A week in the Tower – Day 6

So after two months of living and breathing All Shook Up, it finally had to end.  One last journey to the Tower Theatre, and two last shows.  One last day with Lights Up Productions and the several dozen people whose work made the show happen in so many ways.  It had been a hard couple of months, in terms of the number of hours of rehearsing and in terms of emotional stresses both connected to the show and otherwise.  I had tried hard to keep my personal life outside of my show life, and hopefully succeeded (on Day 2, though, being in the theatre made me miss Stuart immensely and I needed a good cry, but I saved it until the lunch break).  Dance routines had driven me literally to the point of tears when trying to get them right at home.  The tight jeans had almost given me nightmares.  One of the scenes did literally give me some very disturbing dreams.  But I had met, and re-met, some amazing, talented, dedicated people and we’d put together a show we enjoyed and which we were proud of.  Now it had to end.

The day began with a little bit of drama due to  a minor collision with another car on the way to the theatre as a result of slippery road conditions.  Thankfully nobody was hurt and no major damage was done to either vehicle.  As ever, things began with notes and warm-up activities while we sorted our mics out.  The show as a whole was, we were told, really slick now.  We just needed to remember to make it new and fresh – act as though we really don’t know what’s coming next, as we were starting to anticipate moments too much.  As we prepared for the matinée show, the director calmly had his hair cut in the backstage workshop.  Not, we thought, the usual time or place, fifteen minutes before curtain up!

The matinée crowd was small.  Not really enough to call it a crowd.  But they enjoyed the show nonetheless, and whooped enthusiastically at the end of each act.  A couple of jokes which had been getting very little reaction actually attracted a response from this audience, which surprised and delighted our Mayor Matilda.  ‘Don’t Be Cruel’ went more smoothly, but to my utter horror, I jumped onto the leading man’s tenor harmony line at the end once more.  Not, as he would say, good.  The other incident of note was that during the finale number, ‘Burning Love’, I noticed a pink-clad dancer walk onto stage and join us at one point.  This was strange, as I’d never noticed it before, and I’m always looking in the same place at that point in the routine.  It transpired later that said dancer’s top had fallen down part way through the number.  She had, at the earliest opportunity, zipped off into the wings to put it back on, since dancing in one’s bra is not much fun, and had calmly rejoined us when it would be least obtrusive.  Well done, that woman!

Between performances, we had our buffet with a range of food provided by everyone involved with the show.  My cheese straws went down well, and one person’s mum had made some supremely tasty chicken for us.  Once we had eaten, the band began jamming and people had a boogie on the stage.  It was relaxed, friendly and happy, though I did find that I needed a few minutes on my own outside to gather myself.  There were quite a number of notes given after the matinée, tweaks to make things even  better than ever.  I had several moments that needed work – my vocal issues with the end of ‘Don’t Be Cruel’ were pulled up, so I made sure I sang those two lines over and over and over and…  Well, you get the idea.  A silent crossover I make needed some work as my actions were not reading correctly from an audience point of view.  At one point, things would look nicer if I mirrored the leading man’s move.  A tweak with a prop was suggested for a dialogue scene.  And my ‘One Night With You’ was praised.  One of my least favourite moments in the show (due to alarming pelvic thrusting action) had become my most effective moment!

Energy levels as we came to the final performance were at an absolute high, and we put absolutely everything we had left into each scene, dance and song.  Everyone was buzzing, and grins were exchanged liberally as we passed one another in the wings.  Things generally went very well, though the performance was not incident-free.  I had a brain freeze at one point, with my mind unable to remember whether to shout ‘Sandra’ or ‘Sylvia’ (answer, ‘Sandra’, though shouted a moment later than it should have been).  A clothes rail attempted to break my leg.  One character had trouser issues, finding it almost impossible to fasten his flies back up in one scene.  Someone’s mic pack was swinging around between his legs during ‘Devil in Disguise’.  And during my trio, ‘Power of My Love’, I somehow managed to stick my finger in the leading man’s mouth while I was singing.  We both coped with it surprisingly well, we thought, and carried on as though we always did that.  It was at a moment when we were fighting for the affections of the delightful Miss Sandra.  I pointed at him, and he must have been moving towards me at the same time.    They say there’s a first time for everything, but I don’t think that was likely to have been on the list of things that are likely to have a first time.  Most odd.

The audience loved it once more, and we felt rather drained and emotional as we sung the curtain call reprise for the very last time.  It was all over.  Costumes had to be packed up, dressing rooms cleared of rubbish, champagne drunk and presentations made.  We all signed a giant poster for the show and we gradually drifted away.  It was a very strange time, knowing that many of the cast are heading for London for professional training in September (and those that aren’t going this year will more than likely head that way in 2011), so I’ll probably never work with many of them again.  It has been quite a journey, with ups and downs a-plenty, but I have really appreciated the Lights Up approach to doing a show.  Absolute commitment from everyone.  Equality and respect among cast and crew.  A dedication to getting it right, and then once it is right making it better and better.  Being willing to accept criticism and to take notes and direction well.  A refusal to believe in the concept of “can’t”.  Leaving all personal issues outside the door.  Putting in whatever it takes to make the best show possible – long, long days and a lot of sweat.

Audience reaction suggests this was one of the best shows I’ve ever been in.  Perhaps not one of my personal best performances, but not a performance that let the side down either (and believe me, the best that I could do).  A great challenge, and a great joy.  Yes, even the dancing.  Don’t tell anyone, but I absolutely loved the dancing, even the moves that I never quite mastered.  I can’t quite believe that it’s over, but I really look forward to following the careers of my cast mates.  For now, I bid the production farewell, and to everyone involved… as the King himself would say, “thank you very much!”

    • Trish
    • August 17th, 2010

    That was a great post – very funny. I especially liked the bit where you managed to stick your finger in the leading man’s mouth while you were singing. Oh no! You sounded a bit wistful about everyone going off to do professional training – have you ever considered doing a full time Performing Arts degree yourself? (although you have done so many shows you might not have much to learn).

  1. Glad you enjoyed it! 🙂

  2. Trish, I’ve considered it, and of the many things holding me back, money is the biggest obstacle. My wistfulness arises more from knowing that I’ll miss these people a great deal, and definitely wish I could do another show with them. And believe me – I have a *lot* to learn!

    • Trish
    • August 19th, 2010

    Yes, money is a big obstacle 😦

    Do you have any experience of the ‘technical’ side of theatre – lighting, sound etc? If you do maybe you could strike some sort of deal with the course head that you do part-time work in that line in exchange for them paying your fees. Also, you would have to save for a year or two for your living expenses and then be very, very poor for a while 🙂

    The above may be a silly suggestion, by the way 🙂

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