Patrick has a long and illustrious background in music, but as this is his first show as Musical Director for Sainsbury Singers we took an opportunity to find out more about him.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I started my musical theatre journey – yes! the ‘J-word’ – when my kids got involved in youth theatre. The theatre was looking for parent helpers on an occasional basis so my wife and I volunteered for alternate weeks. At some point, the director found out that I played the piano and the rest is history.
I greatly enjoy the diversity of the genre of musical theatre because my own tastes are very broad. I love much classical music but I also enjoy rock and jazz. Sometimes I need a bit of Clean Bandit in my life, at other times Bill Evans, Palestrina or Peter Gabriel to name but a few. I greatly admire some of the ‘grand masters’ of musical theatre including Rogers and Hammerstein, Gilbert and Sullivan, O’Keefe, Schwartz and of course the genius Alan Menken. They demonstrate superb craftsmanship and understanding of not only the mechanics of music but also how humans respond to it, so that they can take their audiences into another world – that’s when the magic happens.
This is your first show with the Sainsbury Singers. Even with all your experience is it nerve-wracking joining a new society?
I would not say nerve-wracking, no. The society have been so very welcoming and friendly I feel very much one of the family already. On the other hand, my role has quite some responsibility associated with it and I always feel anxious to ensure that I am going to be able to support the cast well enough in learning and performing the show. I address this simply by preparing a lot. When I feel well prepared, I don’t feel anxious.
Musically, what do you particularly like about the show?
I think it is very well written, particularly in terms of keeping the audience’s attention. It’s almost as if each musical number comes freshly to the ears, maintaining an element of musical surprise as we go through the show. David Arnold has crafted some gorgeous harmonies for both the male and female ensembles and these add a silky texture to complement the hard-hitting nature of some of the material. Whether thinking about the ‘digging deep’ ballads or the upbeat group numbers, all the songs add to the narrative and leave you wanting more.
What is the most enjoyable part of the rehearsal process?
This is the moment after the notes have been learnt and we start to put the singing and the blocking together. At this point, one can start to see how the song is going to work in the show. It’s a very demanding time for the performers because they are having to remember the song and the moves but, as confidence builds, it’s like a flower opening before your eyes when you see how the words, music and movement dovetail so that the whole is much more than the sum of its parts.
And finally, excluding Made in Dagenham, what has been your favourite show to MD and why?
Ooo, that’s a tricky question. Can I have two? 1) Anything Goes which was a youth theatre production. This was exceptional in that the lead parts are very demanding for teenagers, and in an unfamiliar (to them) old-fashioned style. Nevertheless the principals delivered characterful and slick performances of Billy and Reno and the other key roles. Also amazing was having the whole cast tapping! 2) Sister Act which I MD’ed last June because it is a brilliant score by Alan Menken – really brilliant – and because it was my first ‘post-covid’ show.
Join us at Leighton Park Theatre in October 2022. Book your tickets now!
Prices: £22 adult, £19 concessions including booking fee. Tickets 4 for 3 on Tuesday and 10% group discount for 10+