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Betty’s Blog- Opening Night!

January 22, 2014

Saturday 18th January 2014


Our longest day in Brick Lane- called at 1pm and left here at 11pm- the normal Dress rehearsal and first night schedule! The 1pm call was for a few notes and then the first time in make-up for everyone.

It is nice to have company! As a rule I make up as Dame on my own, and usually listening to the sound of the audience filling up the theatre- children mostly. This is very different. No children for a start, and a dressing room with four others to be jolly with! The dress run scheduled for 2pm started at 2.15pm after sound checks with Gary,  and pyro tests, and having tried out my frocks for the past couple of days helped, but not as much help as Ellie and Anna in assisting me make every entrance, despite the tight squeeze in the wings!


We finished a very smooth dress run at around 4.30 and I decided to relax and not bother to take the make-up off, despite having something like four hours until the “half!” Sat around and chatted, and downloaded some photographs for this blog in fact! Andrew, The Two Pauls, and co went off to explore nearby Galleons Reach which has a coffee shop, and Mr Goffe and I put our feet up!

By seven o’clock the sound of the audience was getting louder, and the nerves started to kick in!. The set up here is for them to arrive, often in large groups, and having been met by Sue front of House, and by Zara, they are dined and wined through three courses, and them as coffee is served the show starts. There isn’t an exact time of starting, it is dependant on the meals and the number of diners. No excuse for not being ready, as I’d sat about in make-up for so long today!

It reminded me of Billy Burdon, a “Yokel” style comic I worked with a good few years back. Peter Robbins and I did Two Shows a day of Hansel and Gretel (with our mate Sue Hodge) and then in the evenings I did an extra show, a variety show doing my piano spot. I think John Hanson was the star turn. Only I did three shows a day, the “Hansel” lot left around 5pm. Billy did the evening show only, and happened to arrive at 5pm to hear our “call” for the next day. “This is to remind you the call tomorrow is for 9.25am for a 10am performance.”

I think you’ve got the drift? The following morning I went to the wing to enter the Gingerbread cottage only to discover Billy Burdon in his Yokel smock and full make-up looking confused. I explained that he wasn’t called until 7.25pm and wasn’t on stage until 9pm ( eleven hours later) and that is how he ended up sitting in the Green Room for the entire day. In make up! When asked why he didn’t take it off he replied “Damned expensive this stuff. I’m not putting it on again!” Bless!

So, it appeared that the frisson of a full house was what was needed, and entering the unknown, we went up at 9pm with the first performance of “Big Dick Whittington”. I think we did good! They certainly laughed and applauded, and it was so different to go from an audience of 1,500 a few weeks ago to an intimate Music Hall audience seated at tables, glass of wine to hand having a great time! I think everyone was relieved, and buoyed (to be nautical) by the experience. From now on we’ll be sailing together five shows a week or sop until the eighth of March! Rusty got boos as King Rat, and we got laughs, and most importantly this converted church now Music Hall did Vincent proud in proving that panto isn’t just for Christmas, and not just for the kiddies! It is local, funny and loud and vulgar- just like Music Hall should be!


Zara and Joanne brought a few bottles of bubbly supplied by mine host Vincent to the “green room”, which nestles between the two dressing rooms, and the place I do my very quick changes in during the show.


Headed home delighted that the week has turned out so well, and we have a panto that is going to give the audience, and let’s face it- us- some laughs and giggles along the way! Next call mid day on Tuesday for notes, and a 2pm Afternoon Tea matinee performance! Sadly we bid farewell to Hayley -Jane Simmons, and to Director Paul Harris, but they’ll be calling in a few times between now and March. Also said our goodbyes to Frank Kershaw, as all his costumes are done and dusted. They look splendid Frank!

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