Another hard week, but there was time for a bit of socialising.
After spending several hours on Sunday hunting around Oxford for various bits and bobs, then printing off lettering, it didn’t really feel like I’d had a day off. In fact since rehearsals started I think I may have only managed one day off, however I finished work at 2.30am on that day and most probably did some knitting too for the show!
I was first on the bus in Oxford and last off when it reached Chippy and as soon as I was back in the theatre there were things to be getting on with. The crew were meant to be rehearsing the scene changes before the actors arrived to work various bits, but they seemed to have found other things to do instead which didn’t bode well for the dress rehearsal in the evening. More things were finished off, parts of the show were worked on by the cast and all looked pretty good in time for the dress which was to be photographed.
You would think that dress rehearsals should improve each time you do one, in an ideal world they should. But there is also a chance that things can go wrong, better in a dress than a performance. This dress was one of the latter! When going from a restaurant scene to the interior of a pyramid and only having 3 mins 45 to do it, everything needs to be just so backstage and everyone ready. On Saturday the crew had laid off parts of the set for me to work on, Monday morning these should have been reset for the dress, but two large flats had ended up being the wrong way round. With an audience of ushers in watching we had to wait several minutes before the curtain opened and things did not look quite right on stage.
The next scene had to be stopped as a part of the scenery hadn’t been tied off correctly and later on another scene change needed attention to avoid a possible incident. On scene had to be reset so that photos could be taken again. Quick changes had been missed too. So by the end of the day everyone was relieved that there was still another day before a paying audience were in.
Tuesday and the scene changes were talked through, tried, reworked, things moved around in the wings, alterations to costumes were made, scenes worked on and all the time Jo the prop maker was still working through her huge list of makes. In the evening everyone crossed their fingers for a more successful dress. The hard work by all during the day paid off. Every change of set and costume worked to time and nobody was put at risk in the process. Just about everyone made it to the pub for a drink followed by a few of us heading for a curry.
Wednesday, preview day. I was in early to paint a few bits, hoping the paint would be dry before anyone got close to it in floating costumes. Jo still worked away in the garden shed producing more and more props for the auditorium scene and making us a less phallic lamp!
The previews were full of the older population of Chippy. A lot of grey hair meant the Dame found it hard to single out a dark stranger to take a fancy to. Only a few small things didn’t go quite according to plan, but that’s what previews are for. A couple of quick notes were done on stage before we headed to the pub for a well earned drink.
Thursday. My list had only a few items left on it. So I treated myself to a lie in followed by a bath, my first in possibly four years. I only managed to get slightly wrinkly before I packed away all my possessions at my digs and headed to the theatre. The morning I spent putting a few finishing touches to things and helping Jo out. Rehearsals had been called during the afternoon so that a few cuts could be made. One of the cast has been feeling not so good for the last week and had been doing her best to avert becoming ill. On Wednesday you could tell she was holding back her singing as much as possible to preserve it for Press Night. So once the cuts had been gone through, rehearsals proceeded so that one of the understudies could take some of the pressure off her. Fazil the snake would be voiced by the understudy and lyrics in songs were spread to other cast members. This was done very well, if you didn’t know I suspect you’d not have noticed.
Mick got the bus over to Chippy and we met up in Checkers the pub next door for something to eat before the show. The last few jobs had been completed with a couple of hours to go and Jo was busy sorting out her petty cash. Unfortunately just after we’d finished our pie and stew the sight of Susie the Company Stage Manager walking quickly past the window meant someone was needed. There were other people in the pub she might have needed but she turned straight towards us. Before she could say a word I knew what the problem was likely to be and had already stood up to leave Mick to finish his pint on his own. One piece of scenery gets pushed off stage very close to a smoke machine which has sharp corners, I’d already patched up the canvas a couple of times, so went straight to the labelled pot of paint that was needed. It only took a couple of minutes to sort and show Susie the labelled paints waiting for any such occasion.
The show went very well, apart from one flown piece of scenery not quite reaching it’s dead! Hopefully someone will take the time to check that out. Lots of laughter, singing, shouting, sweet catching. Mick, even though he always says he won’t join in, did and found the demise of the badie very amusing. Drinks in the bar followed the show along with pizzas delivered from one of the many fast food outlets in Chippy. After a couple of hours celebrating we got a lift back into Oxford with the director who managed to get his car as close to our mooring as possible, his car boot full of my possessions.
A lot of hard work, over months, but a very enjoyable experience.
I’m now looking forward to having cups of tea in bed, knitting in front of the stove and gradually making our way back up the Oxford Canal (when stoppages allow). 3mph calls again with a purring cat on my knee and sharing a box or two of wine with my boy Mick.
Normal blog writing will resume, as soon as I’ve had a kip.
0 locks, 2 buses, 3 dress rehearsals, 1 axe, 3 mummies, 2 planes, 1 very loud dame, 1 curry, 6 moonlit leeks, 1 emergency repair, 1 very jolly, bright and loud panto, 1 happy cat, 2 boaters back on board.