At the end of 2017, I was invited to document 'The Wizard of Oz' by Sheffield Theatres through a series called 'Behind The Curtain.' Sheffield Theatres is one of my very favourite places to work and I was delighted to be back, following up my 'Julius Caeser' project from earlier in the year.
The idea was to once again immerse myself in the production; documenting the process from the first day of rehearsal all the way through to seeing the show on stage. I was given an unbelievable level of access: in the rehearsal room, during the tech, backstage during a show, and even in some of the dressing rooms.
I want to thank all of the actors, musicians, directors, stage management team, and members of staff at Sheffield for being so kind and accommodating to me. Without your support and patience this would not have been possible.
My aim was to get under the skin of the show. It is a massive, complicated production and everyone worked tirelessly to bring it to the stage. Hopefully the images represent this, but I also hope that they accurately share the feelings of fun, family, energy, and joy that surround the show, the company, and Sheffield Theatres as a whole.
Day One: Meet & Greet, Model Box, Choreography
Some of the principle cast had already had a few days together in London, but this was the first time that the full company and creative team were all in one room. As is tradition, representatives from every department at Sheffield Theatres came to the meet & greet - nearly everyone in the building! - to welcome the new company.
Robert Hastie, the director of 'Wizard' and the Artistic Director at Sheffield led proceedings and then presented the beautiful model box that had been made by the show's designer, Janet Bird. It was extraordinary, and I think it made everybody in the company even more excited about what was to come.
Rehearsals and Sitzprobe
I returned to Sheffield a few weeks later to photograph an afternoon of rehearsals, as well as the Sitzprobe in the evening. This was a real privilege for me: the Sitzprobe is a German phrase meaning 'seated rehearsal' and is the first time that the actors sing the show with the full band. Up until that point all the music has been a performed with only piano accompaniment so it is a thrill to hear it sung alongside such a massive sound.
The Tech period for 'The Wizard of Oz' was a long and exhausting process for the crew and company. I joined them on Day 5 to see the finishing touches being added - in spite of such long hours, everyone was on top form!
During the run, on a two-show day, I was given the chance to venture backstage with the cast. It gave me a fabulous insight into how hard everybody works behind the scenes: actors, crew, technicians, and stage management.
The ensemble have a frantic second half - barely a minute goes by without someone racing off stage to change costume!
Thanks again to everyone at Sheffield Theatres for giving me so much support. It has been such an enjoyable project and a tremendous opportunity to work on such a beautiful show.
All images belong to S R Taylor Photography and can only be used with my permission. For copies of any images please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org