The latest addition to the This Is Your Musical house band is drummer and drama teacher Catherine Herring! In this blog, we had quick chat about her music / improv experience and how she came to be in our flagship musical theatre show.
1. Tell us a bit about yourself, what’s your music and improv experience?
I’ve been teaching drama for 15 years and improvisation has always been at the heart of everything I do with my students. Music also plays a part in this. My partner’s a jazz musician and composer and I often use his compositions as starting-points for exploring themes, stories and emotions. My route into playing the drums was a bit of a weird one: I started a Philosophy of Education PhD back in 2013 and my area of research is exploring the link between rhythm and thought. I started drum lessons initially to look at rhythm purely from a theoretical perspective, but then I had a go at hitting stuff with sticks and was hooked.
2. How did you come audition for and be cast in This Is Your Musical?
My drum teacher stood-in for a couple of gigs with a concert band called Westerly Winds, who were looking for a new drummer. He suggested I go along to try out and, after looking at him quizzically for several minutes as my brain tried to process the ludicrous suggestion of me playing in public, I laughed in his face. Then he made some very valid points about the importance of playing with other musicians, getting in some of experience of performing etc etc and so I went along. It was there I met Jon, who was playing sax in the same band and was also the drummer with This is Your Musical at the time. When he left to do exciting jazzy things in Austria, he told me about the audition and I went because it a) sounded like a fun thing to do and b) scared me quite a bit. The audition was, indeed, really good fun. I jammed with Ian (TIYM’s musical director) for a few tunes of different styles and then improvised some songs and scenes with the cast. It went really well but I didn’t think for a second I’d get picked … though I did keep my fingers crossed all the way home.
3. How are rehearsals going so far?
I LOVE going to rehearsals. They’re so much fun and everyone in the ensemble has been really friendly, welcoming, and hugely supportive. I’m bowled over by their talent and creativity. On a couple of occasions I have forgotten myself and been reduced to fits of laughter, because the story lines have been utterly hilarious and totally surreal. I love watching everything unfold.
4. What’s it like to improvise drums in the house band?
It’s great to play so many different styles and all without knowing what’s going to come next. I get to use all my brushes, mallets, rods, sticks and other hitting tools, as well as various bits of percussion, which is very exciting. It’s allowing me to experiment with different sounds and is definitely sharpening my reflexes. In so many areas of my life I’m used to analysing all the options before making decisions. You can’t do that when you’re improvising for this: the show will have ended and the audience will have gone home in that time.
5.What are you most look forward to doing on the night of the show?
Ooooh, that’s a toughie, because I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I am looking forward to seeing what the audience is going to bring to the evening. I’m intrigued to know whose story is going to form the basis for the musical and what we all make of it. Hopefully it’ll be something that calls for a triangle.
This Is Your Musical is on Friday 22nd November at 8pm. Tickets are at £10 and can be purchased here.