OK…ANOTHER “SORRY IT’S BEEN A WHILE!”
Flippin’ ‘eck it’s been a while. It’s actually been, as you would expect, a long, hardworking while. However, rather than ask you to accept another rather boring apology for the lack of update (I do have a million excuses – none of which I will patronise you with), I decided I would buy you all a nice virtual drink as recompense…I hope you enjoyed it!!! We are fully up and running as I write this and things are really very good. My poor 39-year-old body is just a few days into its 40th year but is bearing up rather well I think. I am tired of course and I’ve not lost very much weight so far; in fact I think I’ve gained it as a direct result of the doubling of my already magnificent daily chocolate intake! But chocolate I love…I mean I really love ,and more importantly at the moment, chocolate I need…I mean really need!
Now, I am not going to go into what is happening NOW just yet, but I need to fill you all in on what has happened over recent weeks. We were about to start the technical rehearsals when I ended my last entry and so much has gone on since then that I want to try and cover it. And this new entry is also appearing on a very new and shiny Joseph website so a lengthy addition is both warranted and timely.
So Monday came and we were, for the first time, at the theatre. There was clearly still much to be done but the set in all its glory was up and the basic mechanics and the automation were working well. There are two large revolving areas in the centre of the stage: the smaller one in the centre and a large one outside of that. These can move independently or together and in different directions if needed. Accompanying these is a large full-stage width panel wall that flies in from above. It has various slides and doors in it where entrances and exits can be made. Scenery can also be set behind on the revolve and, on the nod of the Stage Manager, the doors open, the revolves move and in come the props and scenery for the next scene. The revolves stop when the props or scenery are in the correct position. As you can imagine this all takes a great deal of planning and practice. There are many more automation niceties with this production but I am not going to reveal them as they may spoil your enjoyment when you come to see the show; you will then appreciate why we were scheduled to “tech” for nearly two weeks. Some shows take many more weeks to run through and refine all of their technical aspects and organise their backstage choreography (who does what and when, what goes where and when etc). It’s all very exciting. When you look out into the auditorium you can see a sea of temporary work benches littering the stalls with all sorts of electronic equipment; leads, keyboards, monitors, coffee cups etc. Glowing Apple logos are sprinkled like stars around in the darkness; today I counted seven. I think there are a great many people in the entertainment industry who use Apple Macs…I sincerely approve!
After an introduction to our dressing rooms (our homes for the next year) a tour of the theatre’s backstage and the front of house, we got straight into rehearsals, costumes an’ all! Why the costumes if this is purely for technical purposes? Well costumes can affect all manner of things, and different colour costumes look very different in certain colour light. For example a black t-shirt can look dark red under a blue light…I think that’s right! The lighting team needs to see how the costumes work with or against the lighting design. There is also all a gaggle of gorgeous dressers waiting backstage; is gaggle the correct collective noun for wardrobe staff? Perhaps it is a sew (???) of wardrobe staff or a dress of dressers…anyway enough! However those dressers need to know and rehearse their own backstage plot; where quick changes are to be made and what new pieces of costume need to be laid out. Most of the wardrobe department were still occupying the circle bar front of house and regular visits there for fittings/humiliation were always enjoyable…only if you are a masochist of course! But the dressers were working with us on stage. All around us was activity. At the mere sniff of a break for the actors, the stage team were buzzing around doing stuff; a new clip here, a hanger there. “…a complete dressing table and quick change area for 11 female dancers including lights and mirrors please Chris…no no they are on a fifteen minute tea break so you’ve plenty of time!” And suddenly it appears! How? Only the God of the backstage knows, or maybe the theatre ghost! There is a place appearing for everything. Shelves appear in obscure places stuck with mystic labels saying things like “Potipher slab” “Canaan Days Fag!” “Sweaty wet tissues here…PLEASE!” and “Bev is Cool!!!” So bit by bit, day by day the whole show falls into place.
The plans I had for my time off during the technical weeks were immediately dashed. I assumed that we would be working 9am-5pm type hours and I had intended to take in some shows that I hadn’t yet seen in the West End each night. As it turns out we are rehearsing 1pm-10pm.
Sometimes our breaks were extended due to technical problems on stage so we got a bit of extra time to settle in to our dressing rooms. Us lads were lucky enough to be given the very top floor of the building, you know, only five floors up from the stage! There are three dressing rooms up there; three swings in one, six chaps in the other and five, including, myself in room 10. The rooms are actually quite nice; there are a couple of sinks and a fridge in ours and, after various bits and pieces were bought in from home, it gets to feel pretty comfortable even on the TOP FLOOR!!! Pictures, photos and cards soon begin to litter the mirrors and that man smell starts to ingrain itself into every area of the floor. The girls are one floor down. They have two large rooms, and very soon there is tons of make-up laid out everywhere, lots of flowers, and the constant sound of nattering. Our Jacob, Stephen Tate, also has his dressing room on this floor and at the end of the corridor are the wigs and wardrobe departments respectively. This is where the REAL work is done. Their rooms are not so much living environments but working areas that have to double as living spaces for the terrifically hard working ladies and gents.
The next installment is coming very soon and heads on up to the opening preview night. Stay tuned – it won’t be long…promise!
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