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Betty’s Blog: Wednesday 22nd January 2014

January 22, 2014

This week we’ve been doing the Matinee Tea performances. Full houses too, and the same again today. The gentleman that “Betty” picked on came from Biggleswade, and I guess the audiences here (a lot arrive by coach) come from far and wide, and very many are regulars

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Saskia & Andrew                                                                Ellie Self as Fairy of The Bells

We were called earlier today as Vincent had some “tidy-up” notes for us, now that the panto has had a couple of runs. Mostly they were notes about working nearer the front (something I’ve never had a problem with!) for sight lines, and altering a few moves, and, in the case of Rusty, his costume. The new outfit works a lot better- no cuddly King Rat here boys and girls!

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Today I allowed myself a tad more time (prompted by Vincent’s notes) to choose a “victim”, I mean, “Member of the Audience” to be Betty’s Toy Boy. I was rushing it a bit for fear of running on a bit long. In fact the timing of the show seems to be spot on, and overall I really did feel myself relaxing into the show. I think its important- if we appear relaxed, the audience will relax and feel they can trust us to take them on this silly journey into Pantoland. By relax I don’t mean be “Laid Back”- to me that is the worst thing you can do in panto- I mean make the audience feel you have full confidence and they can feel at ease with whatever it is you are doing at the time!

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Backstage I’m still doing a bit of racing around- especially in Act Two.

The interval (about 40 minutes for us) is when the magical transformation happens in the Green Room. Plates of pastries and meringues and sandwiches appear. They magically disappear, and then I take over the room for my pre-sets. Copacabana costume gets laid out, with shoes and sleeves next to it. On the other side the Finale Fishtail costume gets laid out with sleeves and wig next to it- once we start Act Two I have no time to set anything- we’re off and running until the end of the show! Thank goodness Ellie magically appears and I make it on to the stage in plenty of time!

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The comforting thing about Dressing Room number Two is that you can pluck a name out of thin air, and someone will respond with “oh yes. Worked with him/her..” or “Ahh yes, Saw him back in …..”, or even “Really. Are they STILL alive?!”. This doesn’t happen in a panto where you are, in fact, the oldest person in the show I can assure you! . Here, in the world of Panto, Music Hall and Variety, the references always hit the target. How many dressing rooms resound with talk of Joan Reagan, Johnny Dallas, Charles Hawtrey and Phil Starr.. of Tommy Osbourne and Terry Gardiner and Joan Hinde…? I may have lost three quarters of the readers of this blog, but possibly not! It is VERY reassuring to discover today, for example, that I am NOT the only person with “May You Always” sung by Joan Reagan on my iTunes. (Andrew Robley, take a bow) and that when you hum “Confidentially” the chances are Rusty Goffe will proffer up the name Reg Dixon! Vincent of course is the encyclopaedia of all artistes Variety, and can tell you where they are and what they ate for breakfast I’m pretty sure!

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Today the audience were lovely, and we all had a jolly time. I deliberately missed out on pastries, and again delighted in leaving the building in daylight, even though it was four thirty!

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Tomorrow the matinee is again at two o’clock, with a slightly earlier call for me to go through the opening bars of “Copacabana” with David, Bill and Steph, Lauren and Beth. We want to get me further downstage as I enter so everyone sees me at the same time. Seems fair enough to me!

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