The Sheffield Theatres Christmas musical Anything Goes is just weeks away. Theatre correspondent Nick Ahad reports.
In the theatre world partnerships are a vital part of the machine that whirrs and ticks.
Sometimes partnerships yield results much greater than the sum of their parts and in other cases, much less. In Sheffield three years ago, gold was struck. The combination of director Daniel Evans and choreographer Alistair David was expected to be good – both have impressive reputations separately – but few could have predicted just how good.
It was 2012 and My Fair Lady was the first Crucible Christmas production on which Evans and David had collaborated. The moment that crystallised just how good the combination was came at the end of the dance number Get Me to the Church on Time. The whole company of My Fair Lady, en masse, collapsed to the floor, their bellies rising and falling, chests heaving with the effort they had expended.
Alistair David remembers the extraordinary reaction to that song. “Sitting in the audience watching it with everyone was particularly special,” he says. “The applause just went on and on, for minutes. It was really quite incredible.” It was also, I can attest because I was there that night, entirely deserved.
It really shouldn’t have been an enormous surprise when David was asked to return for the following Christmas show, last year’s Oliver!
“You never take it for granted,” says David when I ask if he thought he had the following Christmas show in the bag. “Not at all. I obviously hoped I would get to come back and work with Daniel again, but you never take anything for granted, especially in this business.”
Fortunately he was offered the job of choreographer for Oliver! the Christmas production at the Crucible last year. He proved My Fair Lady was not a fluke. The combination of Evans and David really does work as well as everyone thought.
The team is back together for the Crucible’s 2014 festive offering Anything Goes. “We have known each other for a long time, but our working relationship is still very new. I really admire the way that Daniel works so tirelessly at making the show the best it can be,” says David.
“We have the same sorts of ideas and the work is genuinely really collaborative. Sometimes choreographers and directors have a strange relationship where the directors think the job of the choreographer begins when the performers start dancing and the choreographer’s job finish when they start speaking. It’s really not like that with Daniel, we really do work very closely together.
“A director many years ago said to me that by the end of a show a choreographer and director should be finishing each other’s sentences and that’s how it is with me and Daniel.” There are two obvious questions. After My Fair Lady and Oliver! does David feel the team can keep the standards up and is the pressure on?
“Yes and yes,” he says.
“We work really well together and this is a really wonderful show. Of course, there is pressure, but I think that’s true of artists anywhere with success, comes pressure and responsibility and I have definitely felt that.
“But then you reach the point in the project and you feel like you know you’re going to pull it out of the bag.”
One year might be a fluke, two years is anything but. Anything Goes is a likely candidate to keep the winning streak going.
• Anything Goes is at the Crucible in Sheffield from November 28 to January 17, 2015.
• Tickets are available from the box office on 0114 2496000 or online at www.sheffieldtheatres.co.uk