I’m Amy and I run a musical production company with my friend Becky, called Ruby Red. We’re producing Rock of Ages at the Maltings in Ely this July. This is our blog. We’re giving you an Access All Areas pass to look behind the curtain of Ruby Red and really see how we do things. Every week from now until Rock of Ages we’ll give you a little insight into what we’ve been doing and each time we’ll focus around a particular topic. Follow us on Facebook or buy show tickets here.
Mark A. J. Checkley. What a legend. Who is he? Well, he has a very important role in Rock of Ages. He’s our musical director (MD). Becky and I have worked with Mark for a few years now (Becky probably longer than me) and we were delighted when he said yes to being part of our production team. He was one of the first people we recruited after we applied for the license and he seemed really excited to be part of the project.
When we were thinking about doing Rock of Ages we went to see another amateur version of it in Wisbech. Mark was MD’ing this one too and we just fell in love with it. Apparently so did Mark because he jumped at the chance to do it again, less than six months later. The best part of this story is that Mark has just started rehearsals for Rock of Ages with ANOTHER company. We affectionately call that Rock of Ages III. So is he mad, or just passionate? Or is Rock of Ages an incredible show that you just can’t resist? Probably a bit of all of those.
So what does being an MD mean? For Mark it means teaching the songs to the cast; a difficult, relentless task which (for this show at least) takes time and precision. Mark’s enthusiasm never wains and it’s admirable. He goes above and beyond to make sure the cast have what they need. Let’s just talk about his website. Mark records every singing harmony and uploads them onto his this site. That’s every single part from every single song. It’s impressive. The cast can then just log on and listen to their part. They can download them onto their phone or burn them to a CD. How amazing is that???
Over the years I’ve seen how developing technology has changed the way people learn their parts in rehearsals. Note bashing at the piano was the original way, and that still happens (week in, week out!) but in recent years I’ve switched to using my phone to record my parts – and I thought that was advanced! Mark is something else. Who’d have thought a local theatre could be so modern!?
As well as teaching all of the songs Mark also acts as our rehearsal pianist (see the video above for an example of his enthusiasm!) and he also puts the band together, leads them AND plays on the night. It’s quite a job.
To see Mark and his incredibly talented band in action make sure you get your tickets!