Spotlight On… Choreographer of 9 to 5 The Musical, Chris Whittaker

9 to 5 will burst onto the scene at Upstairs at the Gatehouse Theatre, London from 30 August to 1 October 2017, book your tickets here: 9 to 5 Tickets

Read all about it here: 9 to 5

Chris Whittaker has choreographed the show and here he tells Break A Leg all about the process. 

How familiar are you with 9 to 5 The Musical and what will be your unique ‘stamp’ on the choreography for this incarnation?

It wasn’t a show I knew huge amounts about before I came on board with this production. I knew the obvious musical numbers (9-5 and Get Out and Stay Out) and I knew it was a big dance show, or at least has the potential to be. Having not seen any other versions of the show I have no previous choreography to try and emulate or compare my work to so I have free reign to do whatever I want with the choreography of the show.

Does the space influence your choices when you’re choreographing a show? 
Massively, from the set design to the layout of the seats it all has an impact on how I use the space and how I can achieve my vision of the show. For this version of the production we are staging it in the thrust (3 sided auditorium) which means I have to be constantly thinking of the view from all sides of the auditorium and check that no one side has been more favoured or neglected than another. It’s a challenge I really enjoy and makes the show even more interesting to work on.
Who are your personal inspirations?
In terms of my early career a big inspiration was Adrian Edmeades who was the choreographer I assisted for many years and who gave me so many wonderful opportunities.  As for the work of other choreographers, I have always loved the work of Matthew Bourne and his ability to tell a story through stunning pieces of dance and my biggest musical theatre inspiration is Peter Darling, his work is visually stunning and so intelligently put together. The “school song” from Matilda is one of the most incredible pieces of musical theatre staging I have ever seen, it’s such a wonderful combination of choreography, set design and direction that you can’t picture where one department finishes and the other starts.
Have you a favourite piece in your previous credits? 
Working on last Christmas’ production of Anything Goes was a true highlight, having brand new dance music written for the show and being able to create my own version of them was brilliant. Creating a new 4 minute dance break for the title song with amazing tappers made me so proud each time I watched them perform it.
What led you into a career as a choreographer? 
Like most choreographers I started out as a performer, became a dance captain and was lucky enough to have a choreographer who took me on to be his assistant on some amazing work, I was then offered a production to choreograph myself. This lead to another director asking me to work with them and I’ve been fortunate enough to keep working as a choreo ever since, I’m truly grateful for the amazing productions I’ve had the chance to work on in my short career so far and look forward to adding 9 to 5 to them.
Any advice for budding choreographers? 
Enjoy performing first. Don’t rush getting into choreography just because it’s somewhere you want to end up, the best choreographers are ones that have learnt and absorbed from the best around them. Be in the rehearsal rooms, see how mistakes are made and solved, learn how productions and ideas are put together and built through collaborations of directors, designers, MD’s and casts.

Finally why should everyone come and see 9 to 5 The Musical?

It’s a brilliantly uplifting and fun show with phenomenal cast performing some amazing songs. I can’t wait to get started on this production and think the team we’ve got together are all wonderful.
Thanks so much for the insight, Chris, I can’t wait to see what you’ve done with this fantastic show! I am expecting great things from the looks of rehearsals! 


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