For her work experience placement, Year 10 student Jennifer Roache stepped behind-the-scenes at MTC HQ to see how a musical comes together in rehearsal.
When I first found out I was going to be doing my work experience with Melbourne Theatre Company on the musical Kiss of the Spider Woman, I was over the moon. I had always been interested in how a professional company like MTC ran a show. I knew it was going to be such a valuable experience right from the beginning, and I was not disappointed. With music and lyrics by John Kander and Fred Ebb, the music and show itself was different to all the shows I'd seen before. Packed with a roller coaster of emotion, but still with beautiful and glamorous musical numbers, the work I’ve seen and what I've learnt from the cast and crew on Kiss of the Spider Woman is something I’ll never forget.
On my first day, I arrived at MTC HQ and had a tour of the offices and rehearsal rooms. I was impressed by how many departments were needed in the building to keep the company running. After my tour, I was given my script and schedule and was introduced to the Stage Manager, who in turn introduced me to everyone else in the rehearsal room.
It was so great to meet to everyone and put names to faces. Over the course of the week I gradually got the gist of what everyone's role was, cast and crew, and how they all worked with each other with efficiency. Dean Bryant (director) and Andrew Hallsworth (choreographer) worked together and separately depending on what scene/number was being rehearsed. While he was directing, it was great to see how creative Dean was with his ideas on how the show should work including transitions, placement on the stage and actions that the actors used. It was interesting to see the actor's ideas and suggestions for a scene as well. It was awesome to see the development of scenes, and how one slight change in blocking, or a subtle small piece of choreography, can change a song or scene so much.
While rehearsal was in progress the cast worked extremely hard, and then in break times they could relax. In these break times I got to speak to some of the cast who explained a bit about themselves and how they got into acting. It was so great listening to their stories and advice. Like in any workplace, there was a lot of work to be done, but there was always fun to be had as well. I found myself laughing a few times at some of the acting that was happening on and off the stage.
Jennifer with the cast of Kiss of the Spider Woman
During the week I observed different scenes and musical numbers. From the glitzy dance number Where You Are to the beautiful Dear One. Over the week I really got to love the show and the cast’s interpretation for what it was. Their intricate character details really came through and made the scenes and musical numbers magical.
One of the important things I had noticed watching the whole cast and crew, is the respect that was shown to everyone. The workplace was very organised and set out to be very efficient. The communication and collaboration between the cast and crew was always respectful, as was how they treated each other.
By Friday afternoon I had officially finished my work experience placement at Melbourne Theatre Company. It was as sad as it sounds. I learnt an incredible amount about theatre, music, and the industry in general. Everybody in the rehearsal rooms and around the building was always kind. I now feel a special connection to Kiss of the Spider Woman and can’t wait to see the finished product once the show opens. The amount of knowledge I have gained from observing these professionals, my role models, at work is immeasurable at my age and I am so grateful I had this chance. It’s hard to write in words just how valuable this experience is to me. It is the thing I'll take with me through the rest of school and beyond into the working world.
Kiss of the Spider Woman plays at Southbank Theatre from Monday 18 November.
Published on 10 November 2019