We opened the show tonight. For months and months of rehearsal, the date February the 8th has been some mystical future that we couldn't necessarily envisage. It has now been and gone. It's worth pointing out that tonight was the third time performing the show on the set with the costumes, so we should have felt quite at home. In fairness, though I think the show was very well received, in some places above our expectations, it felt very much like an opening night.
For my own part, I was mindful of how having an audience chances one's perception of how to deliver the lines and I was also a bit distracted by some of the practicalities of costumes and props. However, the show ran through without me making enough mistakes for anyone except myself and possibly the director to notice. People have been very nice about my part, and I will miss putting on the voice I use for "Big Jule". It is a very silly sounding tone and I take great pleasure concocting phrases to say in it. I started off with "Kinky John" - a Vic Reeves character and then made him bigger, gruffer and, well, my own. I can see how writing character parts could be fun. In some characters, some phrases are just funny.
However, I've not been drafted to write a show here, I've been drafted to be in a big broadway-style musical. As musicals go, I think this one is the most lavish I've been involved in. It's got everything. Love stories, big production numbers, dance routines, comic characters, and even the obligatory religious folks. It's looking to be a corker of a show and I hope I manage to come away with a few photos that I can have to rememner it by. Everything looks stunning.
It takes a lot to admit a certain degree of envy on one's own part. I think I honestly purged my soul in the last post when I admitted that I'd secretly hankered after a role other than that which I'm supposed to be playing in the show. Given that I've prepared for the role I'm now in and I'm enjoying making it my own, it's not right to have greedy eyes looking for alternatives. However, the issue of taking over a song came up and I had to face the possibility of being the substitute.
As a penalty for my cockiness, my own throat and voice are now acting a little tight and suspicious. As it happened, this had no effect on my own performance today. I got a small cramp in my side for some reason. I've had this before when doing silly voices on stage (I used to get it when doing Zippy). I'm not sure what causes it. However, I didn't let it get to me too much. I was, however, worried about the strain on my own voice and my ability to be any better than the guy I might be asked to substitute.
Tonight, the actor with the larynx problems played his own role as written. We left it until the interval to decide whether or not I'd be stepping into the breach. I didn't. However, I recognise the discomfort the guy is feeling. He's lost his top register, which is a nuisance, since the song in question is almost all at the top of the range for a baritone, which is what we both are. I reckon my voice is up to the job, but I'm not hankering after it. It's a pretty tough job to be given: here - go and do a big production number unrehearsed in the role you're doing. People have assumed that I'd be feeling under pressure for this even to be mentioned. I'm not. If the moment arrives, then I'll do the song. I know it well enough to make it make enough sense. The cast know what to do and would part like the red sea for Moses to show me the gap I'd need to fill.
I suspect that it will either happen tomorrow or not at all. I also suspect that some sort of cosmic karma will mean that I lose my own voice at a rate proportional to how much of someone else's part I look on with envious eyes.
It's the 4th birthday of this website. Well, to be more specific, I've just re-registered the Incredible.org.uk domain for another two years, so it's the fourth anniversary of the site. It originally started as a sub-site of www.malross.co.uk, so I'm a trend follower, not setter, and the site has really changed in purpose over the years. I think it has always been about giving me a place to vent my thoughts. Initially, I focussed on the backlash and apostrophell sections. The "blog" (this bit on the front page) was initially just a way of announcing new articles in the sections, or flagging up things I'd seen on other sites. As time has gone on, I've turned the blog into a regularly updated diary. It isn't quite daily, but it's certainly several times a week.
Certain big events get their own dairies in the incredible section. I have, so far, totally failed to write any sort of detailed account of my entire August spent in Edinburgh, which is a real shame, since it was probably one of the most remarkable months in my entire life. Having said that, the last 4 years have been pretty remarkable all round.
When I started this site, I was an engaged 26 year old wearing 50 inch trousers, working long hours in the office and spending my weekends trying to avoid any form of strenuous exercise. Over the course of the site's history, I've returned to living alone (temporarily having a housemate last year), lost a good deal of weight (some of which returned), written two musicals and done work on a further three, and actually produced one of these pieces in 4 cities. I've performed in other companies' productions Chess, My Fair Lady, Camelot and now Guys and Dolls. I've worked backstage in two further productions and will be appearing in another one shortly. I've become a stand-up comedian and performed over 210 gigs in the last 2 years, covering probably about 30,000 miles to achieve it. As well as attending venues to perform, I've also watched a staggering number of shows, I'd say that I've seen at least 150 things at the Edinburgh Festival and then maybe around 50 full scale theatre productions. I've not stopped for more than a couple of days at a time.
I've a lot to say about it all - hence this site.
I plan to do a lot more in the next four years and I hope this site will continue and that anyone who reads it will continue to do so. I've no master plan at the moment. I don't know what I'm aiming at or why I am doing what I'm doing. From time to time I think I long to settle down into a one-to-one relationship with someone (rather than the relationship of a performer to his audience) and devote some time to not running around. However, I think I thrive when I am running around like this. This means that a relationship would have to be with someone who is uniquely understanding. I have a sort of Groucho Marx mentality that suggests that I wouldn't want to date the sort of person who would put up with dating me. Which means I'll probably be running round without ties for just a bit longer.
Oh god. Not this bloody musical again. I think I've reached the stage where I'm glad to be retiring the show. I'm also glad to be retiring it in a blaze of glory... or at least, I'm glad to be intending to retire it in a blaze of glory. I will have forked out more than £11,000 in total to put the show on. This includes the nearly break-even run of the show in Edinburgh, and I've put the "investment" in equipment down as something I didn't expect Edinburgh to pay for. We will have done the show 31 times by the time it closes and will have played to around 1500 people. That's not bad for something which was just a crazy scheme all along.
I've told so many people about the show that I'm starting to bore myself. Don't get me wrong. I'm thrilled by its very existence. It makes people laugh. It can still make me laugh. There are some songs which I am really proud of and a few jokes which I'm still pleased with. I think the problem is that a single one-hour show does not make a career. Therefore, it's time to move on. I want to write a sequel. I'm writing a sequel. There are details in the follow-up show which are really pleasing to me at the moment. But follow-ups are always a risk. We may have a few "fans" from the previous show, but you can't dine out on previous success, which is a good reason for me to put the show to rest come the end of March 20th, and move on to something new.
However, for those people who haven't seen the show, it's a definite must. 17th-20th March 2005 are the last four dates. Newcastle, Glasgow, Glasgow, Manchester. Details on www.the-musical.co.uk. Don't make me have to call you!
I had confirmation of the Manchester date today, which, as well as trying to flog tickets to the other members of the Guys and Dolls cast, is why the show is presently at the front of my mind.
The front of my mind is a busy place
With performances to give or enjoy this month and with communication with friends, old and new, being quite lively, I am still amazed that I am still standing on this early day of February. I've enjoyed one too many late night telephone conversations for my body-clock to understand and I've sent one too many text messages, but I'm still feeling reasonably conscious and coherent. Perhaps reading this later I will realise that I'm wrong.
If I keep moving, everything should be fine. Problems only need solving in time, they don't need worrying about. Life is like a quick-change between scenes. So long as you keep calm and end up looking about right and smiling, it doesn't matter if there's a bit of frantic effort now and then.