Rapidly gaining a reputation as one of the most ambitious productions the Royal & Derngate has staged, A Tale Of Two Cities not only has a huge cast, but also a score penned by an Oscar-winning composer.
And the man given the responsibility of making sure Rachel Portman’s music is delivered with gusto, is former Northampton School For Boys pupil, Tom Brady, who has taken on the role of musical director.
With a complete cast of 32, and songs and music punctuating the play throughout, Tom, from Brackley, has a challenging job.
He said: “Being a musical director varies from job to job. With a very big musical you could be involved with score preparations and arrangements, sometimes doing orchestrations, teaching songs and making this work with the cast and director.
“In a play like this there is recorded (background) music, but you still have to make sure everything is in place.”
But the former Oxford University and Royal Academy of Music student has plenty of experience to draw on. His theatre credits include acting as cover musical director on She Stoops to Conquer at London’s National Theatre, working as musical supervisor and arranger for The Empress, with the Royal Shakespeare Company, and working as assistant musical director on My Fair Lady at the Sheffield Crucible.
But what has it been like for Tom working with an Oscar-winning composer?
Tom said: “She is a wonderful composer and it is brilliant she has taken on the project. There are a few songs and each theme is underscored and punctuated by Rachel’s score.
“It was gradually growing. She was still writing based on what we needed in the rehearsal room.
“It is a very dark score, quite orchestral and quite epic. There are moments when we are in the period, but the period according to Rachel Portman.
“There is a revolutionary song at the end of Act One which is sung by the whole ensemble of about 20. It gives a sense of the epic scale of it all.
“They are all local people who came in and auditioned for us. There is always a challenge with songs to make them sound as natural as possible.
“Some in the community ensemble couldn’t sing before and some of the actors aren’t from a musical background, so the job is about making people who aren’t actually singers, comfortable with song.”
A Tale Of Two Cities will run until Saturday, March 15.
For booking details, see www.royalandderngate.co.uk.