Our Sound of Music company manager and blogger Neil White reports on the ghoulish goings on that the company visited upon the unsupsecting Milton Keynes theatre last month…
This blog was written on Saturday 1st November.
Scary goings on at the Von Trapp Villa…
It’s Saturday evening at the end of our first week in Milton Keynes and what a week it has been!
On Monday as well as the second day of our get-in – all our new children arrived to start rehearsals, so my usual peaceful day of no acting company was shattered by 11 very excited children and two slightly frazzled looking chaperones . The first night away from home is always the worst and I think it took a while for everyone to settle.
Gavin the Resident and Children’s director and Laura our Children’s musical director started work with them straight away as there is so much for our children to learn in a very short time. Our wardrobe department have also the enormous job of preparing 77 costumes for them not to mention shoes.
For those who haven’t visited the Milton Keynes theatre, it really is an amazing building to work in. The theatre has recently celebrated its 10th birthday and still feels brand new. Everything has been so well thought out, backstage is only on 2 levels so hardly any stairs for the next three weeks. Also the stage is huge and more importantly for our crew its is a short distance from where our trucks park to the stage and also level access – so no lifting the set off the trucks on ramps.
The only thing with the size of our company it is always a bit of squeeze with dressing rooms , I am sharing a room with Gavin and I think he would get more peace if he was working in the middle of Piccadilly circus (and that’s not just because I am not the quietest person – I do seem to have quite a few visitors during the show)…….Most of the Ladies of the company are together as are the gentlemen – but luckily the theatre has a great green room backstage with sofas and TV so at least there is space to sit away from the dressing rooms.
The crew here are also great fun – and according to the girls on the show – quite pleasing to the eye as well! I think Nuns shouldn’t be looking!
The show opened on Tuesday and was all relatively calm, again the show looks fantastic here and with packed audiences it is hopefully going to be another great 3 weeks!
Again we have been hit by some more nasty bugs – this time with the children and during the show on Wednesday two of the Gruffs (one of the children’s ‘teams’) became poorly, both soldiered on but it was obvious that they couldn’t perform for our lovely extra matinee on Thursday. After lots of phone calls our amazing parents managed to get replacement children to us (just) before the performance on Thursday afternoon but another small disaster occurred when our Marta started to feel unwell before the show so the Captain has six children for the matinee. We were back up to full strength for the evening.
Quite a few of the company are commuting here so we are all a little bit split up, but those staying in MK seemed to have found great places to stay.
I really love Halloween and it is only a year since I was last in Milton Keynes and we had a great fancy dress party. Kirsty Malpass suggested we had a Pumpkin lantern competition so for the last 2 days there has been the smell of pumpkin round the theatre and much secrecy with frantic between-cue-carving. The Billy team also made me promise last week that they could dress up and go Trick or Treating, so all the theatre staff were primed and a vast quantity of sweets could be seen arriving earlier.
Halloween decorations have been put up round the building and the Children’s rooms are full of witches and ghosts, there is even a ghost freeze coming out of the wall in the stage left corridor. Somehow as well Pumpkin name plates managed to go on the girl’s dressing room door – not sure how that happened!!
The Children arrived in costume and looked great and insisted that they did their vocal warm-up in a Halloween style. Then there was the small matter or doing the matinee before they could inflict terror on the rest of the building.
6.30pm and the Pumpkin lantern competition – so many of the company have gone to so much effort, but the winner had to be the Lonely Goatherd by Kirsty , closely followed by Family Guy Stewie by Wardrobe and the Michael Jackson tribute from sound.
Then we let the children loose – (with chaperones in tow!) and for the next 20 minutes they managed to terrorise most departments in the building, it was more like ‘Give us some sweets or we are going to scream at you’ than trick or treating– some of the crew looked genuinely scared ! Jacinta, Kirsty and Clara seemed to be having a Halloween disco in their room and the only very brave member of the company to go for the Trick option was Mr Praed – but he was majorly squirted with water!
The evenings show went really well – I think mainly because the amount of sugar everyone has eaten today – and the last thing I saw before leaving tonight was Ms Fisher in silver cob web tights and Cat ears, painting on whiskers- either she is going to a party or has lost it and thinks she is in another Andrew Lloyd Webber production!
Update you all soon
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