Tuesday, August 13, 2013

In Buxton: August 12, which will live in song and story

The bombshell I left you on when we last spoke was actually a nine pounder bombshell - it was that we were going to see the first Pinafore of the festival.

It was very good. The Irish pro company did it, with a few principle parts overlapped with their Mikado (not major ones though) and a full overlap of chorus. Poor chorus! That's incredibly rough. Still, this is what they get paid for. And if we hadn't been told we would never have guessed, because the precision was as good as if they'd been doing nothing but rehearse for weeks.

I'm going to rush a bit here, you'll see why in a minute. Anyway, you can check Chris's blog if you want to know about Pinafore.

So I woke up on Monday morning with nothing much on my mind. Open Clippy, look at emails. Oooooh, there's another message in a Certain Conversation. I opened it with some trepidation, because, unlike 99.99% of all emails (or 99% if you ignore spam ones) it was the sort of email conversation which could have a lot of bearing on my future life.

Let me just say that it is a fortunate girl indeed whose father trusts her judgement. It's also a fortunate boy indeed who applies titles to girls of that description. I wasn't expecting to apply the magnificent title of girlfriend to Asha until after getting home, but after an unexpected green signal (clear normal speed) and a hurried email home to get a proceed order, the we were under way with permission to run as far as the junction with the main line.

From there, of course, the day couldn't possibly get any better. Not even with a performance of Gondoliers done by the St Andrews Uni G&S group which includes so many of our favourite Buxtonian friends.

It was a very good Gondoliers. Our lovely Kate was Casilda (call it typecasting if you will, since we sang Happy Birthday for her 21st just before our rehearsals started), and successfully broke up all the fights between her parents like a good Casilda should. Marco and Giuseppe were Savoynetters too, and I'd have to say they're the best M&G I've ever seen - each individually of sufficient talent to play their parts (which I've seen before) and as a pair they looked similar enough to pass as brothers (which I haven't).

Unfortunately the PAC doesn't lend itself to a stunning lighting design to match the stunning performance. Also the tiny orchestra is a slight disadvantage (although this one was orders of magnitude better than some we've seen in UniFest). The show deserved to go into the Opera House!

Home and dinner. As we ate Chris grilled me (if that's not an excruciating pun) as to what may have triggered this change in my condition. He hadn't been watching the antics over video chat, you see, or he'd have wondered why it took so long.

Incidentally, out of consideration for everyone I will be operating under http://xkcd.com/684 rules. As I write on Tuesday morning there are six days to go.

And so to the Opera House as usual. A group by the name of Grosvenor, at the festival for the first time. And with a name like that how could they bring anything except Patience?

As we stood up to sing God Save the Queen I realised that even though my nose keeps making rude noises to itself every now and then my voice is almost back to normal. Yay!

When the curtain rose we were amazed to see the minimalist design style taken to such a length that the only things on stage were a bust of Bunthorne and a divan to sit on. Everything else was bare - no false floor, no floor cloth, no flats. Just a backcloth.

The director was obviously a big fan of the aesthetic movement because the costumes and mannerisms of Bunthorne and his adoring fans were spot on. Unfortunately the rest of the show suffered - dialogue wasn't acted, and in the songs most of the long notes weren't given their true value. The dragoons did a good acting job though - which made it a shame there weren't enough of them.

The cabaret in the Festival Club was something to see. First the St Andrews group did theirs, which was conventional but of a very high standard - including audience participation, which is always a plus. Lots of "our" people were involved.

Then the Grosvenors did theirs. Well, they say that to stick in people's minds you have to do something new. I have no idea how they knew what was same-old-same-old so they could avoid it, but they did. Some of it was mash-ups of G&S songs, which were of very high quality in rhythm and rhyme. Then there were songs and non-musical skits from other genres, recast with a G&S theme. In all I would have to say it was one of the best cabarets we've had in the Club, and that is high praise indeed.

I took an early night, because with no rehearsals to attend and shows being technically optional, I had a chance to gunzel! How best to get to Newcastle to revisit the Tyne & Wear Metro? Get up early and catch the 6:53 train.

So here I am on one of Cross Country's Voyager sets. The tilt mechanism is working perfectly, with just enough cant deficiency that I feel the curves as we thunder through them at 200km/h. So far I've been on a Sprinter and a Class 185, and seen several freight trains and a steam-and-47-hauled luxury heritage train. I'm making good use of the in-seat power points to ensure I don't suffer any flat batteries in Newcastle, and enjoy the inestimable privilege of being right at the front of the carriage where there's seats with extended leg room which also line up with the window.

We're due in to Newcastle in about ten minutes. The Tyne & Wear deserves a post of its own, so I'll wrap it up here. For news as it happens, with photos complete, check Facebook or Google Plus.

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