I looked down at myself last night and found myself wearing blue sequins.
I had changed my clothes around 11 times already and there I was,cowboy hat atop my blond, GHD curled head and Irish shoes strapped to my burning shins.
Nope.Not the newest bad beginning of a wannabe writers manuscript.That would be my life.
I have been asked many times what backstage looks like, entails and all that, and I admit I have been meaning to tell them. But the trouble with that is that if I do tell them,then the glamour and mystique is gone,lost forever.
I don’t care.
It’s not that I intentionally want to give away the magicians secrets,I merely think it’s more interesting (and often amusing) than people realise….but in a whole other way.
I love my job.Fact.No matter how much I moan about it, complain about the utter destruction of my body and swear blind another career is definately the way forward,because hell, I could work in a soup kitchen and still earn more money, I love it. I don’t think I could adequately describe the feeling I get when that last step has been completed and the audience goes wild. Granted, the *go wild * description is more from the US audiences,the Brits as usual being the more demure (demure my ass) set, but yes, clap heartily and occasionally whoop. It is my opinion that any performer at any stage in their game who doesn’t get any feeling from that moment is either stupid,doesn’t really have the passion or should just go home now and stop wasting their time and mine.
I’ll start my dishing with a wee rundown of costume malarky. Let us also begin with the knowledge that backstage is a very dark place and a dancer learns to do up poppers,hooks and eyes and anything else by touch and the vague outline of it plus the knowledge of where the fastening should be.
I say SHOULD be.
Our newer opening is a less spectacular effect yet still requires 2 changes within one number, trousers into sequined dresses.Yes! the class! the glitz! the ragamuffin boy look that just doesn’t cut it on the skinniest member of your cast and that one cast member who is adamant her hair won’t go under that cap.
Folowed by the newer skippy number, the soft shoe, the one with only the one dress but the dance with that one bloody lift in that if it goes wrong, you can’t get yourself out of it delicately, you kind of dangle off the boy’s back like a splayed cabbage,smiling and pretending that was what you meant to do. It’s a moment. I saw the shadow of my curls bouncing as it went wrong last night.Special that moment.
Then comes the Scottish number.I don’t know who’s plaid that is,but I know their ancestors would most likely put a broadsword through me if they could see my highland fling.
Into the Spanish is a semi quick change but until this moment we’ve managed to get away with black tights only,now it’s time for beige legs.The Spanish is also a costume that has 3 parts plus hair-wear…if that rose comes off it’s moorings,your hair ain’t goin’ nowhere.
Now, some girls under-dress said beige tights and whip the black ones off at this moment. I’m not one of these girls, I add the tights.So yes,double tights for me and 3 inch heels that I will now desperately try not to get stuck in the bottom of my flamenco skirt the whole number.
The beige tights are the arsenal of the next outfit but if like me you are tiny,you will have to change twice again in the space of the next number.There’s rolling around in combats that don’t let me kick my leg first, there’s knee slapping, the eventual run up the riser (the damn huge platform at the back of the stage) and the dart off to change into the prettier outfit complete with feathers. I say pretty, it sparkles, and from afar they’re quite beautiful.
I said from afar right?
These tops are a nightmare,a bikini thing and if you get one that’s not yours and you have no idea where the hooks are, better get someone to hold your feathers ready for you as you will be hooking, spinning the top,hoping it doesn’t pop again, fighting with shoes and running on,smiling fantastically like you’ve been dressed that way all night,just waiting to walk on.
When the feathers have gone missing or someone forgot to set them it’s rather hilarious.One feather where there should be 2 is a little eggy once you get to the circle to make nice feather patterns and on one occasion, we couldn’t find them at all and the belly dancing arms were just lovely if you squinted a little.
For me personally,it goes to hell from here to the end of act one. Cue the run-walk off as the boys come on and the running around to the other side of the stage,stripping clothing as you run to don the most flattering black leotard and black trouser combo known to man. Too sarcastic? You’d understand if you’d seen the trousers; Simon Cowell waists because you had little time to roll them down and lycra that rolls up.Oh yes. Sexy.
If my top won’t unhook, i’m losing time, i need every one of those 30 seconds for this one,preferably with around 5 seconds spare to peel the trousers back down to my ankles and to pull that leotard up where it should be boob wise as we’re going to be in press up position in less than 20 seconds.
This number rolls into the beginning of the end of the first act, one more change into my favourite of the sequined dresses, the black one. The running and the changing are not the issue now,the issue is now how the hell am i going to stop that burning that’s been running through my shins since Scottish aggravated them once more.
The answer to that one is that i should have remembered to take the ibruprofen earlier than i did before the show and generally man-up because the interval is indeed coming and between resetting shoes and all kinds of other bits for the second half,i can go and sit down for 2 minutes. 3 sections are coming up of Irish hard shoe that climax into the end of the first act.They’re the most amazing calorie burn and possibly the reason my shins will feel that dented for many years to come….