“A DAY IN THE LIFE” – Part 1
Well, it’s time for the next instalment of The Sound of Music blog! Many thanks to those who have already submitted questions to be answered by our resident bloggers: Amy Lennox (Liesl) and Luke Fredericks (Rolf). Many of you have being asking about the various “behind the scenes” aspects of the show. So for this blog we are going to take you backstage at the London Palladium to find out what exactly goes on before the curtain goes up!
Remember, keep your questions coming in for future blogs! Anything you want to know about The Sound of Music? The cast? The Palladium? Drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
LF: So. The question is “what goes on before the curtain goes up?” Wow! Try and describe that in a blog. I guess the easiest thing is if we take a camera and a dictaphone and work our way around the theatre. So much happens before the start of a show. Every department has their own procedures to make sure that everything is ready for curtain up. There are so many different departments on this show: Wigs, Wardrobe, Sound, Stage Management, Automation, Lighting, Stage Crew and that is before you add us lot in the cast, and, of course, the Orchestra!!
AL: Well, the easiest thing to start with is to tell you what the cast get up to before the show starts. I come in at 6.15 which is the time that I get my rollers in so that my hair is lovely and curly for the show. They have to been in for at least half an hour so that my hair stays curly for the whole show. At half six, we all go down to the stage for a vocal warm up with the Musical Director. We do lots of scales and exercises.
LF: Yeh. Amy comes down to warm up in rollers looking like Dot from Eastenders!
AL: After warm up we then head back to our respective dressing rooms which is usually in time for “the half”. This is always 35 minutes before the curtain goes up and is the time by which all cast members must be in the building! So, we then have thirty minutes to get into costume and make up and be ready for our first entrance in the show. So what about the other five minutes? Well, “act one beginners” get called to the stage 5 minutes before the start of a show. This is to give time to get to the stage and make sure we start on time.
LF: We get another call after 15 minutes that tells us the details for that specific performance. We get told who is not performing that evening, which understudies (if any) are on, which group of children are performing (We currently have three teams – the Griffindors, Hufflepuffs and Ravenclaws!! If you think that is bizarre, our last teams were called The Nolans, The Osmonds and The Jacksons!!!!) and who the conductor of the orchestra is.
AL: And then we get a call five minutes before we are called to the stage.
LF: Just enough time to finish a cuppa and brush my teeth.
LF: Cos I have to kiss you at the end of our scene and it’s only fair that I don’t smell!
AL: Aw, thanks! Those that are in the opening of the show then head to the side of the stage that they enter from. We are all checked in (a bit like being at school!!) by stage management to make sure everyone is ready to go, who then take on the running of the show.
LF: So, that is what the cast do before the curtain goes up! But what about the other departments?
AL: Our first call on the “A DAY IN THE LIFE” blog is with the lovely people on our Wigs department!
LF: So those of you that have seen the show will be aware that there are a lot of nuns who have the tops of their heads covered up with a wimple. However, when not being nuns, many of these actresses appear in Von Trapp’s ball in amazing gowns and with hair that looks immaculately styled. Then there is Maria who has a short blond bob and the Baroness who is also blond even though both Summer and Fiona who play these roles have much darker hair!
AL: We have a fantastic wigs department who work brilliantly to make the cast look like they are ‘of the period’. So we thought we would start our journey around the theatre by popping into the see everyone in Wigs and see what they get up to on a typical show day!
LF: Ok. Here we are in the Wig Department with Katie. Take us through a normal day in the Wigs department.
Katie: A normal day in the wigs department is: we come in, unblock some wigs and ferry them around to the people who will be wearing them….
LF: Tell us what ‘unblocking’ means.
Katie: We pull all the blocking pins out and sectioning clips that keep the wigs in place when they have been dressed out so that they don’t fall apart on people’s heads! They are then delivered to respective dressing rooms. Then at the half hour call we all have different plots to do. Currently I’m predominantly with the children in the show. So I do the hair for all the Von Trapp children so they look all gorgeous and sweet, even though they can be little monsters!
AL: And what is your favourite bit of the job?
LF: Good answer. Would have said the same myself.
Katie: Definitely!! Especially when he changes in Act 2 and goes from nice telegram boy to nasty Nazi boy. Lots and lots of blue stuff!
LF: Blue stuff! For those not familiar it’s like a blue gel spray that slicks my hair down for the scene in the Abbey at the end of the show. We affectionately call it ‘blue stuff’ and say it as though we are Gollum from Lord of the Rings! Anyway, what time do you start on a normal day Katie?
Katie: On a normal day I start at 6.15 and finish just after the show comes down! And it is a very nice evenings work!!!
LF: Do you any particularly funny stories form your time in the Wigs Department?
Katie: One that springs to mind was during a dress run in the tech week for the quick changes at the end of the show (when the nuns strip to reveal their main characters underneath for the bow) our then current Wig Master threw on a wig with such force that he misplaced it, giving the innocent victim a really low ‘monkey forehead’! It was hysterical. She walked on for the bows and the rest of the cast questioned, while laughing hysterically, if she had her wig on upside down!!! She looked ridiculous!
LF: I wish we had a picture!
AL: And now, we are interviewing Melissa Lindsay who is Wig Mistress, or Head of Department for those who don’t know what that means!
ML: I make sure all the wigs look good everyday for each show.
AL: So what is a typical day?
ML: A typical day. I come in, get all the wigs ready. There are 18 wigs on the show and we set about four or five a day, on rotation.
AL: What do you mean by ‘set’ a wig?
ML: Well, we wash it, put setting lotion on it, wet-wave it – which is a tedious process. It involves putting finger waves through the hair so all these lovely luscious waves that you see here are painstakingly put in. It takes about an hour to do each wig!
ML: So it’s a long slog but it is a very period show. It takes a lot of time to do.
LF: What period is the show set in?
ML: It’s 1938, in Austria…..I think!
AL: What is the favourite part of your job?
ML: It’s when everything looks absolutely gorgeous on stage. I watch the show regularly as part of my job. I check the wigs and make up as well! Check that everyone looks good under the lights.
LF: Do you ever catch anyone wearing too much make up?
ML: A couple. I won’t name any names. (laughs!!)
LF: And I bet it’s mostly the men.
ML: It is funnily enough! A bit too much bronzer comes out now and again!
LF: That’s not me I hasten to add. I don’t wear any!
LF: Moving on. Mel, have you worked on any other shows?
ML: Yes I have. Before this I was on Daddy Cool, which I did from beginning to end. Before that was The Woman in White and before that was Bombay Dreams. All three shows I worked on from first night through to closing night.
LF: So how does this compare to The Sound of Music?
ML: Well, this show is an easier job in terms of the plots and running the show. But is harder because of the detail and the delicate nature of the wigs involved. But it’s great because it’s a hard process but an amazing result at the end!
LF: Absolutely. They look fantastic.
AL: Ok. That’s it for the wig department. Now we are going to head to another part of the theatre to meet the guys who work in………
So where do Amy and Luke head to next? Be sure to check in soon for the next instalment of the Sixteen Going On Seventeen blog as they continue to explore the goings on backstage at The London Palladium. We promise more photos and stories!
Don’t forget to keep the emails and questions coming in!
Click here to go back to previous page