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The Sounds of Off the Ground!

This week's blog post is one you can listen to as well as read!


Over the past week, we've been connecting with our members, old and new, to chat about some OTG memories. Over the years we've been fortunate to have put on a vast array of productions across a range of venues, with a multitude of talented people. Each of these people, these places, these shows, carry with them a unique set of memories for those involved. We wanted to find out what those memories where. More than that, we wanted to know if there was a song or a piece of music that evoked those memories.


The result has been quite overwhelming, and genuinely lovely to put together. We are now thrilled to say we have a sizeable 'OTG Memories' playlist together on Spotify, which you can access by following the link below. We hope that it brings a smile or a memory back to you too, OTG-related or otherwise!


*** WARNING: Some of the songs contain explicit content ***


Click here to access the OTG Memories playlist!


*** WARNING: Some of the songs contain explicit content ***


Below, you can read about a selection of the songs that made the playlist, as well as the reasons and memories as to why, from the people that submitted them.




Connor Wray:

Calvin Harris - Feel So Close


"I cannot hear this song and not feel warm. Summer sun, good friends and incredible experiences. Back when I did my first tour, Alice in Wonderland, about ten years ago, my best mate Mat was also on his first full tour. It was a completely new experience for both of us. If being able to travel around the UK & Ireland playing the Cheshire Cat in a lycra bodysuit wasn't exciting and interesting enough, seeing beautiful places and meeting beautiful people, then being able to experience it all with my best mate - sharing headphones or using a splitter, made it all the better. This was our song that summer and I will never forget it."


Queen - The Show Must Go On


"The memory of this one is somewhat bittersweet. Outdoor theatre brings a unique set of challenges with it. The biggest of these is the weather, particularly during a Great British Summer... We had a performance at Gawthorpe Hall in Burnley at 6:30pm. At 6:15pm we had a soaked cast, determined to do their thing. We had a drenched, hardcore northern audience waiting for us to get on stage. The rain was torrential, it felt as though the storm was circling just around the ground we were waiting to perform on. Eventually, we had to make the call to cancel the show on safety grounds. I say 'we', but it was the first time that I'd really had to make a difficult, unpopular decision in a managerial role. It was, for the first time, fully my responsibility and this was the first time I'd really felt the weight of that. Already soaked, I went on stage to announce the bad news to the audience while Pete tried to protect the sound equipment, which was still optimistically running through our pre-show playlist. As I was stood on stage, shouting against the elements, the rain suddenly stopped. The sun started to peep out again and all we could hear was The Show Must Go On by Queen blaring out behind me. Pete swears he didn't do it on purpose, I'm not so sure."



Dan Meigh:

Terrorvision - Oblivion


"This reminds me of our first ever tour (it was only recently out then!) and because it makes me think of the first one then I start thinking about all the others and the people we've spent some great times with. There's basically a montage going on in my head when I hear this."



Daniel Cambridge:

Dr Hook - When You're in Love with a Beautiful Woman


"My first tour was a 60's musical version of A Midsummer Night's Dream. We followed it a few years later with a 1970's musical version of The Merry Wives of Windsor. Merry Wives of Windsor is quite a weak play when it comes to character, plot and laughs so we made the best of it by packing it with stupid gags and exploiting the fact that we had some really decent singers. One of those with a belting voice is Steve Lunt. When you're in Love With a Beautiful Woman sticks in my mind because Steve, who was Playing Master Page, learned the lyrics wrong. He had misheard "fair-weather friends" as "fair feathered friends"! We thought he was joking around in rehearsals, but when he sang it on the first night we realised he'd just misheard it, and then he got quite cross when we corrected him. It led to us changing the lyric "maybe it's just an ego problem" to "maybe it's just an Eagle problem" and I still sing it as "fair Feathered friends" whenever I hear the song."



Eric Blakemore:

Mogwai - Sine Wave


"This was always a favourite way, way, way back when, particularly if we were doing any relaxation/focusing exercises! Usually 'lying on a beach, the tide coming in' and the song builds to a crescendo which peaks at the moment when the water would cover you completely and you'd have to hold your breath for as long as possible before it subsided and the tide went out!


