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It's a fine life
By Chris Stone
Jerseyman Robert Le Maistre is making sure all runs smoothly on the West End muscial, Oliver!
Robert Le Maistre makes sure things run smoothley
Oliver! is one of the highest profile shows in the West End, thanks to the TV programme I’d Do Anything, and the casting of Rowan Atkinson as Fagin.
It’s sold out for weeks in advance, and has had rave reviews.
And one of the stage managers making sure it all runs smoothly is Robert le Maistre, from Jersey!
Rob’s had a busy time since he left Hautlieu. He worked at the Arts Centre and the Opera House, which he says was invaluable experience for him.
Getting into RADA
Then came the challenge of being interviewed for RADA for a technical stage course. His work in Jersey helped secure him a place at this famous drama school, where he remembers grafting for up to a hundred hours a week!
Rob Le Maistre outside the stage door
But he says that was just what he needed to learn ahead of going professional. His first major job was working on the show Avenue Q, which he helped to open in the West End.
From there, he went on to stage manage the Lion King, a world famous show just across the road from the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane where Oliver! is now showing.
His duties in Oliver! include looking after the legions of children who are in the workhouse and Fagin’s gang, operating and moving parts of scenery and maintaining the props.
Dodger’s cane, Widow Corney’s keys and Fagin’s handkerchiefs all fall under Rob’s care; and he’s even waved dog biscuits behind the set to keep the real life Bullseye in line!
To run such a big show, there are four Assistant stage managers, of which Rob is one, two Deputy stage managers, and one Stage Manager; the boss! Rob says he’s still relatively low on the ladder, but hopes the knowledge he’s gaining from Oliver! will help him climb higher.
Oliver stars Jodie Prenger and Rowan Atkinson
Having watched the show, with a huge amount of staging coming on and off from the wings, lifts going up and down from the floor, trapdoors, scenery appearing from above and hundreds of props in every scene, I reckon he’s doing very well.
So what’s next for Rob? He’s very realistic about the challenges of being in the theatrical business, but now has the experience and contacts to be able to stay afloat. He told me it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.
If you’ve got a good CV behind you, it’s often the case that someone you’ve worked with before will be able to recruit you into your next job.
In the meantime, with all the excitement of driving one of the biggest shows in the West End, it is indeed a fine, fine life!
last updated: 10/04/2009 at 11:31
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