Sleeping Beauty – Show Roundup

This year’s pantomime was a slightly unusual Victorian style affair. The songs were old music hall numbers, surprisingly tricky to learn and sing. The run started with a degree of apprehension, even the director seemed less than one hundred percent confident in it all after the last dress rehearsal.

Yet, somehow in front of an audience it all came together beautifully. Lines were remembered, cues delivered.  The village idiots built their part every night providing wonderfully light relief. The audience actually joined in with some of the songs. The special effects, especially the flying car drew applause and even more importantly proved that there is a good use for PowerPoint!

I found myself playing an interesting array of parts. In what might be considered typecasting I was once again a servant (this time male – yay for panto) who spent most of his time running away from the Dame. One hundred years in the future (you remember the plot of Sleeping Beauty I hope)  I was a futuristic senator with the ability to produce a surprising array of items from up my sleeves.

©Josh Parker

©Josh Parker

Best of all though, I was the head of a wonderfully impressive dragon although sadly I lost the fight with the Prince every night. How is that fair?

And so, with a happy ending every night, a happy cast and crew and an equally happy audience, we put on quite a show.

Header photo ©James McCann (@MovingScenes)

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Snow White – Show Roundup

Our pantomime is over,
This story of Snow White…

And before you know it, it really is over. In the way of all shows the run has gone by incredibly quickly but there are some things that make this panto very special:

  • It was my first performance in a pantomime.
  • It was the longest run I have ever done (12 shows). I would happily have done more.
  • I was less nervous than I have ever been about performing. Having only four lines meant I was almost completely free of stage fright. Singing and dancing is somehow different from acting (probably because it wasn’t solo).
  • I loved the non-performance parts of my role, both being a ‘cauldron wrangler’ (while simultaneously being a dancer) and managing the microphones backstage.

In short, I had fun and that makes all the effort worthwhile. That and the enthusiasm of our audiences of course. I think they had fun too and that really makes it worthwhile.

Song and Dance

Somehow the year has flown by and here we are less than a month away from Christmas and, even more scary, only a week away from our pantomime.

Pantomime fascinates me. It relies so heavily on the enthusiasm and involvement of the audience, which makes rehearsals the only ones in which shouting from the stalls is actually encouraged. It also involves so many different components, not least of which for me is the singing and dancing.

I am occasionally frighteningly aware that I haven’t danced ‘properly’ in nearly a quarter of a century and I can’t help feeling that my memory was better then. Still, I’m having a wonderful time. Dance rehearsals are tiring but incredibly satisfying. Add in the singing and I appear to have taken on an immense challenge but it’s one I’m enjoying.

It remains to be seen whether I can simultaneously dance, sing and smile on the night, but believe me, I’ll be having fun. Oh, yes I will.

I Really Did

So having auditioned for the pantomime, I’ve got a part in the chorus. I’m sure at some point (when rehearsals start) I’ll be wondering “what have I done?” but for now I’m just looking forward to it. Roll on December.

Oh Yes I Did

It may seem like an odd time of year* but I auditioned for a pantomime recently. Now I’ve only seen about three pantomimes in my entire life so I was entirely out of my depth in every way but I was persuaded to give it a go anyway.

When we got to the theatre I felt a moment of panic at the sight of three microphones at the front of the stage but they were quickly cleared away and we got on with the process of reading through several scenes. As usual once I set foot on stage I felt much more comfortable and enjoyed myself greatly.

Still I knew that some singing was going to be required eventually and I was incredibly nervous about it. Finally the microphones were moved back on stage and I was one of the first three asked to get up and sing. We were given printed lyrics and I thanked my lucky stars as the song was “Any Dream Will Do” which was the first song I ever sang with my singing teacher!

Without warm up or even a listen but thankfully with a recording to sing along to the three of us had to launch into it together. Looking at the paper in my hand and trying to ignore the room full of people I concentrated on singing confidently aware that I’d actually sound better that way. I even eventually found enough mental space to look up and smile while singing.

Then we had to sing it again, this time one of us singing a verse at a time. I concentrated on which verse I had to sing and launched into it when my turn came. Bizarrely because my voice was amplified I had the sensation of singing along with myself. I could hear what I was singing and yet it didn’t sound like my voice at all, so amazingly didn’t freak me out.

Thankfully I sat down at the end to listen to the next group of three victims singers.

However we were not yet done. In the same groups we had to get up again and sing another song, this time Christina Perri’s “A Thousand Years”, a song I’d never heard (heck, I haven’t even heard of Christina Perri!). Somehow I managed to sort of sing along to this and when it came to the solos (this time one line at a time)  I decide that I might as well go for the ‘making the song my own’ approach and sing the words in whatever tune seemed to fit and not worry if it wasn’t exactly like the original. To be fair we were helped by the fact that several of our audience did know the song and therefore sang along with some of it too.

Now I’m not expecting to get a part and frankly right now that bothers me not at all. Mostly I’m just thrilled that I managed to stand up and sing in front of people without it going too badly wrong and also perhaps more amazingly, I actually enjoyed it a little bit.

It’s so unlike me that I’m left wondering did I really do that?

*Although it’s always panto season in our house