Tonight is the first night of my final show for the year – the last in a seemingly continuous chain of productions that have taken up my time this year (all of them in a good way). However, rather than being on stage, I’m sitting at home drinking white booze and watching Stacey Solomon completely win me over on I’m a Celeb (and I never thought I’d be writing THAT down).
The reason? The snow. Although we’ve had it forecast for a couple of weeks, the snowfall earlier this week was inevitably a complete shocker to public transport and local councils, leaving around 80% of the cast completely housebound – and probably a similar number of potential audience members. It all comes at the end of what has probably been one of the most stressful years of my life. I “do” my theatre to keep the stress levels down but this year, for one reason and another, it’s all been a little bit mad.
The beginnings of the stress can be traced to summer 2009. One of the theatres still daft enough to allow me on its stage auditions for an entire season in July – so you can find yourself cast in a show that you could be physically, professionally or geographically completely unable to do when production actually starts in up to a year’s time! Last summer I was lucky enough to be cast in my first ever straight play. I say straight play. I actually mean PG Wodehouse comedy (Come on Jeeves), but when you live and breathe musical theatre, you have to start somewhere. The play was scheduled for March 2010 – my birthday coinciding with the first night. I figured it would be a different way to celebrate. At the same time, I’d also decided to move house, having become a little disillusioned with my previous house due to its proximity to, well, certain aspects of my life I wanted to draw a big fat line under (that’s another story). With my job, I have to be careful when choosing my shows as sometimes work means I just can’t commit to rehearsals – September and October are generally pretty hellish. But March was good. In March our big fundraiser would just be over and I’d have a bit of down time before getting busy again for the summer.
Our big fundraiser moved to March. Not just to March, but to the Thursday of show week. Throw in an events team that was short of one staff member and a new CEO and I had my work cut out with the 3 rehearsals each week. But, I did it. I even drove up to London the second the show ended on the Thursday night. Literally. I wore my slutty party dress under my last act costume and shed it in the wings before running out the stage door, switching on the sat nav and putting my foot down all the way to Battersea in time to see the end of Justin Lee Collins’ act and ready for Alesha Dixon (and a lot of free champagne courtesy of our lovely lovely digital agency). The hangover the next night was just about worth it.
As previous blogs have suggested, in the run up to this production I was having a few issues with the sale of my house. As my March production drew to a close I was no nearer a sale, although I did have a buyer. Straight after the play I started rehearsals for a show I’ve always wanted to do, Return to the Forbidden Planet. I lost 2 weeks of rehearsals with a hideous chest infection and didn’t actually get to sing one of my songs “out loud” until the band call (at which point I realised it was way out of my vocal range, but again, that’s another story!). To add a bit of stress to this one, I sold my house. Yay! And I moved house the week before show. Not too stressful as stressful things go but I did have a general sense of exhaustion from getting to the theatre after a day building wardrobes and driving back and forth to the tip – not to mention the horror of realising that my bathroom was completely impossible and trying to find a good deal to have a new one installed.
Still, that’s not really too stressful is it? What happened the week after is probably more stressful. I was made redundant. In a job that had kept me so busy that I invariably worked evenings and weekends, I was suddenly not needed as the new CEO decided she was going to do all my work herself. Good luck luv.
After falling apart for a good week, I picked myself up and got on with rehearsals for my third show of the year, a musical revue in which I had been given some A-MAY-ZING stuff to sing. Real power singer stuff. So, imagine my stress when I got a new job just 2 weeks before show week. I couldn’t take the holiday I’d had booked for show week and, to add to my woes, I had to drive out to Buckinghamshire for 8am on the Friday for a conference – cue more stress and a particularly hairy trip round the M25 on Friday evening to get to the theatre on time.
Phew. Thank God there’s just one show left before I take a looooooooooong break.
Promises Promises is a good one for me. Nothing could go wrong. I had a small (but showy) part and booked the show week off work waaaaaaaaaaaay in advance. I’ve been counting down to my show week holiday for ages as I love being able to go to the theatre and stay out ridiculously late knowing there’s no getting up the next day.
Not only did I come down with a stinking cold on Sunday (the day of our “double run”), on Tuesday it started to snow. Wednesday’s technical and band call was cancelled. Then Thursday’s dress rehearsal. And now Friday’s first night. As I write, we are holding a dress rehearsal tomorrow afternoon and opening tomorrow night. The snow appears to be melting and finally my stress is lifting.
I’m even beginning to regret my decision not to get involved in any more shows for a while. Oh boy …..