16 Opening Night
We rehearsed for the Panto for 2 hours. That's all the time we had before the "audience" would arrive. To say I was a little under-prepared would be a down rite lie. I had never been so un-prepared for something since my GCSE's.
Before I knew it, it was time for our performance and I couldn't tell if the butterflies in my stomach were there because I was nervous about performing in front of an audience for the first time in a long time or if I had butterflies because if my performance wasn't up to scratch I'd be vaporised.
My Pre-End dreams were quite nice compared to the ones I suffer each night in this nightmarish reality, however one of the reoccurring ones I had in my past was about going onto a theatre stage with no idea of my lines or what I was doing. I always thought, in my dream, how has it come to this? How has the director let me get to this point? But here I was. About to live my dream, which was really more of a nightmare thinking about it.
I stood in the wings as music began to play from the pit, all coming from musical instruments that had no one playing them of course. The music they were playing, I'd never heard before, and then the curtains opened to reveal our "chorus" or "ensemble" if you're trying to give them a fancy name.
Remember, I'd not seen the chorus, I'd been in a room for two hours with a half spider, a man made of stone, a singer who couldn't sing and a transvestite, trying to come up with a show to perform. In reality we only came up with a loose plot as an hour and a half was taken up with Ben Orlock, the man of stone, regaling us with a story about when he played the King of Hearts. So these Chorus members, were all new to me. I didn't even know we had a chorus.
The chorus consisted of various lobotomised individuals, including Farren (who had been sitting in the corner of the rehearsal room) wearing his fancy Bermuda shorts. The curtain had been up several minutes before the chorus began to move. They did a little dance (if you can call it that) and then scarpered off.
For several moments the stage was empty. I looked into the other wings and saw all the other cast members looking both confused and scared, all thinking the same thing. Who would be the first to go on? I'd like to say that I had the balls to make the first move, but it was the guy without any balls who did. Leo East, the widow Twanky.
I've got to hand it to him, he was amazing. He had obviously been doing this for a long time and I think the fact he now believed that he was no longer acting, but was in fact the widow Twanky helped his performance. The Audience were laughing and cheering at the correct moments and it made me relax a little bit.
Next on came the hero of the piece, Jack. played by Izzy Book. Izzy, as I had stated, used to be fantastic. Used to be. This girl began her song and my brain nearly liquidized. It was the most shrill, awful, and downright spine tingling noise I'd ever heard. Ever wake up to hear cats having sex? They make a noise that is creepy and painful at the same time. The vocals that came from Izzy made me want to go out and buy a CD of cat sex noises, it was that bad.
But she was applauded! My god, they loved her! I couldn't quite get over this, and once again I relaxed. If they liked that, then I was sure they'd like me. But next came the daughter, played by Hagley's half-arachnid sister, Jaki. I heard someone shout "My god, what is it!?" before hearing a noise that was that someone being vaporised. (Audience participation is mandatory, but only at the allotted moments)
I had to take my hat off to Jaki, if I'd been wearing one I mean, as even though her spider legs were vomit inducing to look at, they made her a great dancer. The tap number she did would have made Fred Astair look like a drunk-hobo on a podium at a nightclub.
They cleared the stage and the villain came on, Ben Orlock. His first scene, lasted an hour. AN HOUR! As he repeated his lines over and over and over and over and over and over again. I was about to drift off when I realised it was mine and Hagley's time to shine (or die)
She squeezed my hand and smiled at me, this whole event had cleared her insanity for a moment it seemed, and we went onto the stage.
When you're on a stage, it sometimes hard to see the audience thanks to the bright lights from the lighting rig, but there were no lights in this production, so I could see the auditorium was full of smiling faces. No bodies, just faces. Scary scary faces, like something the BBC would have rejected for a Dr. Who episode as they were too scary.
For a moment, Hagley and I just stood there looking at them. Their smiles slowly dropped and the look of joy on their faces seemed to be being replaced by anger. We had to do something, and do it fast. Hagley began and before I knew it we had them laughing their socks (impossible as they didn't have them) off.
That's all I remember about that first night, the following nights all merged into one and Hagley and I had been performing for the best part of four months (pre-end time) before we were rescued from the trance we'd fallen into. But our escape wasn't easy, and a lot of good people died.
On that note, I'm heading off to bed. Hopefully I'll survive to continue this tale...