In just a few days time I sally forth on to stage once more, for the heady mix of Cole Porter, Shakespeare and general silliness which is Kiss Me, Kate.  This has been a rehearsal period which I will look back on with distinctly mixed feelings, as I have been involved with a number of major headaches both as part of the general run of things and as a member of the Society’s committee.  On the positive side, though, I have got to know some great new people, and got to know other people better, often greatly increasing my opinion of them as people and performers.  As I now pause before launching in to a hectic week in the theatre, I thought I’d take a step back and think about the things I’m looking forward to, in both a positive and a negative sense, over the next seven days.

The band call.  Tomorrow afternoon, we meet the orchestra for the first time, and find out how different they sound to the rehearsal pianist.  There are always interesting little bits in the orchestration, and singing through with the musicians for the first time is a very exciting few hours.

Too Darn Hot.  One of the best bits for me in the show is being one of the backing singers to the character of Paul as he sings ‘Too Darn Hot’.  This also means that I get to dance a wee bit, sometimes at the same time as fitting in my weird syncopated vocal bits.  The number is an absolute joy to perform from start to finish, and should be a highlight of the show.  Sexy and sassy, yet cool and laid back. Plus a few humorous moments as well, including the first time that I’ve ever had to catch someone in my arms on stage.

Speedy change.  One of the least wonderful things is going to be a relatively quick costume change I have from my character (Ralph) to a member of the chorus, accomplished in about four minutes.  That’s ages for a quick change, but I do also have to get from one side of the stage to the other and then into the auditorium during that period, ready to sing the first two notes of a number.  Solo.  And I have to change into a multi-part Venetian costume.  I know it can be accomplished as long as I remain calm, which is not something I’m good at. Someone had better be on hand with smelling salts!

Five minutes, you two!  And other similar lines.  There are several moments when my character comes on, says four or five words and goes straight off.  These parts are often quite amusing and can be milked for all they’re worth, but they’re also very difficult to do.  For a start, you have to remember to appear on stage at the right moment, and then you have to stay in character to deliver a completely banal line.  Which obviously takes magnificent skill!  Perhaps.

Lack of library.  I’m taking the whole week off work, as last time I did a show I got so ridiculously stressed and worried that I wasn’t much use to anyone.  So I shall attempt to sleep in, relax, catch up on reading for both pleasure and study and generally do things at my own pace.  The Library of Doom will get along without me very well.  In fact, my absence will make it a quieter place.

Backstage camaraderie.  One thing which has suddenly happened in the last week or so is that the whole bunch of us, from the leading players to the deputy stage manager, from the dancers to the production assistant, have suddenly become a unit, focused on the goal of getting this thing done.  This bodes well for the atmosphere backstage during the week, and I get on well with the people I’ll be sharing a dressing room with, which is also a good thing.  But I do hope it doesn’t slip into the false, horrible luvviedom of air kisses and ‘darling’s.  That really is one of the worst things about theatre, even at an amateur level.

I also have my wonderful clipboard to keep me company, my signature prop for this show, taking over from last year’s monocle.  I have some funny lines, and a repertoire of quizzical looks to exercise.  I get to shout and glare, sing and dance.  Hopefully laugh a lot.  And, at the end of the week, end with a huge sense of achievement.  If we’re lucky.  It’s another opening of another show.  Away we go!

Oh, and, if you’re in the Canterbury area next week (27th-31st March), why not head to the Marlowe Theatre and see the Singing Librarian live on stage!

  1. Sounds like you have lots of fun and excitement coming up! I hope you enjoy it all.

  2. It’s a good idea to take the week off. You can really settle in and enjoy it then.

    Break a leg!

  3. I have the feeling of being in a parallel universe. Experiencing similar things, but different. If you see what I mean. Hope it all goes well. That ‘quick change’ looks a tough one.

  4. The band call was absolutely wonderful. The orchestra seemed to enjoy the arrangements of the numbers, and there are many amusing touches, particularly in the percussion. It got us all very excited.

  5. Suddenly I had this very strong urge to get onto Travelocity and arrange travel to Canterbury immediately. I have a passport, I have a credit card, I have a need to go, I have a keeper waiting behind me with a white coat and an order to seize all credit cards,

    Seriously, have a wonderful time; it seems patently obvious that you will and the show will be splendid.

    Orchestras are always better than rehearsal pianists, unless they are abysmally bad. Then they should just be taken out in the alley and executed immediately. Glad yours is good.

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