Rehearsals for Gaggle Babble's The Forsythe Sisters

Instead of allowing themselves to take a breather after the success of The Bloody Ballad of Mary Maid (Winner of the Brighton Fringe Emerging Talent, WhatsOnStage Musical Theatre Network Best Musical Winner and Best Music in a Musical), Gaggle Babble have launched straight into their next project Apparitions of Spirits with The Forsythe Sisters. Taking place in the rather lovely Norwegian Church in Cardiff Bay, the show follows the Spiritualist act of two Sisters, Morven and Maia, demonstrating their contact with the unknown, which becomes overrun with unwanted Ghosts, Grief and Death. If that wasn't enough for you, you can come see this Ghostly musical thriller on All Hallow's Eve, as well as on the 30th of October and the 1st November.

Katy Owen, Adele Thomas, Hannah McPake, Lucy Rivers, Simon Ludders, and Oliver Wood

Over the past three weeks or so, I have had the pleasure of Assistant Directing on the show (thanks to Director Adele Thomas), and The Forsythe Sisters has really come into its stride. Much credit has to go to Lucy Rivers and Hannah McPake, founders of Gaggle Babble, who have tirelessly continued to develop the script and songs between actually rehearsing and devising the show. They are joined by the rather excellent actors Simon Ludders, Oliver Wood, and Katy Owens, with Dan Lambert aka Johnny Cage joining the cast as Death.

With a week to go, it's interesting to look back on where the script began. Although the script has moved away from sisters who are 150 years old, losing the haunted man who throws himself off the roof of the church, and no longer having the sexually repressed priest's encounter with a vampiric ghost, a lot of the tone and core of the show feels the same; it's become more focused and yet bigger and better. Lots of little decisions have come to fruition, and the theatrical reality of the piece is really satisfying, especially with the climax of the piece.

Hannah McPake and Lucy Rivers as the Forsythe Sisters

Director Adele Thomas's encyclopaedic knowledge of films has backed up talks about the tone of the show, and the phrase 'What Would Tarantino Do?' came into frequent use in the early development of the script. Where Bloody Ballad took its cue from 60's B movies, The Forsythe Sisters has looked to the greats of the 80's, with a bit of inspiration from the likes of the Breakfast Club, a touch of Ferris Bueller, and of course, the one and only Ghostbusters.  One lunchtime was taken up by talks of which Horror films are proper Horror films: Nightmare on Elm Street is, The Ring is, Night of the Living Dead is, but The Shining and Psycho didn't make the cut. Check out Peter Bradshaw's controversial selection here.

The all important warm up games have been Pat Ball and Big Booty, and the cast even ended up creating their own game, And You Sir - a Restoration cross between volleyball and tennis, where each pass is punctuated by a light and polite 'And You Sir'.

Although a lot of the time has been spent on the structure of the story and bringing the characters to life, The Forsythe Sisters is knitted together by the songs and sounds of the piece. Everything becomes heightened by the eerie, folky songs: the tales of sisters tied together, bound in flames, of opening a door to the spirit world, of a grey lady grieving her husband lost at sea. The tense atmosphere is completed by the bangs, creaks and mysterious sounds in the church, then Dan Lambert's dark bluesy tones in the closing songs round everything up, and are just such a pleasure to listen to.

 Spooning with Katy Owen

I've had a great time, and I'm so glad I'm able to be a little part of it. I've learnt a ton, and it's been brilliant to see so much passion from everyone for the show. It totally affirms that this is what I want to do, and I'm already looking to where I can go train to get to the same level as everyone involved in the show.

You can find the rest of the rehearsal photo's on my blog or on my Pinterest.

Apparitions of Spirits with the Forsythe Sisters shows at the Norwegian Church in Cardiff Bay at 30th (8.00) and 31st of October(7.30 & 10.00), and the 1st November (8.00). You can buy tickets from Chapter here.

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