The Kilkennys - Chandelier Shop


"This is a less PC choice - essentially a hilariously rude Irish ditty we used to play in the van on the long drives to Cork! Haha, we found it on a random CD I bought on one of our many 'garage lunchtime, €5, 30 minute pit stops'"



Ciara Durnford:

MEUTE - You & Me (Flume Remix w/ Disclosure)


"The entire cast dancing in the sunshine on the Sinbad stage at our final venue at Killyleagh, after one of the funniest summers, with the best people."



Phil Rayner:

TIEKS, Chaka Khan & Popcaan - Say a Prayer


"For me, a song that always reminds me of Off the Ground has to be 'Say a Prayer' by TIEKS, Chaka Khan and Popcaan.  2019 in Killyleagh Castle, we'd arrived late the night before from Philipstown and had our last show of the tour the next day, headlining a festival that was housed in the castle grounds. You'd have thought that arriving late and having a show the next day would make us make the sensible choice of going to sleep, but no. We had, what we consider to be, a normal night of partying in the castle. The next morning I woke up about 10, regretting the decision to drink as I remembered the tug of war the cast was taking part in at the festival was due to start in a mere few hours. 10 o'clock on the castle grounds and we could already hear the hustle and bustle of the festival starting to get going in the field next to us. As we set the stage up and got our tech ready, Tomo, our director, plugged music into the speakers, turned it up and proceeded to play 'Say a Prayer'. I don't know if it was because it was the end of the tour, or the night before's alcohol, but I took a minute and kind of looked around and just took everything in. It's times like that when you realise what you're doing and how crazy tour can be, we'd been all over Ireland and the UK performing a Shakespeare show and we were about to finish off a festival, in a castle, to what was about 500 people. You realise how lucky you are to have done it. I'll always be grateful to Off the Ground for taking me along with them, even if I did leave a hoodie in the castle."



Ellie Hurt:

Yma Sumac - Mambo!


"We used this song to open Sinbad. The best opening and lip sync EVAAA"



Mat Oliphant

Calvin Harris - Feel So Close


"Having been a part of the OTG family since the tender age of 12, it’s safe to say I could compile a whole playlist of songs myself! With so many to choose from that were included in shows, be it my shouty German rendition of “Tell Him” by The Exciters or my abysmal murdering of Elaine Page’s part in “I Know Him So Well” it’s hard to pick a favourite. Although one thing I know for certain is that I’m going to skip past any song that Jamie choreographed an impossibly high-energy dance routine to for us to perform every night on increasingly more treacherous terrain - my knees still don’t work properly thanks to “The Caucus Race” in Alice and I still wince slightly whenever Electro Swing comes on. So, I’m not going to choose a song from a show. Instead, I’m going to share with you a tune that transports me back to a very specific point of my OTG journey. The summer of 2011, I’m 18 years old and it’s my first time touring with the professional company. We’ve completed the English leg of the Alice in Wonderland Tour, we’ve packed the van and Brenny has finally arrived so we’re all good to depart West Kirby at unholy o’clock in the morning and make our way to the Ferry. After a tumultuous final year of school, my first heartbreak still raw and the uncertainty of A-Level results looming its safe to say my head was a shed. Only one thing was gonna help - sick choons - and there was one man who knew that was the truth. My bestest bud, who was sat next to me at the back of the minibus and proceeded to produce a double headphone converter from his bag so we could listen to our favourite bangers together! (He’d later manage to somehow lose aforementioned converter before we even boarded the ferry, a mystery that still baffles us to this day. But we bought another one on the boat.) However, before it vanished into thin air, we did manage to blast out one tune and it’s the memory of that song that sticks with me to this day. So here’s the song that reminds me of my first ever trip to Ireland where no matter how uncertain or complicated things in my life seemed - I knew I could play this, turn to my best mate and for 4 minutes it’d feel like “there’s no stopping us right now”. This one’s for you Mr Wray."



Eleanor Martin:

Saint Motel - My Type


"Whenever I hear this I'm reminded of my last couple of tours and setting up for the show. Always makes me smile."



