An Interview With The Cast And Composer Of Bed: The Musical

Isabella Thompson enjoyed meeting the cast of Bed: The Musical and chatting to them about their rehearsal process. Here are some extracts from the interview.

Tim's whole premise for this was to feature the bed as almost a third character, an observer of their relationship

Musical theatre is very physical. How are you finding it in such a tiring environment like Fringe?

Maddie: It’s Edinburgh isn't it? You do your prep before you come into the building because there's nowhere to get ready so warm up in your digs. Still, you have to warm up properly and make sure you're ready to breathe which will really, really help. There's no option really, you just have to.

Drew, you haven’t done musical theatre before—this must be a baptism of fire.

Drew: I said to myself, I’m gonna throw myself in a deep end, I may as well do this show because it's completely sung through. As you say though, it's quite rangy. You have to tap into the falsetto range quite a bit. We were saying during rehearsals that this is going to be a good opportunity for a bit of vocal training. I’m definitely going to pace myself. That method hasn't failed me yet.

Tell me about the rehearsal process in the run up to Fringe.

Maddie: TKD Productions sent us a the recording to listen to, and then we had two music prep days before 10 days of rehearsing. Matthew, the director, has worked with Alan and Tim before, so at least one of the writers would be in the rehearsal room with us so Michael could make a couple of changes. It was pretty collaborative.

How did you find discovering those moments of light and shade, and how did you approach expressing that through the music?

Alan: Honestly it was quite a tortuous process to get to something that we felt comfortable with. It's an interactive process between the two writers initially and then the creative team gets involved and we take that to another level. The actors are a part of this too, so there’s teamwork as it evolves through rehearsals. It's been a very long process and I like to work with creative input of everyone. The first song that Tim wrote was watching Alice sleep. He played me that and I thought: that’s a motif, you need to use that. The final song was written second, so we had a start and a finish and then we built upon the show from there.

So did you hear Tim’s story first and then use that as a point of inspiration for the music? How did it work?

Alan: Usually what happens is he starts with the idea of a piece. I will come up with something I call a soundscape or a theme around the idea and then we collaborate moving forward. With this it was different because Tim already had the theme with ‘Watching Alice Sleep’. What I love about the rehearsal process as well is that because this is a new musical, it isn't without its changes. It's really nice being in a position where the dynamic between the actors and the characters can help tweak it so that it constantly strives to be something clearer, better, more straightforward and more pleasant to behold from the audience’s point of view. There's about 15 discarded versions of the show because of that.

Because the story draws from Tim’s own real life experiences, do you think the relationship speaks to a certain generation? To what extent is it a universal message?

Maddie: I think there is universality in it. I think it particularly speaks to heterosexual couples in their 50s and 60s, because of some of the twists and turns in the plot. But I think it's quite important that there are moments of more modern takes on marriage and companionship, ones that maybe our parents and grandparents wouldn’t be able to relate to. I think there'll be slices that people connect with and there'll be others they connect less with.

What made you drawn to a bed?

Alan: Tim’s idea in the initial writing of it is that we spend a third of our lives in bed. His whole premise for this was to feature the bed as almost a third character, an observer of their relationship.

Yes, it’s where you’re the most vulnerable with another person, even sometimes naked.

Maddie: I think the two characters also recognise the significance of their bed as well. They build it into their life narrative.

Drew: I love my bed. I miss my bed right now. I want to be home in my bed.

What do you want the audience to takeaway from the show?

Maddie: The idea of forgiveness. We're all human after all, and sometimes we make a choice in a rushed moment. We’re sold this idea that you will love somebody and you will be sure that this is the right person for you, but it’s just so unrealistic. The reality is about compromise and choice. Couples choose to stay together: they can choose to stay on each other's team, or they can choose to go their separate ways. It's always a choice, you know.

Drew: Go and see bed!

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