The Edinburgh Fringe is the largest arts festival in the world. Held every year, the event spans almost an entire month and boasts acts from all over the world – anyone can perform, and thousands of people flock to see the menagerie of acts on show. From the weird, to the wonderful, to the downright absurd, there’s something for everyone. This year, Rupert Ibbotson was a part of one these acts: Seussical the Musical. I asked him a few questions about his experiences:
1. What exactly is Seussical the Musical?
Seussical is essentially a combination of Dr Seuss’s works into one musical. The Cat in the Hat takes the audience into The Jungle of Nool where we meet Horton, the kind hearted elephant who discovers a speck of dust containing Whoville where he meets Jojo. Horton believes he should protect the speck of dust so he places it upon a nearby clover, while also protecting an egg which is abandoned by the lazy and careless Mazie la Bird. Horton is ridiculed by the other animals for believing in something they cannot see and he is put through turmoil in his pursuit to look after both the egg and the clover. Eventually, after being kidnapped, placed into a circus and put on trial, it comes to light that Horton was in fact telling the truth and the ones who originally ridiculed him join with him in their protection of Whoville, leaving the musical with a happy ending.
2. How did you prepare for the play?
Before heading to The Fringe, we had rehearsals every Sunday for around three hours where we learnt the songs and dance routines needed for the shows. We also participated in character workshops to build ourselves backstories behind our characters, which enabled us to connect more with them and to understand where we, as our characters, fitted into the plot and ultimately the world we were wishing to portray to our audiences in Edinburgh. In the week running up to Edinburgh, we had a week of intensive eight – twelve hour rehearsals each day so we could bring everything back together after having a couple of months away from being together as a cast. These rehearsals were highly important as they enabled us to touch upon any smaller details and to understand the intense living style we would be undergoing when in Edinburgh before it hit us. We also fundraised a lot beforehand through cake sales, special events etc and an online fundraiser which we promoted at uni and back at our respective homes. Kieran Mellish, Horton, secured us an afternoon working with children where we made Cat in the Hat hats, clovers, did face painting, and ran through some of our songs and dance routines with them. As well as helping us towards raising the money we needed for Edinburgh, this gave us a brilliant chance to work directly with children as a cast before we hit The Fringe.
3. What was it like performing at The Fringe?
Performing at The Fringe was an unreal experience. Having been in shows both professionally and amateur in the past at home and at uni, The Fringe was very special. I think it was the fact that you were performing at one of the world’s largest performing arts festivals and were effectively representing your uni and people you’ve worked with for months in advance. I think I’d stand for the entire cast when I say that our director Becky, our musical director Paul and our pianist Cameron did a fantastic job of creating a show that, even though we didn’t get an official review from, we can all say was a humongous success when we performed it in Edinburgh. It was also a great feeling to be up there with friends, old and new, who for me made the experience what it was. All I can say is, I hope everyone’s up for next year!
4. Did you catch any of the other acts? If so, which was your favourite?
I caught a lot of acts in Edinburgh which ranged from some of the best stuff I’ve ever seen to one of the worst performances of Shakespeare I’ve ever had to endure. They had a sound effect which was supposed to be a fountain – it sounded more like someone having a wee in the next room! Other than that show however, the majority were great. I caught an improvised comedy sketch in The Dropkick Murphys bar which was hilarious, saw an acrobat dangling 60 or so feet in the air from a piece of ribbon and watched an entire musical be improvised before my eyes. I don’t think there was a favourite show but my favourite moment in a show would definitely have to be when Loughborough Uni’s very own Thomas Hampson walked out onto stage wrapped in clingfilm with a banana strapped to his chest – it was unexpected to say the least.
5. What was the craziest moment of the week?
I think the craziest moment of the week would have to be Frankenstein’s for the Rocky Horror night. Watching a bartender dressed as Frank N. Furter singing Sweet Transvestite whilst two members of our cast danced on the podiums beside him was pretty surreal. That and myself getting three of us lost on the way to pres whilst wearing a fishnet top, ridiculously skinny black jeans and an unnatural amount of mascara, eyeliner and bright red lipstick – the weird part was people still tried to give me flyers to their shows as if this is what I wear normally.
All in all, The Fringe was easily one of the best experiences of my life and I feel extremely privileged to be able to say that I performed in a show with a bunch of incredible people and had the time of my life!
It looks like Rupert had an insane time, the show sounded fantastic, and I’m very tempted to go and stay in Edinburgh during August next year! Thanks for sharing your experiences!