We chatted with Air-Edel composer Rupert Cross about scoring for Theatre Royal Haymarket’s hit production of ‘Frozen‘, directed by Jonathan Munby and starring Surrane Jones, Jason Watkins and Nina Sosanya.
What did you enjoy most about working on the project?
There were so many things to enjoy, but the biggest thing I took away was that Frozen had such a wonderful team of Creatives. I hadn’t worked with Jonathan Munby before but he was such a joy to collaborate with – he knew precisely what he wanted and was very clear at explaining it. He’s also extremely funny. Chris Shutt (sound) I’ve had the pleasure of working with a lot and we have a really good connection and understanding when we collaborate together. Jon Clark (lights) I had also worked with in the past and I admire his work greatly. It was also a pleasure working with Bryony Lavery (writer) and Paul Wills (designer) for the first time.
The play features outstanding performances from Suranne Jones, Jason Watkins and Nina Sosanya – how did you approach scoring for such a dark and troubling story which features strikingly different characters and emotional states?
I tried to approach it with sensitivity. Jonathan had set up a lot of meetings and talks with people with direct relationships with the subject matter and I tried to attend these as much as I could. I also wanted to focus on the journey of the characters rather than dwelling in the dark spaces for too long. Lastly, because the quality of the actors was so exceptionally strong, I didn’t need to score anything that they were giving on stage – that was already covered. Sometimes all I needed to provide was a moment to take us out of one fantastic performance from one actor into another.
How did the two elements of composed score and sound design overlap?
Like all of my collaborations with Chris Shutt, most of the questions afterwards are “Of all the sound I heard just now, what was music composed by you, and what was sound created by Chris?”. That I find such a positive and complimentary question; I feel our work dovetails perfectly. He’s incredibly musical and utterly respectful of what music can achieve. He’s brilliant talented both as a sound designer and sound mixer, and quite often when we put both our offerings together in the space, both of us have a fairly immediate response to how they can co-exist. He also has an incredible sense of drama which really helps when I’m mapping out the journey of the music. Lastly, he also has a wicked sense of humour and constantly has me in hysterics.
What was the most challenging part of composing for this production?
I’m sorry and embarrassed to say but I can’t remember anything particularly challenging with ‘Frozen’. It was one of those projects where I felt completely supported from the beginning by the director and producers, was allowed the luxury of recording with some of London’s best players at Air Studios, and with actors as good as Suranne, Jason and Nina, all I had to concern myself with was not getting in the way of their incredible performances. That’s certainly not always the case, but here was one of those lucky jobs where everything seemed to fall in place.
What is involved when working on the tech week of a production?
During tech you are bringing everything together with every other department which can throw up a few surprises. I was lucky enough to get a lot of my music into the rehearsals, so luckily these surprises were rarely musical ones. But when you see a scene change for real on the stage, rather than in a rehearsal room, it can often change the length of what’s written. As such, a lot of tech is spent editing. Each room obviously has a different acoustic and there was a lot of remixing for the unique space of the Haymarket.
Were there any existing theatre/drama soundtracks that you drew inspiration from?
Not consciously. The main inspiration came from a meeting with Jonathan and Paul at Paul’s studio where the white card was extremely comprehensive, and his studio walls were covered from head to toe with a variety of images, colours, and points of reference. These immediately sparked ideas and I started composing as soon as I left.
Thanks so much, Rupert! ‘Frozen’ is running until Saturday 5th May – tickets available here.
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