Saturday, August 20, 2011

A Buxton Blog - 17-18/8, a yeomen effort

Well what with the rush of actually doing the show I've been forgetting to blog about it. It's better that way than the other.

The last day of rehearsals was pretty much like the rest, the stress wasn't too bad considering everything.

Festival Iolanthe in the evening. Someone I know who has a great opinion of her own ability now stands exposed as either a massive liar or a planetary egotist. That wasn't entirely unexpected. Still, the antics of the fairies were a lot of fun to watch, and were quite in line with my ideal translucent Iolanthe. Interestingly, a lot of the choreography (especially for the peers) was very similar to what we did in 2006... must be traditional. The quality of the chorus was the same as 2006 too - very mixed. Ah well, we need shows like that to set apart the outstanding ones.

Cabaret was quite good. We didn't know most of the songs, but Strephon (an expat Aussie) and Charli (who sends me messages on a fairly constant basis) did a duet which was really quite charming.

Funnily enough, there weren't many Aussies at the club. What, do they think a 2am finish is a bit much before the busiest day of everyone's life? How strange!

And so to Thursday. We were up and about in good time for 9am bump-in, which was actually quite easy since the set people (that's different from the stage crew around here) did it all for us. People sorted out their dressing rooms, got ready for an entrance check when the crew had their break, and then went off for lunch before the 2pm dress rehearsal. It wasn't quite so easy for me as Stage Manager, but I did manage to get time to eat.

Dress rehearsal went very well - we had to go back over a few things (not many) and the pace was so good that we managed to do the whole show with the exception of just the last section of dialogue (the orchestra will walk at 5:30 so we had to be sure we had time - as it happened we finished the show at about 5:28). Nobody had given me a list of props so I had to send Chris around to the Octagon to borrow some from the pro company. See, it's useful to know people and earn their gratitude by helping them with their bump-outs. It's even more useful to be close to everything and everyone, close enough to send someone to go and source a prop, during the dress rehearsal.

And so off to dinner - no not yet, we have to sort out fly cues. And the last few lighting cues. And by the way Dick, how do you want to do your orchestra bows? And are these stand-by buttons working? OK, now I can go eat. Oh grumbles - everything's closed! And the frozen meals we have at home take an hour to cook!

So we went to the festival club - in its daytime incarnation as a fairly nice cafe. Soup of the day and chips? And you can do that in half an hour? Sounds perfect.

So I arrived back at the theatre JUST in time to give the half-hour call over the tannoy. No sooner had I done it than front of house asked me if we were OK to let the audience into the house! Quick guys, let's preset for Act 1 and let them in. We're doing a show tonight!

The rest, as they say, is history. We did the show. Nobody made any major mistakes (just a very few minor ones). My announcements ("Ladies and gentlemen, I have no idea what time interval started but it must be about time so this is your five minute call, five minutes until you're required on stage please") were received with an agreeable degree of mirth. The lighting and flying teams did their job amazingly. The cast were outstanding. I was sure the adjudicator would rave about us...

She didn't. She said quite a few nice things, but she hated the lighting! Must have been too innovative for her. She said it was too dark and she couldn't see people - for goodness sake, dark lighting goes with dark humour to make a dark show! Yeomen isn't Pinafore! So who knows, we might not walk away with first prize this year.

Festival club and cabaret! Andrew got up and introduced us (from notes on his netbook - just in case they thought Australia was a backward country) and people sang. Considering the songs weren't all that amazing (although the singers were, admittedly) we must have had a lot of the audience's sympathy because they were giving us their attention - all the way to the back of the room. Quite something.

Some people never rest though - Dave Gerard was already thinking about how the crate of set was going to get back home. So we made a date for 9am to pack the thing. With the minor setback that half the material was missing. Still, Neil Smith promised us his full support (up to and including the replacement of the missing timber) so I couldn't worry too much.

Well they kicked us out of the club at 1:30am (as they do) and we went to the common room at the halls of residence to finish off the party. What a great cast we have. It lasted until about 4:30am. Was I worried about being able to get up the next morning? Of course not.

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