facebook play-alt chevron-thin-right chevron-thin-left cancel location info chevron-thin-down star-full help-with-circle calendar images mail whatsapp directions_car directions_bike train directions_walk directions_bus close spinner11
Following official government advice theatres are currently closed to help slow the spread of coronavirus. For more information on cancelled performances click here.

Jenna Russell’s Urinetown diary: Week 1

First Published 21 January 2014, Last Updated 5 February 2014

Olivier Award-winning musical theatre star Jenna Russell takes us behind the scenes at highly anticipated musical Urinetown in an exclusive diary for Official London Theatre:

 

First days on new jobs are always quite harrowing. Even more so for a big musical as there are so many people involved. 

The great thing about this first day was that we had already met a couple of months before, stood in a freezing cold warehouse in early December in East London, being soaked to the skin with rain for a company photo shoot. I defy anyone not to feel at least slightly bonded with a group of people who at the first time of meeting share a shower!

I have worked with half of the company before (I’m getting on remember!); two are very close friends, and a couple I’ve known since they were children. That’s the beauty of theatre; we really do feel like a family. It’s not a word that’s thrown about willy nilly. It comes from a strong sense of community and history with each other. 

Urinetown was my first outing to a Broadway show and I adored it. It’s such a funny yet dark piece with a very strong message and an extraordinary score. When I found out that they were finally producing it over here, I jumped at the opportunity to be involved. The show is in very safe and highly talented hands with Jamie Lloyd, Ann Yee and Soutra Gilmour leading us.

First day consists of a nerve-wracking ‘meet and greet’ where everyone involved in all departments of the show has to stand in a big room saying “Hi” to each other, kind of like an industry party but with no booze! This is followed by everyone individually introducing themselves and saying what role they have on the show; wig maker, publicity, cast, stage management, writers, producer, fight director etc. 

A welcome speech from the director follows and then the all-important model showing from our designer. I have to say, and I mean it, Soutra Gilmour has done it again. What a genius designer she is. Honestly, she amazes me, she makes the impossible possible. I think the St James Theatre audiences are going to be blown away at the ambition of her design. The cast then get measured for costumes, always a stressful moment. You want my advice? Don’t look at what they write down!

Then everyone who’s not cast or creative buggers off and leaves us to start work proper. The remainder of the first day is taken up with a full physical work out followed by a vocal one and then serious music study. And usually by 16:30 there are hysterics!

The rest of the first week contained tons of vocal calls to learn reams of music and harmonies punctuated by the first forays into… deep breath… choreography!! 

I have been a choreographer’s worst nightmare since working with the legendary Bob Avian on Sondheim’s Follies when I was 20. I remember being on my knees begging him to believe that I would get it right for him! In particular the Mirror Mirror number. I ruined my Mum’s wooden floor trying to get that tap routine into my head and I never really did get the damned thing right. I even fell over a few times, classy!! 

So, having a kind of Vietnam vet’s twitch about it, I was very happy when we had our first session with esteemed choreographer Ann Yee and found the first half involved getting massaged and cuddling each other. Very nice indeed! We have even managed to stage a few scenes… almost unheard of when you are doing a musical of this size.

A very happy first week. Bring on the next. You never know, Miss Yee may make a dancer out of me yet!

Share

Sign up

Related articles

If you click through to seat selection (where you'll see either best available or a seating plan), you will be seeing the most up-to-date prices. If this differs from what we've written on the calendar, please bear with us, as those prices will update soon.

We now sell our famous TKTS Booth discounts online here at Official London Theatre.

We are now cancelling all performances up until and including 31 May 2020 to help us process existing bookings whilst we wait for further clarity from the government in terms of when we will be able to reopen.

We are so sorry that in these testing and difficult times you are not able to enjoy the show you have booked for and hope the following helps clarify next steps in respect of your tickets .

There is nothing that you need to do if your performance has been cancelled, but we do ask for your patience.

If you have booked directly with the theatre or show website for an affected performance, please be assured that they will contact you directly to arrange an exchange for a later date, a credit note/voucher or a refund. If you have booked via a ticket agent they will also be in contact with you directly.

We are processing in strict date order of performance, so you are likely to be contacted after the date you were due to go to the theatre. However, we want to reassure you that you will be contacted, and your order will be processed, but please do bear with us.

We’d like to thank everyone who has been patient and kind in dealing with their ticket providers so far and we are sorry that we cannot process your order as quickly as we would like.

Please do not contact your credit card company as that will slow the process down and put an additional burden on our box office and ticket agent teams.

In order for us to serve our audiences the best we can, please do not get in touch with your point of sale if you have booked for performances after 31 May. Please be reassured that if we have to cancel future performances you will be directly contacted by your theatre or ticket provider. Our producers continue to plan for all eventualities dependent on the individual needs of their shows and we will provide further updates on specific shows as and when they become available.

We look forward to welcoming you back into our theatres as soon as we are allowed to resume performances. In the meantime stay safe and healthy.