Fastest Theatrical Production (twice!)
On the 16th February 2020 over 250 cast, crew and volunteers came together to attempt the Guinness World Record for the Fastest Theatrical Production, under the watchful eyes of official Guinness adjudicator Sofia Greenacre.
We opened the box of scripts at 7.30am to find 'The Wedding Singer' - a show none of the production team had ever seen or been involved in, and that only 1 out of a cast of 100 or so had been in. Tricky!
After just under 12 hours of rehearsals during which we cast the show, learned the entire show (including all the songs, choreography and dialogue) created, found and borrowed costumes for the whole show (including making Yarmulkes for the entire male cast, aprons for most of the girls, assorted wedding dresses and 80s icons) built the set, (including painted walkdown steps, custom designed and made Las Vegas signage, a dumpster and numerous wedding bouquets) rehearsed the band from scratch and even managed a professionally printed glossy programme for curtain up!
We lifted the curtain to a full house at the Macrobert 11hrs 59 minutes after we started to an absolutely phenomenal reception and our amazing cast, band and crew put on an incredible performance. At the end of the show Sofia took to the stage and announced we had succeeded. We were the Guinness World Record Holders for the Fastest Theatrical Production.
Lots of screaming, tears and pyrotechnics later we were presented with our certificate and had the loudest, most emotional rubber chicken theatre there's ever been.
This was our last live performance before the Covid-19 pandemic took hold.
Our story does not however end there, a few months into the pandemic, we found out that the world record had been taken by a group in Spain with a time of 11hours and 9 secs with a fairly famous Spanish straight play. We always knew our record would be broken at some point, that is after all why they exist and we fully congratulated them on their achievement.
Aiming for a time of 10 hours, we opened the box at 9.30am, to find the cult show 'Return to the Forbidden Planet' Although this time the songs were at least familiar (it's packed with massive 60s hits) the dialogue is Shakespeare, the harmonies hard (Good Vibrations notoriously never performed live in full by the Beach Boys) and the tech requirements massive - live video, pre-recorded feeds, flying tentacles, smoking klystron generators and much more.
The day itself was mad, with crew clearing out every shop in a 50 mile radius of silver fabric, files being sent digitally across Scotland to have tentacles that could be flown cut, painted and hung in time, our programme being created and harmony wrangling and choreography happening in every corner of the building that was covered by our specially installed cctv, while the band wrestled with the score and the principals sobbed over the Shakespeare.
The performance itself was a bit of a blur – our amazing cast looked like they’d been rehearsing for months. Choreography was together, harmonies were on point and energy levels were through the roof. Video was where it was supposed to be, tentacles and klystron generators flew in on cue and all of the ridiculously complicated Shakespearean lines were delivered absolutely exactly as written . . . . . or maybe not. Learning lines in that time I think is probably the hardest bit, but with people in the wings with books running lines in between each entry, and a heavy reliance on basic stage craft and an absolute impetus to keep going and keep performing, our principals rose to the challenge.
Planet ends with an on stage party – and at that point our official adjudicator Jack Brockbank joined us on stage. It’s all taken very seriously by Guinness and the announcement was no exception. However with confetti canons waiting in the wings and a certificate in hand he announced that we were officially world record holders - for the fastest theatrical production, in a time of 9hrs, 59minutes and 3 seconds.
The whole building went mad – for our first mainstage full house performance after Covid, it felt right to take it back, almost 2 years to the day since our original attempt.
The most common question I’ve been asked is if someone takes it off us will we attempt it again. (And our Spanish friends have been VERY vocal on social media about their intention to take it back) Having done it in such a fast time I am 100% confident someone will break the record – they are after all there to be broken (and the record has very few rules about how many cast you need, how much set, costume etc is required) I am however happy that for the size of cast, range of ages and scale of production we aim for, it’s not possible to do it any faster in a way that I’d be happy with. So when that day inevitably comes, although we’ll all no doubt be a little sad, we’ll offer our congratulations, and move on to whatever the next crazy challenge is for Rubber Chicken.
Photos from our 2020 attempt can be found here.
Photos from our 2022 attempt can be found here.