Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Panto Queen, Old and Battered, Only Umpteen-teen

Well, we got through it. The first day of our Panto run that is – two shows today and the only thing that didn’t happen was someone falling off the stage. I bet that’ll be tomorrow.

Half the cast arrived with colds/’flus (depending on ones sex), caught, we decided, from third courtier (left) at yesterday’s dress rehearsal in a very large fridge which was masquerading as a community centre. The burst water pipes in said community centre hadn’t helped, although we all arrived for rehearsal suitably booted in wellies. Who says amateur drama is a non-risk hobby!

There were fluffed lines all over the place, people tripping over hems of overlong costumes, a nightmarish ten minutes ( actually two but it felt like ten) when nobody seemed to know what was happening next because the sound man forgot to hit the button with the fill-in narration. He wasn’t a very sound man for long – he was a shook man after the producer got her hands on him, it was alright though she’s married to him. For now.

Seriously…that’s ridiculous because how can any comment about Panto be serious. For a show that only had a full cast twice in the last three weeks because of snow, ice, and flippin’ Christmas we didn’t do too badly. All our really good singers sang their solos to perfection. Our fairies were farcically brilliant and Sleeping Beauty was beautiful - helped enormously by the fact that she is in her mid twenties but looks fourteen and has a delightful Russian accent. The camaraderie between Prince Valiant and Dandini was great and their number went really well – the rest of us muddled through and camped it up big time although the energy was way down by the second act of the second show. Somebody did wander into a scene where they had no reason to be and was shooed off by waspish mad good fairies! Hilarious - for those of us backstage anyway

But despite everything that went awry I sat backstage after my first exit and inhaled and felt the tingle of that - long ago and far away - very first performance again; for one brief minute. That excitement – knowing you are going onstage, not as yourself but as someone that others can relate to on a different level to ordinary everyday social interaction.

If I thought too much about it, I would have the decency to feel embarrassed that I had asked friends and neighbours and work colleagues to come and watch me practising my hobby – and pay cash to do same! I mean, it’s a bit self- indulgent. But as I left the centre (knackered) I met two little girls waiting for their Dad. They recognised me and pointed at me, whispering.

- Hello! I said - Did you enjoy the show?-
- Oh yes, said little girl#1 -The Sleeping Beauty was very beautiful-
- And the funny fairies were so funny - added little girl#2 – Oh! I wish I could have been up there too!

I laughed and waved at them and left the place with a smile on my face. Knowing that at least for those two wee girls it was as magical as I felt it should be. And above all as a cast of ordinary individuals – shop assistants, librarians, office workers, electricians, Mammys and Daddys, real people – we had strived to do out best and tell a story and ‘do all the voices.’

A story of hope, of love and laughter and song and the belief that together we can defeat the evil witch and live happily ever after.

As long as we don’t fall off the stage.

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