Felipe Pacheco:

Various


"My life with OTG has been littered with absolute bangers. And that, if you don’t mind me saying, is a glorious sentence.

I cannot reminisce about the past five years of touring without my thoughts trailing to The Mariachi's version of ‘Don’t you want me baby’ we used in Zorro, for example. (Originally released by the Human League, the song was regrettably and very much royally trumped by The Mariachis.) Or the minibus ‘three-song-shuffle’ game we play - blasting Pete’s favourite: ‘Call Me Al’ by Paul Simon, or a personal favourite: ‘Little Lion Man’ by Mumford and Sons. Songs belted out by the entire company as we make our way back to the campsite for the evening. Zorro was a particularly special tour for me, and my ‘tour song’ that year was definitely ‘Are You With Me’ by Lost Frequencies. I’m not sure why! I think it’s because the opening lyrics sound like they were written for a soft-House version of Zorro. Also, the song itself pierces through my heart, leading a golden thread of movement and feeling through my nervous system. I know. Even I didn’t know I felt this strongly about it until that last sentence.

But. Last year was also a special tour. It marked a moment of vitality and invigoration for the company as Connor took the reigns as Executive Director. I was playing a dream role (Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream) and had just graduated, ready to embark into the weird and wonderful world of the arts. And if it was a special tour, it required a special song. For those that know me, you know there are few artists that could ever come close to the behemoths that are James Blunt and Mumford and Sons. One such artist, though, starts with Sean, and rhymes with Nepal. You guessed it. Budda-bang-bang. The energy in Sean Paul’s tunes epitomises everything about tour. Love for all, faith in yourself, the show, the company, and a can-do attitude for the torrential rain coming your way at Philipstown, Co. Louth.

So, one of my fondest memories of last year is showing the song ‘Trumpets’ by Sean Paul to Connor. I knew he would appreciate it, and the glint in his eye when he first heard it made me very, very excited. Connor then mischievously shared it with the director of the show that year, Tomo. I will never forget Tomo’s smile as he looked up at me from his chair. Surely it was an irresistible temptation to include it in the show. But at this point, I still didn’t know if it would make the final cut… Fast-forward maybe a couple of days, and I was sitting in the van coming back from picking up stuff from B&Q (other hardware stores are available). Tomo was driving, and Dan, our artistic director was in the van too. Tomo asked me to play the song, and my heart was pounding. They already knew of my love for songs like ‘Danza Kuduro’, and I wondered whether they’d indulge me this time round. I got it up, and pressed ‘play’. Bubbly, bubbly. With the van’s speakers at full capacity, and the MDF we had picked up vibrating with the deep, deep bass, I started dancing. Tomo kept his eyes on the road, of course, and Dan just started laughing. That was it, it was the song we choreographed the ending to the play to. And what could be better than ending the play as Puck, delivering that final monologue, before blasting and dancing to Sean Paul? What could be better than seeing the audience’s faces - portraits of confusion and elation as they joined us for a dance? Than taking a bow with the younger members of the audience – the reason we do these shows? What could be better? (Except for maybe James Blunt?)

I know it’s a niche memory, and dare I say it, quite a niche song. But I love this company, and all its years of mad songs, with all my heart. Here’s to the future! To many more bangers."



Matty Gradden:

The Beatles - Ob-la-di


"Nick, being our own personal, walking, talking, gorgeous juke box, would whip this banger out in Sherkin and have a pub full of of Irish Folk on their feet dancing and singing with us. In short: Nick + Guitar = Party."


The Dubliners - Leaving of Liverpool


"A Song that Dan always sings in Lisnavagh. It was always joined in by new and old when it got to the chorus. ‘When I return united we will be (WE WILL BE!)’ it brought everyone together and that sing along is always special round the fire."


Woodkid - Run Boy Run


"Finally, a more niche one... Run Boy Run, which we used in creature. A total power track, the whole cast always lost their minds when it came on. It was the moment in the piece everyone went beast mode and I’ll always remember that piece because it was the first proper physical thing I did and, really, I think it is the clear starting point for my adult OTG story as well."



