Guildford: Opening Night, Fly Bars and Birthdays

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So we’re at the end of our first week and what a week it has been. It initially all started at The Playhouse Theatre in London which was our main rehearsal space and home to the West End production of Dreamboats And Petticoats. Usually rehearsal processes can be difficult because you don’t have any set to work with. Instead you’ll get a chair and a rough explanation of what piece of scenery is moving behind you. However by working on the set of the West End show it allowed us to get more of an idea of where everything was and how long various movements would take. So on Monday morning the cast all arrived at the theatre and we did a very rough run of the entire show before all getting on a train and heading up to Guildford.

This weeks venue was the G Live which isn’t exactly a conventional theatre and is more of a small arena. There aren’t any fly bars, which allow pieces of scenery to fly in from above the stage, and there isn’t a front curtain. Since Dreamboats has quite a few flying bits of scenery this meant we had to make some adjustments to the show. A gauze curtain had to be added for the first scene in order to hide the band as they made their entrance and various parts of the staging had to be changed in order to accommodate the fact that there was no scenery flying in.

Once arriving at the venue we had some time to get into our dressing rooms before heading down to the stage for a sound check. Because there are lots of live instruments played onstage during the show, all the levels and EQ have to be set correctly so that the music sounds right in the auditorium.  This is because each venue is different, so for example the G Live has a very bassy sound which meant the bass guitar needed to be turned down and all the other instruments had to go up a bit. Once you get the sound mix right out front there’s also all the on stage monitors to worry about. The monitors allow us on stage to hear the music and most importantly how what we’re playing works in the mix. Every musician has their own monitor so they can hear everything that is going on, but a lot of the time this sound has to be fine tuned for each individual musician. Some people want to hear more of the drums in order to keep time, the MD may want to have more of the vocals so that they can hear what is being sung and sometimes you ask for other instruments to be turned down because they’re too loud in the mix.

Once the sound check was done it was time for a very rough technical rehearsal, where usually you run through all the lighting changes, all the sound changes, all the costume changes and make sure that everything works like it should. However, because Dreamboats has been touring for a few years already, it meant that most of this stuff was already sorted. It was only the quick costume changes that had to be tested and that was more for the benefit of the cast members who had to do them. Instead of running the whole show cue to cue, which can often take days, we only had to run very select moments of the show which meant we were done very quickly. I say quickly, by this point it was 11pm on a Monday night and everyone was extremely tired. With everything that had happened, the run in London earlier on in the day felt like it had taken place weeks ago.

So onto the first night which went pretty well to be honest. It was a good full audience and when it came to the finale they were all up and dancing in the aisles. Of course the opening night wasn’t without it’s problems, the most noticeable was probably the gauze curtain getting stuck. As we were  heading into the final scene of act one the curtain just refused to come off which meant the full company were stuck behind it. There was a brief moment of confusion before we all tried to carry on the scene as normal in half the space. This carried on for a good 30 seconds as the curtain jerked on whatever it was caught on and the cast all convinced that the show would stop at any moment, until eventually the gauze became unstuck and quickly disappeared. As it flew away into the wings it got a huge laugh and a round of applause from the audience…possibly the biggest all night! On stage we were just glad that it was gone, that the show wouldn’t be stopped and that we wouldn’t have to do the big act one finale song and dance number in half the normal space.

Looking back on it, it was quite exciting and also interesting to see how we coped. After the initial confusion we all just got on with the show until the problem was sorted. My family were watching from out front that night and according to my sister there was a comedy moment when the curtain went off and everyone stepped into their actual positions in perfect time with each other.

The rest of the shows this week passed without a hitch to be quite honest. Because the show was so new to most of us and because it was in such an unusual venue we were all just worried about getting the show up and running. Because of this we were pretty much thinking about the show all the time and so there haven’t really been any other exciting events to talk about.

Well there was one…it was my birthday on Friday. It was my birthday, all my family were in and it was Friday the 13th…what could possibly go wrong? Thankfully nothing actually went wrong, however, it does feel a bit weird that I am no longer a teenager. Yes, I am now 20, but for the record I feel no different. The age of about 16-19 has worked quite well for me because I’ve still been young enough to keep on making my stupid little projects but have been old enough to be taken seriously when it’s needed. I was initially worried that now was the time that I would have to stop making my stupid little projects and actually grow up, but then I see people like Charlie McDonnell and I realise that, if he’s still going strong, there’s no reason for me to stop.

So I think that’s about it for Guildford. As I said before, we were all so focussed on the show that very little happened outside of it this week. Next week we’re up in Sunderland and we have all the flying set pieces to put back in so that should be pretty interesting.

By the way, as I’m not coming back to the studio between Sunderland and Blackpool there won’t be a blog next week. Instead you’ll get a bumper blog the week after. Until next time…

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