Culture Theatre

Interview with Edinburgh University Footlights on The Wedding Singer

Founded in 1989, Edinburgh University Footlights is a musical theatre group that puts on two shows annually. This spring, they perform The Wedding Singer’s musical from 16 to 19 February at the Rose Theatre. The production team, including director Katie Slater, producer Aisling Anderson and musical director Rebecca Kelly, and cast members Chris Kane, Lucy McClure, Mitchell Collin and Megan LeBrocq, speak with The Student about their experience staging this show.

What do you want to achieve with this show?

Katie Slater: The main thing is to have the most fun possible and for it to be a massive bit of escapism. But we also want to achieve deeper, emotional moments with the acting, where people can feel something, which I think we have managed to do.

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What have been the biggest challenges in putting on this show?

Aisling Anderson: We were supposed to originally have our show at Pleasance Theatre. But they failed their covid ventilation test not long ago and so it was deemed unsafe to have productions at Pleasance. So Covid ruined us in that respect, and I was running around panicking, trying to find a new venue, which was so stressful. It came so out of the blue that the venue was not secure. It was just pulled out from under our shoes, and we had a cast and a show but nowhere to put it, which was such a shambles. The uncertainty and the constant fear that you work so hard, but the show might not get ahead is scary.

What have you learned by doing this musical, in what ways has it challenged you personally?

Chris Kane: I have not been in many shows that involved much dancing. So, being on this show has pushed me, and I have learned a lot about dance. It really helped that Ioana Bacrau is such a great choreographer and could help us so much with the dancing. Katie Slater, our director, who studies drama, has been able to give us many tips for the acting, which a lot of people wouldn’t have heard about.

Megan LeBrocq: With this production, there are so many different courses people are doing. But we all came together with this shared interest. I have learned a lot about peoples’ techniques just from having such a varied cast. We all have different backstories, but it doesn’t really matter, as this is a very supporting environment. We are all doing this together and learn at the same time.

Has doing this influence your ideas for the time after University

Aisling Anderson: For me, producing started because I knew I liked being organised and bossy. Doing this show in such a professional environment, though, got me excited in thinking about this as a potential career. This doesn’t feel like a student theatre group, this doesn’t feel like a hobby we are doing on the side. This musical is being performed at the Rose Theatre, which is a proper established theatre. We had to market it and the cast is beyond talented. It feels very real to me, and this is what encouraged me to think about it as a potential career option.

Chris Kane: It has definitely opened my eyes in that it has shown me that this is an option to consider. Doing this gives a very real and honest view of what this kind of life is like, which has been very nice and refreshing.

How do you balance between Uni and the show?
Katie Slater: We are not good at balancing it. We get our Uni work done and we’re good at it, but everyone puts their absolute everything into the show. Many people had very short nights, for which I am very grateful and hope it pays off.

Mitchell Collins: It is difficult to balance university and rehearsal times, but it also helps you a lot to prioritise. Sometimes during rehearsals, when we know we might not be needed, we can pull out our laptops and work. The production team has always been very supportive if we had to take the time off and focus on our studies. We wouldn’t be in this society if we weren’t at this university to study.

Aisling Anderson: As this is a passion for me that I want to bring out of Uni, it’s ok if I am working more, sleeping less, and panicking more. It’s fine because it is all going to work out in the end, and it will be phenomenal.

What are your favourite parts? Which songs can the audience look forward to the most?

Lucy McClure: My favourite parts are the big dancing scenes and group numbers, where everyone is involved in. They create such an energy that we hopefully will pass on to the audience.

Aisling Anderson: Even on the worst day of my life, when I watch the song “Single”, I am crying with laughter. The scene is hilarious in that you would never see these boys standing in a line wiggling their bums in front of an audience – unless it was this song. They let loose and have so much fun. This brings a smile to my face every single time, without a shadow of a doubt.

Ioana Bacrau: “All about the Green” is such an intriguing song from a dance perspective because there are a lot of different extras to play around with. But “Saturday night in the city” is also one of my top-favorites. In this production we ended up adding more and more to the choreography and text, which is really exciting. A song which always elevates me is “The Finale”. There is just so much going on and it is a great pick-me-up.
Rebecca Kelly: One of the wonderful things that the show affords us is that everyone in the cast has a moment where they are front and centre, showing off what they can do. I don’t have a favourite moment; seeing everyone shine individually is best.

Promotional Image of The Wedding Singer, Courtesy of The Edinburgh University Footlights