem with doing a musical in 24 hours is that usually most people are needed for most scenes, particularly any big dance numbers. That’s just the nature of a good musical! But that’s why we have lots of people on the production team – we try to split the cast out into different scenes and then teach them the songs/dances/blocking they need to know and throw it all together in the tech run. Then there’s all the set and tech to be done! The crew do a great job, made so much easier by the Tech Directors being so organised in advance, but there’s always a last minute scrabble (hair drying the last bit of wet paint, fixing that sound cue, figuring out why none of the lights are coming on!)
How are you going to keep the cast motivated?
That’s a good question! Hopefully we’ll be able to do it through the fact we’ve picked a great show! But it is a struggle in the wee small hours. We’ve scheduled in lots of quick breaks for food and water and then lots of love and enthusiasm from the production team. We’ll just keep telling them how well they’re doing and provide hugs when it starts to overwhelm them.
What charity have you picked and why?
We’re supporting the Rhys Daniels Trust this year, which is a fantastic charity that supports the families of children who have to stay in hospital for a long time. They provide free, long-term ‘home from home’ accommodation for the children and their families throughout the most stressful time in their lives. They are going to be opening a home near the children’s ward at Southampton General Hospital in the near future.
Why have you chosen to take on such a crazy challenge?
I’m not 100% sure why we decided to take this on. It is a bit of a madcap challenge and I think that’s what appeals about it. And it is a fantastic way of getting to take on a huge show in the parameters of the Annex – you can get away with a lot more cheeky tricks in the 24 than anything else in the year! And it’s a lovely way of meeting a few new people as well.
The big reveal happens at 4pm on Saturday the 8th of June, check out the event page for further details.
Performances are on:
9th June 2013 at
PA members: £4.00
Reserve your place by emailing: