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Opening Night!

December 10, 2020

Wednesday 9th December 2020

Opening Night or “Whoops, I did it again!”

More of that later! We rehearsed this afternoon, out of costume, changing a few things – musically as well as scenes, and I arrived at 1.45pm which is pretty leisurely for the norm. Delighted we are at the stage we are at- and we tightened up a few things, then ran Act Two without costumes.

No pics at the moment- No time to take any, or ask Front Of House for any- The opening night is always the same. A sort of in controlled but slightly scary blur!

I tend to go very quiet and calm before the opening show. This is my 46th Pantomime, but that feeling of – its not nervousness.. it’s.. It is so hard to describe-Apprehension? It never goes away. I get ready early (unusual for me. I thrive on getting ready in a hurry) I am finding quiet places to go through lines in my full costume.. I pace. You meet up with your fellow artistes. They too smile grimly and go into quiet corners to do mantras or lines or just.. stay very very calm!

Our audience tonight- the first of its kind after months and months of lockdown, and empty auditoriums, was immensely rewarding. A year ago the audience I opened to numbered over 1,400. Tonight 140.The Socially Distanced Allowance. The energy from us was the same, and the response of the audience was the same. No difference. Just a little more joy on both sides at actually being in a live show!

Our audience was in part members of the NHS. Foolishly I thought I could sail on and do the “Parties, schools and groups list” and thank them and get away with it. I came perilously close to becoming tearful in asking everyone to applaud them. What an amazing job they do every single day. We, as a company were humbled they came to see us. Truly.

Now, I did say “Ooops I did it again!”. For the second time in my career as a professional Strip Tease Artiste in Haunted Bedrooms I made an error. I texted John Evans in the interval – John was in the Panto I did this “ooops!” before.

A strip involves twelve items of costume which are put on, and then weighing a ton, you waddle onstage and remove them swiftly to music in One minute and fifteen seconds.

Tonight I wore eleven items.

Instead of finally revealing “Wonder Woman” as my final garment before sailing behind my screen, I revealed.. no Wonder woman. Unlike the newly released film, She was not in evidence. She was on a hanger in the Quick change. I was on stage, ripping off top and bloomers to reveal where she should have been.

Ooops. Luckily I had randomly put on a pair of purple hot pants a few scenes earlier for a costume. I was revealed in a flesh coloured bodysuit to all purposes naked except for said pair of shorts and a microphone bag with “NIGEL” written in felt tip on it, and a battery pack hanging behind. I had no idea I was “naked” until after the bedroom scene when I met Molly in the Quick change. I was delighted to show off “Wonder Woman”. I flounced! I posed! I had NO idea why there was a collective gasp. OOOOPS- I did it again!

This show is being streamed…. FORTUNATELY NOT LIVE! – Tomorrow there will be a chance to edit the end of the strip when a sign saying “Censored” will float infront of my apparent nude bits. The live audience seemed not to mind, and the Haunted bedroom went down a storm!

The show went really well, the audience was just- just so pleased to be there, as were we. There is NO substitute for live theatre, but at least if you prefer not to visit a theatre, there are many opportunities to live stream or recorded stream a Panto this season. You might see the censored version of me- but I think not!

I really cannot say how relieved I was it all went so well- a credit to the Director, Owen Smith, to His assistant Jocelyn Prah, to a great cast, crew and management who have battled to get this show up and running against all odds. Thank you “Vision” and Redbridge!

Photos to follow- and the story is only just beginning! Regular backstage blogs until January 10th!

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