This Saturday, an audience will gather to see a show performed by amateur theatre group Just Cause Productions. However, the show they are about to watch will have been rehearsed, produced and directed only 24 hours before.
Aberdeen-based Ryan Peacock is the person behind this show. A director, producer and performer, he formed Just Cause Productions in 2008 and their first 24-hour musical was Anything Goes in 2009.
The idea came about after Ryan and a group of friends had finished a show. They then talked of their various experiences in theatre and decided it was time to try something different.
He had heard that an amateur theatre company in Dundee had just finished performing a 24-hour musical and Ryan was intrigued as to how they accomplished it. Just Cause Productions then decided to perform one as well, bringing a new type of show to Aberdeen in the process.
Rehearsing for a show takes effort, patience and a lot of time. In this case, the cast and crew find out only the day before which show they will be performing at 7.30pm the following evening.
This year’s 24-hour musical has a strong cast of about 45 people and the crew includes musical directors, choreographers and, of course, the all-important costume and props people.
“By the time the musical is announced, there is so much to be done,” said Ryan. “Everyone has to keep learning and then keep themselves going all the time.”
It’s a challenge to stay awake for 24 hours, let alone learn an entire two-hour production. On Friday night between 6.30pm and 7pm, the cast and crew will gather and open an envelope announcing the musical they will be performing the next day. Over the next half hour, the roles are cast and after that it is down to work.
Once the rehearsal starts, it is nonstop until 3am. The cast, however, do get regular breaks to ensure no one collapses due to exhaustion.
As the show is rehearsed in such a limited amount of time, there will often be mistakes and mishaps on stage. These range from forgetting words to forgetting to appear on stage altogether.
“In our 2010 show Grease, we had one girl who forgot to come on,” said Ryan, laughing. “Everyone was wondering where she was and, a few minutes later, she appeared back on the stage.
“In last year’s musical, Oklahoma!, one cast member was meant to sing a reprise of the song after her lines, however she walked off the stage and the song was cut. But everyone has to be prepared for moments like these.”
The theatre term “break a leg” is appropriate for this year’s show, as poor Ryan broke his ankle in two places just a day before he was due to perform at HM Theatre in Singin’ in the Rain. Fortunately, The Flying Pigs’ Craig Pike, the show’s director, stepped in.
Despite breaking his ankle, Ryan insists that it will have no effect on his performance. It does leave him slightly frustrated, but he is still delighted to be involved with the show.
When asked if audiences should expect a fantastic production, Ryan said: “Absolutely. It’s guaranteed to be a great night out.
“It’s all part of the atmosphere and people are generally surprised at how it all fits together in 24 hours. We hope the audience will have faith in us, and the fact that the show is a surprise should encourage them to buy tickets.”
The 24-Hour Musical will be performed this Saturday at Aberdeen Arts Centre. Tickets cost £15 and are available from Aberdeen Box Office on 01224 641122.