Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Brief Encounters

A quick note to go with an amusing day. I arrived at work for the matinee this afternoon, and on arriving at stage door discovered a huge van, with a generator parked outside, with a little table under an awning. Turned out to be the catering van for the film that is being made locally. I saw some of it being filmed last week: it is to be called ‘The King of Soho’ and stars Steve Coogan (who I spotted last week) and Anna Friel. It is a biopic about Paul Raymond and is due to come out next year.

Anyway, I had learnt through twitter that Chris Addison was due to be in it, but was still amazingly surprised when, as I was standing out in the sunshine savouring the spring-like weather before having to go inside, he walked straight past me! I didn’t recognise him at first as he was in a 1970s style costume and had grown a beard, with long hair. However, he wandered past again, allowing me to confirm it was indeed him. A few minutes previously, I had seen Peter come out of the stage door heading off to get a coffee. He then returned and I got to witness him greet Chris, laugh at his costume and have a chat with him (for those who don’t know, they co-starred in ‘The Thick of It’... although usually Peter’s character is yelling and swearing at Chris’ so it was pleasantly unusual to see them behave jovially towards one another!) Peter, clearly amused by the flares, then photographed Chris in his costume.

Whilst all this was going on, James turned up and signed some things for waiting fans. I watched and was surprised to see one woman hand him the sleeve from a ‘Sense and Sensibility’ DVD. That is one of my all time favourite films, but I had completely forgotten James was in it until that moment! I couldn’t resist mentioning it to him so, even though I know he hates making conversation, as soon as he turned to go in I said ‘Did you just sign something to do with Sense and Sensibility?!’ He said yes and I replied, ‘I love that film! I’d forgotten you were in it actually!’ (honesty is best policy). He laughed and said something about how he’d had very big sideburns for the part. You heard it here first, folks!

My latest discussion with Ben was regarding the delectable Jude Law who was in the stalls last night. I was filling him in on the way home as usual! On the way out tonight, I came up the stairs from stage just as he was at the door about to sign out. We had a fascinating conversation, which he opened:

“Jude Law, eh?”
“Eh, Jude Law!”
“Jude Law!”
“Jude Law!”

He then left. Who needs a vocabulary?!

As an update from before, I did indeed remember to tell Marcia Robbie’s message and she was delighted! We had Scottish person overload when Rab C Nesbitt (aka Gregor Fisher) came round to visit and my Glaswegian friend nearly died from starstruckness overload.

On Tuesday I went to watch the understudy performance of the show. It was quite a treat to see the show as an audience member: we sat very close in row B for the novelty of getting to sit anywhere but the very back and enjoyed wandering around at the interval (also enjoyed asking our friends who were working some of the annoying questions we’re always asked!) It was fascinating to see the understudies all perform together. James and Ben had to play their parts, but other than that it was all change. I have seen two of them do it before, but, as Marcia and Peter haven’t missed a show, it was the first time seeing Marcus and Beverley play the Professor and Mrs Wilberforce. With the same lines and characters being performed by almost a wholly different cast, it was a little like being in some kind of parallel dimension. They did very well though, and I am pleased they have all now had a go at performing those parts.

Beautiful weather has kept up: today I walked home in just a blazer jacket and we went for a Tesco lunch in Soho Square between shifts. I was in Kent at the weekend for Mother’s Day and the Westgate Gardens looked stunning in the sunshine.

I received a wonderful package in the post the other day from Katy, with an assortment of adorable photos of Joseph (my godson). He’s growing so fast! Has two little teeth and the most gorgeous smile.  Can’t wait to have the time to go home to give him cuddles. Things are rosy!

Tuesday, 13 March 2012


A report from the Box again, I’m afraid. It seems to be a good place to concentrate on writing: perhaps all the creative air in a theatre seeps into me via osmosis. Perhaps I just never get round to it when I’m at home. Either way, here I am.

