| Rehearsal Diary

Week One

Associate Director Cathal Cleary provides an insight into the rehearsal process for Privates on Parade

The first day on any production can be overwhelming for everyone involved, but day one, in fact the whole of week one, on Michael Grandage’s production of Privates on Parade was a blur of people, activity and excitement on a different scale.

two men sit talking
Playwright Peter Nichols and Michael Grandage during Privates on Parade rehearsals

The main reason for this was that Privates marked the start of a completely new venture for director Michael Grandage and producer James Bierman, as they launched into London’s West End with a new company and a season of five productions.

About fifty people squeezed into a rehearsal room at the Jerwood Space for the ‘Meet and Greet’. We stood in a cramped circle and, one-by-one, introduced ourselves to the rest of the company: cast, production, stage management, set, lighting, sound, wigs, associates, covers, etc.

Eventually we sat for a model box display of Christopher Oram’s beautiful design. This was followed by a wonderfully insightful and entertaining discussion between Michael and author Peter Nichols, who spoke vividly of his time serving in Malaya, the inspiration for the play.

One other aspect of week one that set it apart from other productions was the promotional photo and trailer shoot, the highlight of this being the sight of Simon Russell Beale, who plays Captain Terri Dennis, as Carmen Miranda… Dressed in corset, heels, fishnet stockings, full make-up and three feet of fruit on his head! It was a unique and wonderful taster of what the audience will eventually get.

group photoshoot lineup
Privates on Parade photoshoot