Monday, 10 October 2011

Escape to London

Three weeks to go until the opening night of the Cabaret!!!!
I’ve been here before ---- this is the 5th Cabaret I’ve produced for the Shoreham Village Players.

When producing a standard play there is a script to work from so the producer has a structure from the start, but with our cabarets we begin with a blank canvas.
What will our theme be this year? Our previous themes went from “Rocky Horror Show” via “Queen” and “Abba” to our “85th Anniversary Celebration Cabaret” (with songs and sketches from each decade). This year we’ve chosen a “Moulin Rouge” theme.

Once we’ve decided on a theme we have a meeting for everyone interested in taking part, where we bounce ideas around. I love this part of the process, creating a new show out of nothing, capturing, then developing ideas. I feel very lucky that in our small village we have such a wealth of talent …….writers, musicians, actors, singers, dancers and artists.

My aim has always been to include everyone in the village who wants to be involved. I ask them if there is a particular song or sketch they would like to do, then try to incorporate it into the cabaret, …… them the opportunity to make their dreams come true !!!!!

(“A bit of Disney music here please!”)

Then follows a period of gathering music, scripts etc. together and sifting through them to see which would work well with the players in the cast. This can be a period of trial and error, we start with more material than we need then gradually discard some as we move towards the final programme.
Whilst this is going on, we are also thinking about  the other aspects of the production ………backstage, lighting, sound, wardrobe, props, front of house, poster design, tickets. For the cabaret we also have a bar and provide platters of food served at small round tables. The challenge here is to transform the village hall which is used for a variety of functions into a Parisienne night club!

So, why was I unable to sleep after 4am last Friday? I’d had a worrying two weeks because we seldom could get a full cast together at rehearsals. This sometimes happens in am-dram and mostly there were good reasons. I’d sent out an email about it and we’d put in an extra 2 evening rehearsals that week, but I was still worrying, ( I guess the fact that on Wednesday I’d had a wisdom tooth removed didn’t help).

That was when I decided I had to get away!

I phoned my sister to see if she was free to meet up in London the next day. She was, so early Saturday morning she set off from Manchester and I went up to Euston to meet her from the train.

We had a wonderful day together, coffee in the members’ room at Tate Modern, looking across to St Paul’s Cathedral, watching all the activities on the river, then seeing the Gerhard Richter exhibition which had just opened two days before. Ruth hadn’t walked across the (wobbly) bridge so we tramped over to the north bank, enjoying the spectacular views in all directions. I’ve loved this part of London, ever since I was at university there and lived by the Tower of London. So many memories ….. then on the bus to Trafalgar Square to see if there was a rehearsal for that evening’s concert. There was, so we sat down, resting our weary feet whilst listening the Trafalgar Sinfonia  playing Vivaldi and Bach. (I’d discovered this by chance one day when, before getting my train from Charing Cross, I popped into the Crypt café, and found I could go into the church and watch the rehearsals).

We were hungry by then so we wandered up St Martin’s Lane to Brown’s for cocktails and a meal, then Ruth caught the train back to Manchester and I returned to my little village, feeling so much better and ready to think about the cabaret again.

Sunday morning, off to the Oast Theatre to choose some uniforms for the ‘Allo ‘Allo sketch, then on to the village hall for the rehearsal. I felt a bit nervous, wondering how it would be after all the trouble the previous week. I knew it was crunch time. To my relief, everyone who’d said they would be coming turned up; the schedule that I’d spent so long preparing on Friday was kept to, decisions were made, most people had learned their lines, the band played well, the singers sang and the dancers danced.

Best of all, when we stopped to have a tea break, I looked around the hall at the scene which sums up for me what the Shoreham Village Players is all about; bringing people of many different talents and skills together, chatting, laughing , playing music, hearing each other’s lines, serving tea and cakes, sewing costumes and painting sets.

There’s still a lot to do before the opening night on 4th November, but my panic is over as I know it’s going to be alright.

I’m so glad I listened to my inner voice and escaped to London for a day with my lovely sister.


  1. And I am absolutely certain it will be wonderful. I know when I sit there in the audience I will be kicking myself under the table that I'm not up there on the stage; while the other half of me will be sitting back, listening, laughing, cheering and having a fabulous time in the audience.
    I'm so glad you've decided to start writing this blog - I'll be looking out for more. x

  2. Thanks Sharon.Looking forward to seeing you at the cabaret.

  3. Well done. Thanks for asking me to meet you, we had a great day, lots of happy memories. I hope all goes well with the Cabaret. I am so proud of you my special sister. x