I am entitling this post ‘Spring’ because it’s most definitely in the air. These past few days have been gloriously mild; daffodils are appearing in the parks, gardens and grass verges, and a few trees have bravely sprouted blossom. I have ventured out once without a coat and another time with just my thin Spring one on. I am being British and talking about the weather. Apologies. It does serve as a reminder, however, that when I first moved here, it was the tail end of summer, moving into autumn and so time is passing very quickly. In actual fact, as of next week I will have been here for six months.

Life is still grand, but the end of the show approaches. To rub this in, huge posters have appeared all over the underground for The Ladykillers with ‘MUST END SOON’ or ‘FINAL WEEKS’ blazoned across them. I wonder how many other people have to put up with their potential oncoming unemployment being advertised all over London?! Still, we still have a month and I’m trying not to worry, merely enjoy each day as it comes. And if I do worry, I simply conjure up Ben Miller’s words of wisdom to me: ‘You will flit to the next blossom’. I enjoy that. Makes me sound like a butterfly, floating on the breeze. Very poetic. It is either that or Stephen Wight’s words of wisdom: ‘just drink at home: it’s cheaper than going out’. Thanks for that, Steve!

I will certainly miss this show when it leaves, even if I find employment easily. Tonight, according to the notice board backstage, is the 111th performance. Staggering. I have such new found respect for actors. Each performance requires so much energy and they have to deliver it every night. Those who have had time off have only taken the minimum because they have been ill or having babies. Peter, Marcia and James have not missed a show. And they work during the day too. Serious respect.

I have developed a strange kind of pseudo-friendship with Ben, based on sharing our theatre celebrity spots over twitter. He got to know me and my name after the whole jacket potato conversation as described before, and since then always says ‘Hi Rachel’ when he sees me. However, things turned more interesting last week.

Last Monday, Hollywood actress Thandie Newton was in the stalls. I only caught a brief glimpse of her, but she seemed from what I heard very down to earth and unassuming. My manager relished the chance to treat her otherwise, leaping on her in order to escort her around, but she did not act like one might imagine an A lister to act like. The following night, apparently Alan Titchmarsh was in.

Now, this may seem like something of a anticlimax after an Oscar nominee. However, Ben seemed to find this fascinating and reported on twitter that Alan Titchmarsh was in the audience and how ‘starry’ things were getting. I replied by telling him that although she is no Titchmarsh, did he hear that Thandie had been in the night before? He copied and pasted my comment, only left off the Titchmarsh bit and reworded it himself, saying something like ‘yes, but come on, Titchmarsh!’ ie he stole my joke! The following day, Lenny Henry was in. I informed Ben over twitter, adding that I’m sure he would find it mundane after Alan, but he replied sounding interested. Thus, we seem to have reached an arrangement where we discuss all our celebrity encounters.

On Saturday night, everyone was quite excited as Robbie Coltrane was in Box A. I was on bar, and didn’t see him on the incoming, but was asked to prepare interval drinks for him, which I did. I had to sneak into the ‘royal room’ behind the box to set out the drinks, and heard his booming laugh from through the door. My friend Jess was visiting, and as I finished slightly early, I met her at the curtain call up in the Grand Circle where she was sitting. We were going out for a drink with the others after work, so I took her down to wait for them at stage door. The cast filtered out one by one, signing autographs for a small group of girls waiting there for them. After a while, Ben appeared, signed the programmes and walked straight up to me.

“Have you heard that Robbie Coltrane is in tonight?!” he said, excitedly.

“Yes, in Box A. I was on bar though so I didn’t see him.”

“And apparently Jimmy Page was in last night!”

“Oh, I didn’t know about that one!”

At this point he launched into a Jimmy Page impression, although how accurate it was I don’t know as I can’t conjure Jimmy Page’s voice to my head. I enquired as to whether or not these were good enough celeb spots and he said they were cool. “No Titchmarsh though, eh?” I commented. He laughed and agreed that Titchmarsh had been the pinnacle of his career to date, before leaving.

