New musical Carnaby Street, featuring hits of the 60s, started rehearsing last week. Set in London's West End in the swinging 60s, Carnaby Street tells the story of Jude, a working class boy from Liverpool, new in London and armed with nothing but his guitar and his dreams of fame and fortune.

With a cast including Verity Rushworth, Aaron Sidwell, Tricia Adele-Turner and Paul Hazel, the show runs at the Hackney Empire from 6-14 April 2013 before touring the UK.

Here Paul Hazel, who plays Lily the Pink, gives us an insight into the first week of rehearsals...


So here it is, the first rehearsal diary from brand new musical Carnaby Street. We've just completed our first week of rehearsals and it’s been a great week, starting with meeting the cast and creatives. We're under the direction of Bob Thomson (Blood Brothers, Dreamboats and Petticoats) and choreography comes courtesy of Carole Todd (Dreamboats and Petticoats, Dancing in the Streets and Soul Sister).

After the meet and greet, which always includes tea and biscuits and a viewing of the box set (which is incredible), we went straight into a read-through of the script which exposed the talent in this show. Our musical supervisor, the effervescent and infectious Mr Colin Cattle has put together a set list of some of the hits of the 1960’s and these songs all fit perfectly into the original story line.

Carnaby Street the Musical Rehearsal Images
The company of Carnaby Street

We are really spoilt as this is an actor-musician show, which means unlike other shows where you don’t hear the full band until two or three days before you open, we have all the musicians with instruments on site, so we get to rehearse the songs hearing the full sound. I for one have been blown away with what I've heard so far.

The cast are bonding nicely and new friendships are forming although just as we started rehearsals our Penny, newlywed Verity Rushworth, left us to join her husband for their honeymoon in NYC. She has been missed, but her cover Lauren Storer has been doing a great job in between training for the London Marathon.

One of the questions on everyone’s lips is “What will Lily the Pink (that’s my character), be wearing?” Well all I can say about that is from the little bits I have heard be prepared to be dazzled - more about that in the week.

We're already seeing some great performances, including from Mark Pearce (Wild Thing) who sings “Don’t let me be Misunderstood”. He brought the rehearsal room to a standstill with this, I would suggest bringing one or two tissues with you for that moment.

Carnaby Street the Musical Rehearsal Images

The week has flown by and we have packed a lot in, resulting in some very tired people - including myself. This was noticed and on day four we all arrived to rehearsals to be greeted by a fabulous Nespresso café  machine courtesy of Matt Wycliffe (Jude). We ran out of pods very quickly and the end of the week has been highly charged and wired! Thanks Matt, that machine will definitely be used.

To wrap up my first blog, we started the week with our company manager Elvin Talbot who unfortunately had to leave us for unforeseen circumstances. Elvin we miss you! He has however been replaced by highly experienced company manager Charlotte Warner who has come all the way from France to take us safely around the UK on this tour. From all of us Charlotte, WELCOME TO C STREET!

Thanks for reading and check back for more blogs about life on Carnaby Street...

- Paul Hazel