Aspects of Dance with the Showtime Dancers – Putting their best feet forward.Date: 2 July 2012
The Showtime Dancers are four people who work tirelessly throughout every performance of Sentimental Journey, the family variety show appearing right through the summer at the Royal Hippodrome Theatre in Eastbourne, but whose full names don’t make it onto the playbill.
In the third of our series looking at all Aspects of Dance, I popped along to chat to Nicholas Sheehy (NS), Janine Guildford (JG), Joseph Crick (JC) and Lauren Askew about their work, their futures and the backing dancer’s task of supporting the stars and filling the show with colour, movement, glitz and glam.
Firstly, as there are three of you here, who’s missing?
(NS) It’s Lauren that’s not here. In fact, we’ve had a bit of a crazy couple of weeks because we had a girl called Gabby doing the show with us and then she left to take up a job offer abroad. Luckily we had someone to replace her quite quickly, that is Lauren, but now she has injured herself. She’s damaged her ankle but she should be back next week but in the meantime we’ve had to re-block the whole show and play around with everything so it still looks right – it’s been a bit of a nightmare.
So who does the re-blocking?
(JG) I’ve done most of the re-blocking. Because we live an hour and a half away, we travel down here and back each week and some of us have other jobs outside of the show, we don’t have the luxury of loads of rehearsal time. We just drove down here early and I started to work out how we could manage it.
(JG) Joe partners with Lauren a lot so it was mainly a case of saying “Joe, you’re not on” or “Joe, how about you do these moves instead”. Sometimes I’m dancing with both boys now and sometimes I’ll take Lauren’s part – in an emergency like this it’s just important to step up and get it done. Last night there were a couple of “mishaps” but we styled it out! We just add a few cheesy grins and some jazz hands and, down here, that’s what they really love.
Let’s find out more about a couple of you. Joe and Janine, what work have you done before?
(JC) As soon as I left college I did a 7 month contract with P and O Headliners Theatre Company and worked on their cruise ships doing 5 months in the Caribbean, 1 month in the Mediterranean and 1 month in Norway and I really enjoyed that, because I went with a very good friend from college and we had the most amazing time. After I came back from that I did panto in Glasgow at the King’s Theatre and then I did a few little jobs before Nick called to see if I wanted this job.
(JG) I graduated quite a while ago now, 6 years ago, but I have worked since the age of seven – doing pantos, plays, short films and stuff like that. After I graduated my first job was doing the Christmas Spectacular at Thursford in Norfolk and then I worked on cruise ships for a couple of years. I’ve done a lot of work with Nick as well, such as the Brit Asia awards and we just did a festival in Milton Keynes. I also took a couple of years off from dancing and got qualified as a personal trainer and lived in America for six months. When I came back it was Nick that got me back into dancing.
(NS + JG + JC) YES!
And Nick, how did you get to become “the guy to know”?
(NS) I wish it was like that and I had a boxful of jobs to hand out, but it’s not. I’ve been dancing with Janine for so long now that as soon as anyone says to me, “Have you got a girl dancer to partner with?” I, straight away, say Janine because we dance so well together.
(NS) We did that festival on Saturday and it was all a bit rushed. We were late because… because… I was driving, and we didn’t really have a clue what we were doing but we were straight onstage doing lifts and everything – nothing was rehearsed, we just did it.
(NS) I’ve known Joe for a few years as well and I know how well he dances and so, when this job came up, I knew he would be perfect to join us.
How long can you expect to carry on dancing?
(NS) This might sound awful, but I see some guys that I audition with and I just think “I wish you weren’t still trying to dance” because there is a certain look that most of the producers go for and they just can’t compete with the younger guys.
(JC) I think it’s about 30 – 31. Then you should move to more backstage stuff like choreography or maybe casting.
(NS) I agree. I think that when you get to about 27 – 28 you should start thinking to yourself “What’s next?”
(JG) I actually think that it’s maybe even younger for girls but, as I’m only 24 I have a fair few years in me yet, and I’ve always got my personal trainer qualifications so that is something that I could definitely slide into quite easily. I just don’t want to end up in an office. I’ve tried the whole nine-to-five thing and I didn’t enjoy it, there was no buzz at all.
How did you prepare for you summer season in Sentimental Journey?
(NS) We were lucky because we knew that we had the theatre for 4 full days before we opened and I knew we didn’t have crazy amounts of dances to do. There are no blackouts, we just come on with the lights up and go off with them still up, so it was just the routines to learn. Because a lot of the work I do is more commercial stuff, I wasn’t really sure exactly what to do to please the slightly older audience so I did a lot of research on You Tube looking at 50s and 60s clips and I took a lot of influence from that mixed with some Fosse-style moves too.
How much “unscripted fun” is there in this show?
(NS) We have a lot really. I’m quite relaxed anyway and the way I like to work with choreography is to have everyone’s input as well. If things don’t work I don’t say “Tough, that’s what I want.” If things don’t look good on your body then we’ll adjust it and everyone gets to say what they think. This enables us to relax and, as we’ve known each other for years it’s great fun too. Of course, we are ever the professionals, but we do have an extra little on-stage laugh now and again as well.
Are you just backing dancers or do you get full dance numbers as well?
(JG) We have two numbers, opening the first and second halves. Happy Days and Blue Suede Shoes and they are just us dancers but for the rest of the show we dance backing for Tracey Lea and Colin Gold, who performs as Connie Francis and Billy Fury. We don’t have anything to do while Jimmy Cricket does his act, but we do come back to join the full cast for the last bow.
The Showtime Dancers can be seen as part of the variety show, Sentimental Journey, which runs at the Royal Hippodrome Theatre, Eastbourne every Tuesday and Wednesday until 26 September.
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