Jordan Connerty:

Sonic Unleashed - Endless Possibility


"This is my song choice because after the OTG tour the possibilities were never ending and this song also reminds me that there are endless possibilities. I wanna say to everyone who was a part of the Midsummer's tour: 'thank you and I hope to work with you again soon.'"




Jake Szuplewski:

Trashmen - Surfin' Bird


"This one always takes me back to a YT performance of The Birds. Way, way back in 2010!"


Mark Ronson - Uptown Funk


"I have multiple memories of Dan using the “stop” in this song in walkabouts to make everyone, as suggested, stop. Just feels nostalgic!"


Steve Miller Band - Abracadabra


"This one’s from Aladdin in 2015 we did a magic dance to it from Abanazar."



Pete Darwent

The A Team Theme Tune


"Granted, like most things, I haven't put much thought into this, and have just gone with my gut reaction. The first thing that popped into my head is obviously Ireland, as it has played many a part in my Off the Ground life. There was a particular moment on my first ever tour, en route to our first venue and it was a new venue (turned out to be a very mental venue with a donkey braying and all sorts, but hey ho that's theatre life for you). As we got closer to the venue, it was a beautifully sunny day, the mini bus was full to the brim of actors who were clean, mainly fresh-faced bar the obvious hangovers. Then, it was someone's brilliant idea to put on The A Team theme song to get us all pumped up. Everyone joined in and it was a jolly good laugh, tally ho, pip pip and all that jazz. I have many more memories, so come back for more in another blog and maybe, just maybe, I won't write it on such a 'whim.'"



Chris Tomlinson:

Saint Motel - My Type


"Closing Jason & the Argonauts on this number was always one of my absolute highlights. I could watch this show on repeat. The adaptation from Andy Byron was masterful. Had me in stitches. From Joel's elastic face squished in Connor's hands, reminders of Greek classics mashed with free style rap and spitting bars.... 'you say Golden I say Fleece... Golden.....NO!' Or maybe Ben Bridson openly laughing aloft a rickety wooden ladder, or maybe the memory of a fairly detailed group sword fight made impossibly hard and extremely dangerous by applying morph suits that do NOT aid sight.... or maybe just the simple pleasure of Josie relieving her full bladder in GwyninininininininininiOG. So many memories from that one hit number!"


Cole Porter - Anything Goes


"The closing of Much Ado and singing Anything Goes. Love that number and loved that show."



Ben Bridson:

Saint Motel - My Type


"The relief of knowing the show was over and nobody had died!"


Nick Crosbie:

Ultravox - Vienna


"From my first tour, The Musketeers, this song was used in the show. Anytime I hear it, I have memories of being in a random field with a stinking costume on, being slightly sweaty, covered in mozzie bites with about 100 people watching us. Still, I found myself feeling quite content with it all."


The Beatles - Hey Jude


"For a couple of reasons. That one time when the Jolly was packed and we did a little impromptu gig there. And the other time when we tried to do it in the Islander’s and got heckled front he from town “You’re so f***ing shit”.

Light and shade y’know."




Daniel Vilela:

Lord Huron - The Night We Met

&

Jorja Smith ft. Stormzy - Let Me Down


"It’s from when we did Hamlet before finishing school and A levels, so a busy time with uncertainty around the future, but doing the play with everyone was a blast and left a feeling of personal accomplishment. We used the songs in the play and they're nostalgic songs anyway, but now reminds me of doing it and the fun we all had back then before leaving school."



Grace Goulding:

T'Pau - China in Your Hand


"What a bonkers song for a bonkers show. It totally threw the cast initially when we'd choreographed to proper baroque music but it turned out to be a banger and a brilliant crowd pleaser!"



Kathryn McGurk:

The Cranberries - Linger


"This is my memory. Just that last day. Top of a castle. 400 people. Sun shining."



*** WARNING: Some of the songs contain explicit content ***


If you'd like to access the full playlist of 'OTG Memories' songs, just click here!


*** WARNING: Some of the songs contain explicit content ***

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