A final toast to midnight
My involvement in When Midnight Strikes is now over, and I have a few hours to turn around and get ready for the Pajama Game show week. I will certainly miss the show and miss the cast and crew, who were really wonderful to work with – a truly supportive ensemble where we were all equals. In a show like that, with a cast of 12, often all on stage at the same time, working together as a team was even more important than it always is in theatre, and this team really did bond well during rehearsals. During the final few rehearsals and the performances, it was fascinating and rewarding to see little touches in each person’s performance which cemented their character and made their relationships with others on stage more believable. For various reasons, I was often offstage and could observe what was happening in the background of the scenes, seeing another level of drama play out.
I shall miss playing Christopher West, so different to my usual sorts of roles, though it will be quit a relief in a way as well – he wasn’t the nicest man to have under my skin, and he certainly got in there somehow. I will most certainly miss his second-act solo, which was an absolute pleasure to sing. The song, ‘Like Father, Like Son’ takes in the whole of the character’s life and partially explains some of his actions and attitudes. Christopher is a very complex character, and I feel I was only just starting to inhabit the whole role by the final performance. The show’s composer, Charles Miller, came to see the show last night, and it was great to get to meet him. I didn’t really know what to say (I have never been very good at meeting new people) and have no idea how much sense I managed to make when I talked to him. I was fascinated to learn that Christopher is based on a real person and the party is based on a real party. I did wonder, but didn’t ask, whether ‘Christopher’ and the others know that a show has been based around them and what they’d think of seeing themselves on the stage.
I was exceptionally nervous doing this show, due to it being so far outside my normal performing comfort zone, but it was an amazing experience which I wouldn’t have missed for the world. Beautiful music, a complex character, a show that flipped so readily between comedy and tension, a supportive company, lots of laughs and a real sense of having achieved something worthwhile together. The only thing I won’t miss is the phrase “happy new year” – I think we’re all a little tired of that after four months of saying it over and over again. But still, as we sang at the close of act one, “Cheers – here’s to you all!”