As part of our creation of The Ruff Tuff Cream Puff Estate Agency, we have worked together with Underground Lights to offer two placements for work shadowing to their members. Getting to learn about staging a new musical and being a part of a working theatre team provides a direct experience in what takes place ‘behind-the-stage’ of a large-scale touring show. The pair have finished their first week in rehearsals, as one member shares the details on what they have been up to.

For our first week of working on Ruff Tuff, we met the Producer, Alice Linnane, who explained to us more details about the work shadowing placement, the show’s history, and went through the usual formalities. As a producer, Alice has to liaise between the various departments involved in a production. She discussed how, although she views theatre as “making magic” and is very passionate about her work, it’s a tough juggling act at times – helping to realise the vision of all the creatives.

Alice then introduced us to Patricia Davenport, the Stage Manager, who talked us through the responsibilities of her position, as well as the different tasks of the Deputy Stage Managers (DSMs) and Assistant Stage Managers (ASMs).

We had the privilege of sitting in on a rehearsal, where we met the Founding Artistic Director of Cardboard Citizens, Adrian Jackson, and the Musical Director, Akintayo Akinbode, as well as the actor-musicians. It was fascinating to see the show developing with many small changes along the way. Having an early opportunity to hear the music – written by Boff Whalley of the band Chumbawamba – was very exciting, and the talent of all involved was evident.

Adrian explained that there was more speech in this show than in many other musical theatre productions and that it would feature “doubling up” (the same actors playing more than one character).

Seeing the seventies and eighties costumes, and some of the photographs that inspired them, was a nostalgic experience that evoked memories of childhood and family photographs. We met the Costume Supervisor, Sarah Holland, and the Stage Designer, Ruth Sutcliffe, who told us how they help to bring creatives’ ideas to life.

I look forward to learning more about the technical side of theatre next week, as well as about many other aspects of the show.

Keep an eye out later this week for the first blog from our other placement, as we hear from the pair each week in the run-up to The Ruff Tuff Cream Puff Estate Agency.