Truly, in the sense that I, lo and behold, write this update from the stage door ‘box’ at the Gielgud! Thought it seemed natural! However, it is somewhat different as it is already nearly eight o clock and I’ve only just had time to turn my computer on! All very busy here, with such a huge cast and company coming and going all afternoon. More on that later.
So we started back last week, with training on Wednesday through to Friday. It’s strange: the same but different. It seemed like there were loads of us going back, and in fairness there are about 10 or 12, but with a bigger staff now we are still outnumbered by ‘newbies’. They all seem lovely though – friendly and proficient. Of course, with many things so similar, the differences do seem more marked. The theatre looks like a different place inside. The set is bizarrely different: they have tried to make it ‘in the round’ by jutting the circular stage out slightly and installing six rows of audience seats behind it, on the stage itself. There is a running track that slopes down from the stage out into the stalls. They try to refer to it as a ‘stadium’ to really give the feel of an Olympic setting. The round stage revolves so the actors can run fast but not travel at too great a speed.
The cast of course have also drastically changed. As mentioned, there are more like 25 of them: a huge leap up from the handful I got used to! It is a mostly young cast, naturally given the show. Our biggest ‘names’ are Nickolas Grace and – again – Simon Williams (he just can’t stay away!) It’s quite good to see him again actually; he’s a nice friendly man.
On Friday we were asked to go in for a few hours in order to sort out uniforms and to watch the dress rehearsal. Uniforms were sorted (back in short sleeves and long maroon apron!), lockers allocated (made a strategic move from 6 to 11) and paperwork filled in. We went sent off for a while before the rehearsal was due to begin, told we would be able to sit at the front of the dress circle. When we came back however, we found out that the rehearsal wasn’t going to happen and instead they were still doing a tech run. It was suggested we should still sit in, at the back, and watch some, in order to give us an idea.
When we got up to the foyer, we found ourselves behind Vangelis, the composer of that famous music, being escorted into the auditorium by an entourage, one of whom was filming his every move in excitement. It was quite a big deal, having someone so iconically associated with the show in the building. He sat in the front of the dress, and we all got to witness a gloriously lovvie moment when the whole cast from stage applauded him as the music played and the director made an impassioned speech.
Watching the tech was interesting to a point: I had never seen quite such an involved rehearsal before, with the director jumping in to make changes, and scenes being re-marked. After a while however, the novelty wore off as progress was very slow. Luckily, after a while, they stopped for a tea break and a number of cast members, led by Simon, came up to the dress with trays of chocolates, biscuits and other goodies. After plying Vangelis and crew with treats, Simon then came up to us offering them around, and I assisted him in rearranging the chocolates on the tray (champagne truffles from Patisserie Valerie, lovely!) We then sneaked off and I was home nice and early for a rare evening off.
So within a few days of being back at Gielgud my life has upped its glamour level again. On Saturday I was on bar, but the producer came into our front of house meeting to give us a little pep talk and thank us in advance for our work. My celebrity spotting has begun again, as last night I served Nigel Havers (who was of course in the original film). If I knew more about sport I’m sure the number of celeb spots would be higher, as they seem to be inviting past Olympians in to see it. I imagine press night next Tuesday will be attended mainly by sports stars.
And I’m straight back on stage door tonight! As I say, it’s been considerably busier than I grew used to! I was a little anxious about it before coming as there are so many new people to get to know, plus new forms and paperwork for contractors etc. I didn’t stop in my first hour here and there’s been a steady flow of visitors, phone calls and tannoy announcements ever since. Now the show is up however, I’m finally getting a moment. When Ladykillers was here I got quite confident doing this. The cast was small and of course I knew them all, so it was a relatively easy job. It’s very much more hectic now and I’m being kept on my toes, but it’s going pretty well so far. Tried to spend the afternoon getting myself to stop half-expecting Marcia to turn up with a fragrant smile, Peter to come flying in and out with coffee, Ben to wander out scouting for food, James to scurry in in his motorbike helmet, to have a chat and a laugh with Stephen and a smile from Clive.
Old cast have certainly not exited my life completely though. Still tweeting back and forth with James and sometimes Ben. He claims he ‘shall’ drop into visit if he gets the chance when he visits the UK next month. Haha! Perhaps even more bizarrely, I saw one of them last week! I was walking through Soho on my way to work when Peter suddenly appeared in front of me! I seem to have a knack for bumping into him. I said hello and we had a little catch up (luckily he remembered who I was!). He told me about what he’d been up to since we last met, what was coming up next for him and asked about the theatre. It was really lovely to see a Ladykiller!
Thursday was a good day all round actually, so we have labelled last week ‘Super Week Part 2’. After training that evening a group of the front of house crew went out for cocktails (we simply had to take advantage of actually being free during ‘happy hour’!) Quite a few of the new guys came along too which was nice. Sophie joined us, and then we too went off to Kings Cross to see the recording of the Radio 4 show ‘Chain Reaction’. Jeremy Front interviewed Rebecca Front, who then interviewed Chris Addison. It was really interesting and completed a Thick of It centric day!
My flatmate is away this week so enjoying having the place to myself. Lots of celebrations are goin on as it’s Myles’ birthday: spent Saturday night at his house at a ‘Grease’ themed party – wearing a pink dress and blaring out the karaoke until the small hours. ‘Such fun’!
As my supervisor summarised, this show ‘isn’t as glamorous as Ladykillers’ (glamour IS an old lady, a covered parrot cage and an unruly scarf), but it looks as if it should be good, and fun to work on. Trying to get a few more responsibilities by applying for cover supervisor and cover ‘fireperson’ roles. Should definitely be looking to move up here, seeing as I’m no closer to finding another job. Waiting to hear back from the interview I had at the casting agents’ last week.
Well, I have been left in charge of some keys, a CV, a tub of massage oil and some chocolate cake (guess which one I’m eating?) and interval is coming up. Shall sign off in appropriately dramatic and emotional slow motion.
..NB... very slow - posted a day after writing as typically, the wifi was on the blink in the theatre again...