I’m Steve Roe, producer of Music Box Improvised Musical. That’s my funny face staring back at you. Of all the headshots I’ve got, that’s the most normal looking! I had to go into comedy as my big head is unsuitable for any other style of acting. I once performed in an impro show with the mantra ‘natural natural natural’ only for someone to come up and say "wow I loved your massive cartoon characters, you pull such weird faces!", and I thought "no, that’s just my face".
I’m here to give you a behind the scenes look of our show building up to Edinburgh, then doing Edinburgh, and then after Edinburgh.
At first this will probably take the form of thinly disguised attempts to market my show at you while I attempt to write witty anecdotes about “flyering on the royal mile” or such Edinburgh things.
At some point though I’ll write a blog while drunk at 3am in the morning after spending the night dancing badly in C Venues. And then all hell will break loose, and I might actually be interesting to read. I predict this will happen on the fifth day of the first week, based on previous experiences.
Until that point, here’s some background and what I’ve been up to:
Taking an improvised musical to Edinburgh is quite a foolhardy endeavour, as there are already some well established improvised musicals in Edinburgh (Showstopper, Baby Wants Candy, No Shoes). We could have made a children’s version, or found a niche, or a unique selling point, but we thought we might as well just go about it in a headlong gung-ho fashion.
So instead we’re hoping to somehow subtly grow a reputation as the free-flowing young British upstarts, with different musical styles and character acting away from the normal musical theatre styles.
To assist this message I’ve recently been investigating and purchasing advertising. I came up with an advertising master plan, but when faced with the actual costs we’re now carrying out about 1% of this plan. I now feel like all I’ve done is stick two postage stamp sized music box logos on the internet, and an A4 piece of paper on a lamppost somewhere in Leith. In the future I’m instead going to save up to buy a big Music Box airship to fly around in.
I’m now looking at other ways to advertise for free or cheap. High impact low cost, blah blah blah blah, in fact it’s hard not to turn into some kind of late 1980s marketing yuppy. This included investigating out how illegal it would be to make a massive banner and hang it on the cliffs near Arthur’s Seat overlooking The Pleasance.
Other than that we’re putting the show together. Being improvised it’s not “rehearsed” as such, more practiced similarly to how a football team practices various skills so you’re ready to use them in a match. If anything we’re match fit, as we’ve been doing a huge amount of shows this year, in fact far more than is sane or normal. It’s more normal to just rehearse a show from scratch in the 1/2/3 weeks building up to Edinburgh. Instead we’ve been performing about 3 times a week for a year in the build up, and have actually had to take a rest in the 3 week build up to prevent madness. We’ll find out if this approach works.
At some point however I know I’ll be stood in front of an audience and reviewers, in Edinburgh, about to improvise a musical I know nothing about. At the moment that feels terrifying. Luckily our last London show last night at The Miller seemed to go down well, which has calmed my wildly fluctuating pre-Edinburgh moods.
We’ve also been sorting out lots of promo gigs. One of these has been the Virgin Money street stage. I initially wrote to them with a list of all our available dates, thinking I’d get some of them, and they wrote back offering us all of them. As impro is based on saying yes we’re now having to become street performers too, which we haven’t done before. I like the challenge of that though; if we’re no good the audience can just walk away. I find it fascinating how the venue and audience can alter the actual show, especially in improvisation.
Although the nervous butterflies are still there I’m now looking forward to Edinburgh. It’s where I got together with my lovely girlfriend two years ago, and we’re now going to be performing together, AND I get to stay up late with friends without having to worry about getting the Northern Line home. Talking of which I’m up for meeting new people at the Fringe so if you bump into me say ‘hello Steve, I liked your blog’, and we’ll have a drink, my round.