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Betty’s Blog: Rehearsals

January 20, 2014

Tuesday 14th January 2014

Discovered a curious thing about the DLR (Docklands Light Railway). If you get on at Pontoon Dock, which looks at the Thames Barrier, nearly every train whisks you to Stratford (Home of the Olympic Stadium) in about fifteen minutes. If you try to do the reverse, hardly ant trains go there! I’ve now learned that a swift way to get to Brick Lane is Jubilee line and a quick change, and I’m there in no time!

Rehearsed today mostly in the auditorium, while Chris and Connor used the stage to set scenery, and Hayley Jane choreographed the dancers. We worked on the dialogue and the routines. Not set in stone we have looked at a few “Three Hander” gags, the most popular I think will be “The Busy Bee”- a very traditional routine that involves water… for more details Paul Harris’s book has ALL the routines laid out! I’m not in this one, as it will give me the much needed time to change into my “Copacabana” costume backstage.

I’ve got seven costumes if I can get them all in to the show. Two “Workers”, a Quick Change Coat, A “Copacabana”, A “Deckchair” , a costume for the “Drill Routine” and a finale costume, along with six wigs and five pairs of shoes, two giant collars and a plumed headdress with fruit and feathers- of course!


Brick Lane Music Hall is quite Bijou backstage. It has dressing rooms to accommodate about fourteen or fifteen people, but the wings are not spacious. The Stage Right Wing is a place I’ve not tried to get on and off, I stick to Stage Right- in my wigs and in my heels I’m much larger than life- about 7′ in a wig I suppose, and some of my costumes are pretty wide. I’ve got to work out the order of quick changing and ease of entry by Thursday, and in fact, I’m thinking about working in my costumes from tomorrow onwards to try them out in the space. I’ll bring them in tomorrow.

Today we had yet another incredible lunch, all sitting along a vast table. Very jolly that is! We’re surrounded by props and pieces of scenery, and of course the posters and “bills” on the wall of the Music Hall. A Very theatrical setting.


We decided on a “Drill” routine, where Paul James as Captain will lead Andrew, Hayley Jo and myself through the drill (or Mop routine you can call it) on board the ship.We ran that, and sorted out the “Hat” gag. These were just roughly worked out, and we’ll wait for Andrew to arrive tomorrow to actually set them. Started on some of the musical numbers as well today- which for me is the last two ensemble numbers at the end of the show. I’ll go through the “Copa” number with Hayley Jane tomorrow.

Worked through until about five or six and headed off for Pontoon Dock. Canary Wharf looks amazing from the raised platform of the Docklands Railway. It looks like a miniature Manhatten, and the cable cars travelling from the Excel arena to the O2 are lit up and look like a fairground ride- which, in a way, I suppose they are! Does anyone actually commute on them I wonder?

Wednesday 15th January 2014

Joined today by Andrew Robley, direct from the Atlantic Ocean! We blocked him into the scenes and then ran through Act One slowly until lunch.

Frank Kershaw is joining us to finish off the costumes he’s making for the Panto. All brand spanking New, he soon filled Dressing Room Two with costumes, sewing machine, Overlocker and bolts of fabric. Like Rapunzel, I think he gets locked in there until he has spun gold! Andrew’s over-the-top costumes as “Tommy The Cat” are amazing. Think Julian Clary meets Dame Edna with a Feline Twist! Delighted to see Stevie Marc, who has played “Sister” many times arrive with Annie- Anne Galbraith, who of course was Danny La Rue’s close companion and Wardrobe Mistress for a great many years. Annie and Stevie were in to drop off some wigs for this production and to say “hello!”

So now it is all getting VERY theatrical. To add to the fun, Rusty has brought his son Ben Goffe in to arrange and set the fight between his Dad as King Rat and Andrew as Tommy.


Ben has just completed another season in “Dick Whittington” as Captain. This year at the Opera House, Manchester for FFE (with Eric Potts and a certain canine superstar- no, not Lassie…) and spent the day with us sorting out the fight. He, Annie , Frank and Stevie joined us in what is now apparently (according to Martin in the BL office) THE longest lunch table to date!

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We ran through the show slowly, adding the dancers as we went. This morning Andrew Ryan gave me a hand in with my costumes from the KMT store up the road. I’ve brought extras just incase something doesn’t work. In fact through trying them out this early I discovered my second costume is just too wide to get onstage. The crinoline catches in everything, so it has been jettisoned in favour of.. The West Ham Dress! Bearing in mind we are right in the middle of West Ham territory here, that should be a fun choice. To mix things up though, I’m wearing it under my long Arsenal coat, to reveal after the booing has died down!


A long day running all that we could with the company, and we left to the sound of Frank’s sewing machine drowning out the noise of the planes next door!

Thursday/Friday 16th & 17th January 2014

We’ve been joined by Bill McGee on percussion today. I believe he’ll be sharing some shows with Andy Pook, working alongside David Harvey on keyboards. The girls have been set into my “Copacabana” number, renamed “At The Market”, and look gorgeous in Red Sequins. By sheer chance their frilled sequinned costumes are made by Mr Bahal of “Taurus” Fashions- who made my Copa costume. Small world the world of glitz innit!


Bill, and David- Nigel with The Boys In The Band!

Today I wore every costume and managed to find a way of getting them on and off and out of everyone’s way as they enter and exit. Michael is now looking after the wings and is on tabs, and Gary is watching the show and starting to finish his microphone order ready for the Dress rehearsal.


Andrew in understated worker costume & Saskia as Dick

These two days have now blurred in to one! I think Thursday was a Technical, but I wore everything, so When Friday became a Dress rehearsal I was a bit more relaxed. The others will be wearing theirs for the FIRST time, and will have Friday and Saturday Afternoon to get used to them. They seem to have a worker costume, a nautical (blue and yellow) costume, a Ship Wreck costume, and a finale. The dancers Lauren, Stephanie and Bethany have an extra two I think and everyone has a Green, Red & Gold finale. Andrew as Tommy I think has a good few more!

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Rusty All at Sea!

We ran through a full tech with as many costumes as possible, and all the routines- the Hat Gag, Drill, The Busy Bee and a routine in my shop. I have two spots in Act One which lead into scenes, and in Act two scenes leading into the Drill Routine, and into my song before the fight scene, the denouement and, of course a short song sheet during which we ALL change frantically, not quite knowing how long there is to change in! All this will become second nature in a few shows time! For now it is very fast and furious!

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All ready for final dress rehearsal tomorrow at 2pm and the opening night, to a full house at 9pm, after the audience has been well feed and watered!



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