When Exposure the Musical was officially launched three weeks ago, the cast had not long been in rehearsals. Fast forward to yesterday, and a very lucky press contingent were invited into their top secret base to see how they’re getting on! With the first preview approaching, this talented group of individuals look like they’re really getting to grips with everything that’s being thrown at them.
At the launch, we got to hear how great the company sounded, but the obvious treat about being let into the rehearsal space was being able to see how brilliant they are. The images and set will remain a mystery to us all until we take our seats in the St James Theatre, but getting a glimpse of Lindon Barr’s choreography in action was exciting enough for me! Dynamic, athletic, gymnastic; combining influences from across the dance spectrum, and performed with great verve by the ensemble.
The show’s main writer, Mike Dyer, was there to introduce us to the numbers that were showcased, as well as give us a bit more background to the show & its development. It’s all about photography, and the power of photography, drawing on Dyer’s belief that it’s the person behind the camera that can lose their soul with each shot they take, rather than the beliefs of some cultures across the globe that being in a photograph steals a part of your soul. It begins in 2006 – Blair’s Britain – a time of political instability, not unlike what we are living through now.
Jimmy Tucker (the show’s protagonist) is from Bow (London E3), drawing similarities with famous photographers such as David Bailey. He’s trying to emulate his father, who was also a photographer, and has just come back from the war zone of Sudan – very much in the mould of Tom Stoddart. He has seen the same things as the troops, and is therefore affected in the same way, returning home with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Exposure follows Jimmy’s life, alongside Pandora (childhood friend), Tara (object of affection) and Miles (shady PR man). He risks his life trying to complete his commission to shoot the seven deadly sins – an agreement borne out of revenge – but is everything as it seems?
Meet the cast
Following the showcase of songs, we were given the opportunity to speak to the four principals – David Albury (Jimmy), Natalie Anderson (Tara), Michael Greco (Miles) and Niamh Perry (Pandora). I wondered what first attracted them to the project…
Michael hasn’t done theatre for a while, having been over in America, so having the chance to come back to do a new musical was a dream – he’s done musical work before, but that was taking over a role that had already been played by other people rather than something completely fresh. He’s primarily an actor, so it was exciting to get a gritty, amazing role – and since rehearsals have started he’s been blown away by the talent working on the show.
Natalie also comes from an acting background, but has wanted to do more musical theatre; being able to originate something is a rare opportunity, particularly in British musical theatre. She’s used to creating roles and seeing where the story takes it, so it’s great to be able to do that in the theatre and put her own stamp on things.
The first thing that attracted Niamh to the show was the music, which was sent to her a few months ago. When it’s something completely new, you’re never quite sure if it’s going to be for you until you’ve listened to it and started to sing along. She also got more excited as she kept getting through to the next round of auditions – you start to want the job more & more, and also feel like you’re proving to yourself that you can do it. Meeting the team and understanding that it was going to be a collaborative process also played a big part.
For David, it was all about Jimmy. When you read for a role, you look for something rich, that you can really work with – especially if you can find something in the character that’s similar to who you are. It felt easy & natural for him to be Jimmy; he could understand who he is. He felt very sympathetic to his story and really wanted to tell it. This feeling has grown from the auditions, to being onstage and working with the cast & creative team. But it started with the story, Jimmy’s character and his journey.
It’s clear that this project means a lot to everyone involved, not least Dyer as its creator. We are told that the show is organic, relevant to our time, and ever-evolving. From the images & choreography, to the story & the songs (I’ve still got Rainmaker in my head, 24 hours later), this promises to be one of the hottest shows of the summer.
Exposure the Musical runs at the St James Theatre from 16 July to 27 August 2016. Tickets are available online and from the box office.