Something new every day


They say that you learn something new every day. This is probably true, even if it’s only something that’s seen, read or heard in the news, but I suspect we all forget many old things each day. I sometimes wonder whether new things push specific old things out of the memory banks and whether the volume of lyrics, tunes and useless facts about musicals stored in my head will one day have a disastrous effect, as something vital such as ‘alphabetical order’ or ‘how to breathe’ falls out of my ears as yet another song goes in. Recently, in addition to everything I’ve been learning for my various performing exploits, I have learned some more unusual things, which I thought I’d share.

1 – Bad posture can have painful results.On Monday, I woke up and my neck was very cross with me. The muscles in the right hand side of it were tight and angry, meaning that I could not fully turn my head to the left, and would get twinges of sharp pain when moving suddenly or when lying down. This was probably Officer Krupke’s responsibility, as it was noted in Sunday’s rehearsal that my Krupke posture was not going to do my back and neck any favours due to the way I was holding my shoulders. Or alternatively, I may have jarred the muscles when rehearsing the scene where Krupke falls over one of the Jets. Either way, a change of Krupke posture and some appropriate gentle stretching exercises gradually righted the problem. My advice – be careful, bad posture hurts!

2 – I cannot do an Irish accent. I really can’t. Monday evening was the first script read-through of Titanic, and one of the people that was missing was the young chap who plays Jim Farrell, third class passenger on the voyage. I was asked to read in for him and although his first line was delivered in a passably Irish manner, things simply went downhill from there until you’d have been hard-pressed to tell that the poor chap was human, let alone Irish. On the positive side, it did cause minor amusement to my fellow cast members, which was increased at the nadir of my accent attempts, when a particularly atrocious sound gave me a case of the giggles and caused me to go bright red as I struggled for air. I shall stick to the various English, Scots and American accents that I actually can do in future.

3 – The sense of smell can be numbed. On Tuesday, I helped at a family fun day organised by the local churches, where I spent the best part of four hours either serving or cooking sausages which were handed out free to grateful members of the public. I love sausages, but being part of the cooking and serving of several thousand sausages may have curbed my enthusiasm slightly. After only half an hour or so, I realised that I could no longer smell the sausages that were merrily cooking on the BBQ. My nose must have had enough and simply given up.

4 – An empty glove is not a good thing to be.The wonderful Archbishop of York was a part of Tuesday’s event and gave a great message about what it means to be a Christian. He compared life without God to being a glove without a hand in it – floppy and directionless. But being filled by God is like a glove is like a glove being filled by a hand, now able to wave, shake hands, bake a cake or do the hand jive (OK, so the Archbishop didn’t actually mention doing the hand jive, but you get the idea). He was speaking of Jesus’ statement that He came so that we could have life in all its fullness, not just a little bit of life, but an awful lot of Life. It was a clear, direct and inspirational message.

5 – One of my defining qualities is agelessness. It tends to be said that I look younger than I am, and I thought the cast of West Side Story were going to prove this when one of them guessed my age as 24. Unfortunately, yesterday, one of them (who is 13 but has the cheek to look at least 16) decided to guess my age and came up with the figure of 35. Yikes. I’m 29, and will turn 30 the day before the curtain rises for our production of Titanic. There’s nothing wrong with being 35, but really… However, to a 13-year-old, surely anything past about 21 is ‘ancient’.

6 – I’m a big softie. I don’t cry at films or books, and the only things I’ve seen in the theatre that I recall making my cry are Cabaret and Blood Brothers (though Parade and Billy Elliotmust both have been close to bringing on the waterworks). However, on Friday, we reached the final scene of West Side Story in a run-through, and there I was with tears trickling down my cheeks, so that I had to nip outside and dry my eyes before we set the bows. The last couple of scenes are deeply emotional for my more serious character, Doc, but even so… I don’t normally get deeply invested in my characters and this was a run-through in a hot room in a school, with very few costumes, with a few stops and starts and with only plastic chairs as the set, so I don’t know why it got to me. It did, though, so the only conclusion must be that I’m a big softie. I’m hoping that I get over this by the time we open on Wednesday, but who knows. Perhaps I’ll be a blubbering mess all week.

So there we have it. Six things that I’ve discovered this week. What’s your ‘something new’ for the day?

  1. It’s only 9.30 so I haven’t learnt anything new yet today. I really enjoyed the Archbishop of York’s gospel message – it was really encouraging!

  2. Yay! Interesting…

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