Thursday, August 11, 2011

A Buxton Blog - 6/8 and the following days, Connex apologises for the delay

Or I could have subtitled this "Yeah, I guess I should blog".

This week has been glorious (if that doesn't sound too Gillianish) - shows, fringe events, the festival club, and meeting good friends. I love this place.

On Saturday we DIDN'T disinherit our only Savoynet - a group photo in front of the opera house, then a dinner. We walked slowly from the opera house to the restaurant because we wanted to talk to Robert Hall (who took his first steps at a rehearsal for Grand Duke two years ago) so there wasn't a table with three vacancies. Chris and David sat with the Halls (where I'm told geek talk was the order of the day) and I sat with some greyhairs who told fascinating stories of old G&S Festivals, old Savoynet events, the US economy and whatever else came up. What a great bunch of people Savoynet is! I'm really proud to be counted as one of their number.

Sunday was quite un-Sundayish. We met the rest of our own company at the pub outside the opera house, then unpacked our costumes and sorted them out. Some of the girls needed help carrying theirs home - so I got to walk with Naomi and wear her Askwood hat. I got a few funny looks going through Spring Gardens like that. I found out something about myself - I don't actually enjoy being freakish just for its own sake, but in a good cause I fear nothing. Good to know.

We got home and had nothing to do, so I decided to take Sunday seriously and prepare a sermon. The kerplonk method of choosing a passage to preach on is terribly rigged - my Bible opens easier at the bits I read most often. So I had to preach on the reign of Omri king of Israel. What does that say about me?

Of course when I preach I do it in the modern style buddy - with Google and online commentaries. And archeological sites too. Lots of fun. I had always thought Jehu's dynasty was the longest-lasting in the Northern kingdom - but it seems Omri's beat it by a short half head.

I couldn't possibly preach standing up to a congregation of two, so what started as a sermon morphed into a group Bible study, and from there into a Sunday night family chat and prayer meeting. It also phase-shifted from Omri, to what sort of things God values, to what God values about our family, to how to be an encouraging kind of person. I rather think it's the best Sunday night I've had for ages, in terms of spiritual growth and life application of Biblical principles.

As I said before we allowed ourselves to be roped in as extra hands for the pro show - carrying set and costumes for bump-in. As part of that we volunteered to help with bump-out as well, so we were a bit late to the Festival Club. But as I came in Don Smith (who had been at my table at the Savoynet dinner and heard my stories about being scared stiff at the prospect of being SM with zero experience) grabbed me and said "Neil's looking for you, he needs a Stage Manager for the Nomads show tomorrow!"

I could have sworn he was joking, but as Neil was handing out words for the community singing session he said to me "Oh Michael, are you busy tomorrow night? I need a Stage Manager." Oh boy, it's true... "Well I have zero experience, but I'll give it a shot!" So he said he'd come back to me if he couldn't find anyone else. Wow. Here comes my international career. And with the Nomads, no less! They're basically a pro company! I'm going to be rubbing shoulders with these internationally famous G&S performers! It means missing a day of Arcadians rehearsals, but it's not like we have any pressing duties yet.

Well history now tells that he didn't find anyone, so I got to sit in the corner of the opera house and broadcast my voice to half a dozen dressing rooms. And make funny comments to Constance about her coke bottle actually containing philtre, and suchlike hilarities. At the end of the Act 2 beginners call I said something along the lines of "Thank you ladies and gentlemen, and chookas, which is Australian for break a leg!" - and got some bites about it later at the club!

So now I know - just like operating a lighting board, spotting or even acting, stage managing can be done well just by preparing properly, taking half an hour to stress, and then just DOING IT. Good to know. And for the record, I didn't stuff up even once. :D

It was almost a disappointment to have Neil buy me a drink but not mention another job he needed done. It's lots of fun working with different companies, especially when they show their appreciation like this lot do. But it's probably better this way, we DO have our own rehearsals to do.

So, Tuesday the 9th - settling in to Arcadians rehearsals. Robert is getting a bit stressed, oh dear... Still, Ron can get away with anything! In his Doody song he changed the "seagull pooped in my eye" joke to end with "Isn't it lucky pigs don't fly!" Unfortunately true - although Amberley's loss is Point Cook's gain.

Cambridge did Iolanthe in the Opera House. We were expecting great things because our good Savoynetter friend Laurie Marks is involved in the group and he has high standards. Unfortunately the MD was a bit of a weak link - which makes the whole show feel sloppy. Chris sweated over his review for ages to make it more positive (and got some amazed comments from other people who had seen the show).

In the club afterward Laurie MC'd the cabaret, which was hilarious. Some of the political jokes were local, but we got the picture. I think that must have been one of the best nights in the club so far.

And so we come to yesterday - more Arcadians rehearsals with Robert yelling at times, but Savoynet's show in the evening made up for it. It was pretty much a traditional Mikado, but with quite an excellent lineup of costumes and props which made for a great visual effect. The Little List song was RIGHT up to date, with rioters featuring heavily among the number of those who might well be underground. One idea which I suspect was a rehearsal gag with seniority was Peep-Bo (aka Rachel Darling Gianesse Middle, one of the three hottest girls that talk to me under sufferance only) greeted Nanki-Poo with "It's the very place for mermaids!" - ROFL!

And of course the Savoynet cabaret was a lot of fun. Community singing of Mikado included, by popular request (popular = me, Chris and Laurie), about twice as much of the Act 1 Finale as had been planned. We just kept singing after John cut us off, the piano decided to to follow us instead of the conductor, and as everyone knows, the piano is king. Then somehow Stuart Box (the director of the Savoynet show) told us the story of how one puts on a Savoynet show, with every sentence leading in to a song. Clever. But then, one has to be clever to put on a show, especially a world-class one, in a single week.

I guess that takes us to today. So far we've rehearsed Arcadians, with our MD this time. He's brilliant - I didn't think the show was lacking anything before, but now that I see the extra polish he's given it (in just over three hours) I can see that it's 100% better. This is going to be a GOOD show. If Yeomen is as good we have a good chance of winning this festival!

And now, if you'll excuse me - this is a rehearsal in costume, when the cameras traditionally come out. And who am I to fight against tradition?

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