Cjay Ranger is the director of the 2014 UK Tour of Rod Stewart musical Tonight’s the Night, in the first part of our exclusive weekly blogs with the team of the show, Cjay lets us take a small glimpse into her world as she prepares the show to open tonight in Manchester.
After having a great experience directing the first tour of Tonight’s the Night in 2006, I was delighted to be approached to redirect the piece for the new 2014 tour. Working with Rod’s back catalogue is a delight.
I was 12 years old and sat at the end of my kitchen table with my ear stuck to a radio. It was 1977, an iconic era for the British music industry and Rod Stewart was coming over the airwaves loud and clear – “Maggie May”, “Gasoline Alley”, “The First Cut is the Deepest” and “Tonight’s the Night”. His voice is within my muscle memory from childhood.
It was important to find outstanding vocal ability in every single member of this cast to deliver these powerful and poetic songs with strength and integrity, and to drive the supercharged energy required for this musical, which delivers hit after hit.
For Ben Heathcoate who fills the shoes of a sensitive hapless geek, and also captures the soul of the rock n roll legend Rod Stewart, the show never lets up. In three weeks of rehearsal Ben has found the high octane energy, the physical and vocal stamina, and the focus needed to perform this very demanding rôle – and the results are astounding!
He along with the huge talents of Jenna Lee-James, Jade Ewen, Tiffany Graves, Mike McKell, Any Rees and a super strong ensemble has made a director’s job a joy, as every day each member of the cast offers up more of their talent, commitment and dedication to the production.
It was very important for every department to work together as a close team so that scene transitions on stage became an integral part of the action, and will the full band on stage it was vital to create good relations throughout the cast, band and crew. I can feel the respect forming between the entire touring company.
We all – creatives, cast and crew – felt in a strong place to go forward into tech. This is always a very exciting time as the world for the characters to play within is crated on stage. It’s at this time the director oversees the onstage detail of the lighting and sound design which creates the crucial dynamic between the scenes and the impact of the choreography and music. It’s also the time the stage management team rehearse all lighting and cues along with scene changes. It’s a good time for the cast to feel their environment on stage, and to continue to add small detail to their individual show tracks.
We’re all looking forward to opening at the Palace Theatre Manchester TONIGHT!