Sat 31st May 2014 saw the final performances of ‘We Will Rock You’ in the West End.
It was slightly unreal as on stage for both performances we had Brian May and Roger Taylor performing with the cast. It’s not the first time I’ve followspotted Brian May performing ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ (Oct 2013 for the cast change) but this felt very different.
Someone in the audience recorded the final performance of ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ and ‘Show Must Go On’ – look out for a particularly awesome snap at the end of Bo’ Rap. I’m the side spot on the left (of the video, so Brian May’s right).
I’m going to be doing some cover work at the Aldwych over the next couple of weeks so I’m not as unemployed as I feared I would be (it’s quiet out there for spots at the moment, what with various shows closing).
Well. It’s that time again. Time to dust off the ol’ CV and walk around the West End handing CVs to stage door keepers, hoping that you’ve got the timing just right so your CV is the first one the Chief sees.
The first show I worked on to get its notice was Dirty Dancing and I decided not to stay until the end. I took a job on a new musical called Lend Me a Tenor which unfortunately got its notice four months into the run – so far the only show I’ve opened and closed. The next show was The Wizard of Oz. We found out it was closing via the posters – no one ever actually came and told us that we were closing!
It’s a strange feeling when you do finally get confirmation that you’re going to be out of work. During the lead up to the actual meeting there are rumours flying around the theatre, the West End and annoyingly on message boards like Broadwayworld and WhatsonStage. When the announcement is made or the poster is put up at stage door letting you know there is a full company meeting you know what’s coming – now it’s really just a question of when.
Dirty Dancing got five months notice. Lend Me a Tenor got two weeks. I’m not sure what The Wizard of Oz was, I think the date went up on the posters maybe six months before. We Will Rock You has three months, which has been the biggest surprise. I always thought that WWRY would be the type of show to go out with a huge advertising campaign but things have changed a lot in the West End.
WWRY has been a fixture in the West End my entire professional working life and was the first West End production I ever saw (in 2002, not long after it opened). I never really thought that I’d end up not only working it but seeing it out at the end.
It’s going to be very strange going past the Dominion Theatre and not seeing Freddie.
My Xbox 360 arrived on Wednesday, nice and early around 10am.
Okay so my set up is not… beautiful, but I have an Xbox, more importantly I HAVE FALLOUT 3! I’ve also got ‘Fable II’. I did buy ‘Mass Effect’ but for it turned out to be through one of Amazon’s little partners and the company sent me a NTSC format game – I don’t care if there is a slim chance I could play it (my TV really won’t do NTSC playback), I’d much rather have a PAL format game that I know will definitely work. So that’s on it’s way back and I’m going to pick up a copy from HMV or something.
Points of Possible Interest
1) Russian/English Dictionary – I’m learning Russian, the book above it is my grammar book.
2) Shark things – there is a plastic shark from the Shark Trust on top of my router, there are some megalodon teeth by the calendar (courtesy of a friend) and there is a sticker (the blue thing on the desk) that says “Warning, Sharks inside!” For some reason our VL lamps come with a sticker.
3) Cuddly!Holmes – ’tis awesome and cute 🙂
It’s a bloody good job you can’t see the rest of the floor, it’s in a right state. Much mess, planning to get things tidy this week!
So ‘Fallout 3’.
Very, very different to the original games. Firstly, it’s not 2D isometric top down but 3D more FPS-esque RPG rather than what I’d consider to be pure RPG. It’s a bit simpler (in terms of controls) than the first two, but that’s not a bad thing. I love it, but I do miss some the humour of the original games (“Moo, I say!”) and the brahmin aren’t as cute looking in 3D.
I was originally a bit worried about playing it on a console with a controller as I suck really badly with the PS2 one, however the Xbox one seems to be a bit better designed. I like how the two wiggle sticks are set differently to the PS2 ones, it doesn’t cramp my hand as much and nor do I get too confused with the “look around” and “move” functions.
I haven’t had a chance to play ‘Fable II’ yet and despite my Xbox coming on Wednesday, I had an early call today (Thursday) for maintenance and my ‘flu jab… and not only that Friday & Saturday at matinee days with a noon call for me! Oh well, all day Sunday it is!
One of the weird things about theatres is the amount of time we spend talking about ghosts. One of the first things that we did during the technical (I say ‘we’, I mean those of us in the LX box) was to google “Aldwych Theatre+Ghosts”, we didn’t find any so we ended up thinking that we are in one of the few West End theatres that isn’t haunted. However, recently there was a full page spread (just before Halloween) about a book published by two ex-stage managers who have worked in the West End who happen to be… er.. psychic, according to one of our followspot deps it mentions the Aldwych. Intrigued we went hunting and discovered that we’re haunted by “ghostly smells”, cigar smoke and jasmine – our stage door keeper confirms that he’s smelled them but I have to say, we are next door to a hotel.
So, I ordered a copy. I knew about one of the authors, Becky Walsh, was when I worked at the Phoenix I was told about her (she was once the DSM there). Walsh claims to be psychic and a sensitive, she and another ex-stage manager turned psychic called Ian John Shillito went around the West End theatres conducting interviews with people who had, had experiences and doing some ‘investigation’ (séances and Quija boards…).
I talked to our stage door keeper about their all-night vigil (he was there for it, in fact he’s in one of the photographs as well as my chief lx) at the Aldwych and he told me a story that is much more interesting than what they published… so anyway, select quotes from ‘Haunted West End Theatres’ by Ian John Shillito and Becky Walsh, published by Tempus Publishing Ltd in 2007 about the Aldwych Theatre.
Apparently we’ve had ‘general poltergeist activity’ in the bar.
Becky sensed a male presence by the bar, “He’s not here very often but he moves things, turns things off or shift things. It’s not threatening, it’s just his sense of humour, he stands with his elbows on the bar and watches and laughs.”
The stage door keeper told me that when he took the final person of their party down to the stalls bar, Becky Walsh turned to him as he walked in and said that “the angry man by the bar wants the gay man in the room to go away.” (paraphrasing, but it was basically that). Our door keeper stuck around for the séance they did, he said that stuff happened but it was more feelings.
I’m very sceptical about this sort of thing, I don’t dismiss the possibility but I really think the explanation is wrong (it’s not spirits, it’s something else)… I’d actually quite like to experience something that I can put a definite finger on. I have had two weird experiences at work but you can pretty much explain them both.
The first one was when I was working in the auditorium right box, I was stripping down a VL 2000 (moving light) and had propped the door open to the box and I was behind the black working. I heard someone come up the stairs and I was expecting the AV operator or the production LX to walk in… but no one did, and I scared myself and took the colour module down to stage level to clean it.
The second one was when I was shutting down the rig. I’d gone up to the fly floor through the door rather than go up the ladder, I closed the door behind me ‘cos it was raining and it would have banged shut because of the wind. After I’d switched off the dimmers I went back to leave and I saw someone climbing down the ladder on the prompt side wing (I was opposite prompt). I called out thinking it was someone from stage department doing something before leaving, but I didn’t get an answer so I walked across the cross-over to shout down the ladder at them… but there wasn’t anyone there and it takes awhile to climb down the ladder. Still doesn’t mean it wasn’t anyone from the stage department.
So, if you’re interested the book I’m talking about is available from Amazon and is a nice price.
Something I saw today in ‘The Stage’ made me giggle. The BBC are having an open casting call for people to wear dinosaur costumes and be part of their ‘Walking with Dinosaurs: The Area Spectacular’ thing they’re going to be doing, the audition consists of “a high-level physical endurance test and Dinosaur suit manipulation.”
Finally, make your own Enterprise!