Need a bit of bip-boo-diddle-diddle-oo in your life? TAMZIN LEWIS meets the composer who has all the diddles required for a first-rate kids’ show
YOU may think that a job where you don’t have time to sleep for three weeks might be a bit of a pain.
Not so for Katie Doherty, whose role as musical director for Northern Stage’s play for the under-sixes marks her favourite time of year.
“I had three weeks to write the music for The Little Detective Agency and the Case of the Festive Thief,” she says.
“I don’t sleep and it is very intense. It really is 24/7 and I have tended to pull all-nighters.”
Playwright Susan Mulholland completed her draft script for the Christmas show in July and it went through several stages before the rehearsal draft was completed.
Katie, 29, adds: “I don’t write any music until rehearsals start as a week into rehearsals the play could be a completely different beast.
“Also, I don’t know who has been cast until the first day of rehearsals. The cast have to sing the songs twice a day, every day, for a long time, so it is important that the tunes suit their vocal range.
“I talk to the cast about what they are comfortable with and try to get a sense of what they might be petrified about!”
Katie then has under a month to write original music before it is recorded in the studio and rehearsed by the cast whose live singing is accompanied by a backing track in the show.
She says: “I did some seat-of-the- pants rewriting in the last rehearsal to change ‘I want to be a hippopotamus’ to ‘I don’t want to be a hippopotamus’.
“And this year we did the recording in two days, but it is always skin of the teeth. We were still recording less than a week before the first performance of the show.”
While writing and rehearsing for Northern Stage in the daytime, Katie was also performing a show at Wallington Hall with the November Club during the evenings. Having composed the music for promenade show Teacups, Zebras and Dancing Kaisers, she was playing the part of Lady Trevelyan.
Katie, who now lives in County Durham, says: “It is only a four-week period so you know there is light at the end of the tunnel and I love doing the Christmas show.
“I really look forward to it and it is my favourite project of the year. Taking yourself back to being six again is good fun.”
She is aided by her nieces, Hollie, 12, and Ella, 10, who recorded backing vocals for last year’s show, Shhh... A Christmas Story, and again for The Little Detective Agency.