Sadly for him, Robbie Coltrane appeared out of stage door moments later with Peter. He hung around for a few minutes before hailing a taxi. He was just about to get in, when he beckoned me over; it was clearly obvious that I worked there. “Who was the old lady – I can’t remember her name?” he asked.

“Marcia Warren?”

“Tell her I thought she was fantastic – very good.”

I assured him I would, hopefully appearing cool whilst being slightly starstruck and amused that I had not only seen him when I thought I wouldn’t, but also had a conversation! And apparently was now a celebrity go-between.

James Fleet also seems to see me as a source of gossip thanks to social media. I tweeted last week that Jane Asher was in, and he later said himself  ‘Rumour that Jane Asher is in the audience’. It is funny that his rumours come from me! I replied, confirming this was true but adding that disappointingly she didn’t seem to have brought any cake mix. This he retweeted. On Sunday, I saw people wishing him a happy birthday, so did the same. Whereas to everyone else he replied with a simple smile or thank you, to me he said ‘Hey you, x. No famous people at radio recording, nothing to report.’ (he was working at a radio studio that day). So again, he feels he should share all his celebrity spots with me! Difference is he wouldn’t speak to me like that in real life.

He was the reason, I suppose, behind what would have been the best celebrity spot to date last weekend. I had a Saturday off, and knew I’d be punished for that. I was at a birthday party in Kingston and received a text message from Myles informing me that Dawn French was in the audience that night. Gutted. Apparently she was tiny and lovely, just as I expected! Very sorry to have missed her. On the plus side, Myles kept her ticket stub for me and I was having a wonderful time at the party, seeing some very old friends (by old I mean I have known them since I was a toddler), one of whom I hadn’t seen in three years. So it could have been far worse!

I have had a lovely few weeks outside of work too. I seem to have seen a lot of my friends. Ollie is back in the country. Three of my friends now have seen the show, which makes me happy. I went to an Idiot Bastard Band gig. I had a great afternoon in Madame Tussauds and visited the British Museum. With Jess at the weekend I walked on Primrose Hill in the sunshine. Last Sunday, Sophie and I holed up in the Hen and Chickens to pass a rainy afternoon. Emily came to stay and we shopped til we dropped. The weeks are passing quickly; I guess I must be having fun.

It is Lent. It took me a while to decide what, if anything, to give up. Every year I have this debate with myself, starting off by ruling out chocolate, which I have something of a dependency on. Myles planted the seed of an idea in my head on Shrove Tuesday as we were discussing the issue, and I decided to go with it. Thus, blaming him, for Lent this year I have given up meat, or, as one friend put it ‘have taken up vegetarianism’. It’s going surprisingly well. I haven’t struggled too much – I enjoy vegetarian food anyway – merely finding I just need to think more about what I am eating. For instance, if grabbing a sandwich out I need to stop myself automatically going for the chicken salad. At  the party last Saturday it was a case of avoiding the cocktail sausages. There have only been one or two occasions where it’s been difficult to turn down the carnivorous option: particularly bacon for breakfast. I am finding myself more hungry more often, and it has been quite eye-opening to notice sometimes how poor the vegetarian options are. Today in Tesco for instance, I wanted to pick up  a pasta salad to have for dinner later, and found only one which didn’t have chicken in it. On the flip side, however, I have cooked myself some lovely meat free meals and discovered my favourite post-pub sandwich from Subway is now the one featuring the veggie patty (doesn’t sound appealing, I know, but it’s surprisingly nice!). Nevertheless, I confess I am looking forward to tucking into a nice slab of meat on Easter Sunday: I certainly couldn’t take up vegetarianism full time!

I am aware this blog seems to be turning into some kind of celebrity gossip column, so I shall leave you by returning to the title with an image.

Happy Spring!