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!

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