I’m sorry its been a while, did you even spot I’d disappeared?
My brain can’t often take the pace of my life which is why the words that exit from my mouth are often a mixed up mess, but recently my ageing body was also struggling. I had a torn ligament so couldn’t walk, conjunctivitis so couldn’t see, an ear infection so couldn’t hear, a hacking cough so couldn’t go far from a toilet and eczema which meant I couldn’t stop scratching! Sadly with an abundance of health issues, I also couldn’t find my sense of humour!
This is why I decided to take a little time away from blogging to try and get fit, healthy and find my constantly disappearing smile. In the past four days I have caught a tummy bug so couldn’t eat, but that’s probably a blessing in disguise after the past few months of stuffing chocolate, cakes and biscuits in my ever increasing tummy and drinking alcohol to drown my ever increasing sorrows! As you can see I’m not exactly back to peak health or even smiling all the time, but my other body parts seem to be on the mend and I’ve discovered Jakeman’s menthol throat and chest sweets at 65p, which is a result. During show week to aid my voice and that of half the cast I had to purchase six packets, I’m now making enquiries about shares! I may still have a million and one things to do but at least it is half term and the sun is shining, well at least for one day, so I thought I’d do a catch up!
Thankfully my cough and cold was at its worse the week before the show, so I didn’t have to risk losing my voice in show week like last year. Mid week back then my voice disappeared whilst I was playing the wailing ghost of Frumer Sarah in Fiddler on the Roof. My son sang falsetto side of stage, whilst I waved my arms around mouthing the words, thankfully behind a veil! The sad thing was he sounded better than me with a voice.
This year the character I played was happily ‘old’ just like my body which keeps reminding me of its ever increasing age! When I tore my knee ligament and couldn’t walk let alone dance, I was taken out of the one dance I participated in to sit and watch as ‘old’ people apparently do! During show week I wore a knee support under my long length dresses, to remind me and my knee to be careful. Apparently, when I fainted on stage (part of the plot, not a new health issue!) I gave a little flash as my dress rode up, it was like I was wearing knee length bloomers and indeed looked like the ancient old biddy I was pretending to be.
Leading up to show week we had several long rehearsals and the week before I ventured up to Shepperton wig company with two of the other leading ladies to have a wig fitted. It is an amazing place and they do such a great job, sadly I didn’t do such a good job of wearing it! On my visit, they found a wig that was a suitable colour and fit for my head. It was then left to be suitably styled for the period, before being collected for the Saturday of show week.
On the Saturday all cast wore costumes, I was given my wig in a box and we had a successful full dress run with make up. Show week always seems to necessitate a number of pub visits to celebrate or reflect on the afternoon or evenings rehearsal and this rehearsal was one of those.
Sunday is always one of my favourite days of show week as it is band call. This time our day was a little different as we hadn’t our usual crew to put together the set, instead we did it ourselves. It was a real group effort to put together the S.S American, which involved painting, shopping and DIY! I’ll let you guess which two out of three I was involved in! The band sounded great and brought the show to life. In the evening we did all entrances and exits on and off stage, addressing problems and spacing any big numbers. It was a long, tiring day but one full of great team spirit. My struggle to get up for work the next day was sadly lacking in team spirit and my entrance and exit needed serious addressing!
Monday was dress rehearsal with microphones, lighting and all props. It was a full run off the show and it was great to see it finally come together. Show week is a time for me when mascara goes out of the window and lashes come in. Sadly, I can’t put them on myself, so I was lucky to find my own personal untrained beauty therapist in the dressing room who patted, stuck and struggled to attach my new long false eyelashes to my newly sensitive eyes which weep at the drop of a hat! Once I added a wig, a hat, a costume, some make up and a small dog, I transformed into a posh old bird, or Mrs Harcourt. Cheeky the dog was well behaved, I though I was an expert with dogs and working with children and animals was a breeze!
Tuesday was opening night. I thankfully had no notes from the rehearsal, but my wig was causing me issues. I needed help to get it on my head. It was removed, refitted, tweaked and twizzled. Cheeky continued to behave, costumes and set looked great and the audience loved the show. It was a fantastic feeling.
On Wednesday we had a crowd in who whooped and shouted and gave us a standing ovation. My wig was still a tight fit and as I adjusted, tweaked and twizzled I announced “I feel like that woman on the Sound of Music who bows all the time on stage, all I need is some plaits across the top of my head with my bun.” Cheeky the dog again did as he was told, but my quick dresser who was not a child or an animal did not! She failed to turn up side of stage and I only just appeared through the stage ship door with the jewellery and lifebelt I had struggled to get over the wig and hat on time! Thankfully the harassed, dishevelled look fitted the part and everyone thought my acting was particularly good that night.
On Thursday my wig helper came over and said “I’m trying to see how we can make your wig look less severe. I think the issue is your forehead, you need eyebrows!” EYEBROWS? I have never had a need for eyebrows with a fringe, so this was a beauty and make up first to be excited about! I looked in my make up bag and found the only item that matched my eyebrows which was a black eye liner and drew on eyebrows. Sadly, I looked even more severe, as pirate eyebrows wasn’t the required look. The eye liner was removed, I was mocked and my beauty therapist entourage increased. Along with a lash fixer I now had an eyebrow fixer and brusher. I realised I was making my way around the dressing room ladies in order to be beautified and look half decent! Eyebrows did make a difference and I realised they were not just a line across the eye. Thursdays performance went well, my dog expertise continued, my quick dresser turned up, but I looked like I had wet myself on stage. My future stage husband slammed his glass down, it smashed and the water went over my lap as I mustered up all my acting skills to pretend nothing had happened. Dogs and children are a breeze, men need training.
It’s Friday. I survived a week at work, but am tired and relieved to reach the weekend. I might have forgotten to wear my gloves and I wore the wrong hat with the wrong outfit, but the show continues to go from strength to strength. The singing is louder, dancing sharper and the acting snappier. Cheeky the dog however looked like he was going to cock his leg during the finale and I had to drag him off stage to much audience laughter. My acting and line remembering is improving, my dog training is slacking.
It’s Saturday and the last day of Anything Goes. On arrival at the theatre I find my name is at the top of todays final NOTES and I am the talk of the show- FIONA PLEASE WEAR YOUR WIG THE RIGHT WAY ROUND!
Honestly Fiona, would you believe it? All week I wore my wig back to front a bun at the front or the side, what a plonker! The director had watched the show on Friday and wondered why the other two wigs looked good and mine was so severe. He looked at it in the box and worked out the issue was me! Looking back at photos, it now seems obvious!
Both shows went well, we were all on a high the adrenaline was rushing, the energy was up and Cheeky the dog sat down on stage in the finale and refused to budge. He was tired. I was tired, I’m old for goodness sake! I had to pick him up and take him off stage for both performances and of course he stole the limelight. I take it back. Working with animals is not a breeze, its unpredictable.
As the final curtain went up and we had more standing ovations, we knew we had been in a fantastic fun show. Audience members asked if we were going on tour, others said we were better than professional shows they had seen and we knew we had done a good job in entertaining people.
After the show we had the job of taking down the set and vacating the theatre and dressing rooms. it was all done by midnight and some of the cast came back to our house for a party. My garden now has a newly painted furniture set, my kitchen table now has kitchen chairs returned and my roof is awaiting a shed full of costumes and props to be returned to it.
The after show party went on all night for those that were up to it, whilst I snuck off to sleep at 2.45 am and tried to block out the noise from downstairs. Six months of rehearsal, show week and. . .
Honestly Fiona xxx