Saturday afternoon: We bring Tony, the photographer, with us and arrive an hour early, and leave him in Rose’s care.
I haul my three alternative jackets for Act III up to the changing room. It’s already hot and sweaty up in the recital room where we are changing into our Act I costumes. We are in charge of our own hair and makeup (not that I need to do anything!) We have a very civilised set up with all our costumes in alphabetical name order, on 3 separate racks, one for each act, and we are even shielded from the children and the men, and they from each other. Very different from the scrum of past years. However, still not enough chairs to go round, and no long mirror. There are notices up about coats and shoes and hats for the cherry picking scene, and a pile of assorted gear on a table.
Apparently hordes of people came in yesterday to iron, hem and let out various items, but despite their efforts I have to take scissors to a soprano’s jeans which are a foot too long, and some bits of costume have not returned from being distressed, (“it’s no good, I just can’t go on, I’m not stained enough!!”) and some chorus members are mildly distressed in turn at the lack of pinafore/ shirt etc. until Rosey our assistant Costume Supervisor explains.
I’m glad our first singing is off stage, as it gets rid of any residual nerves before we are in the limelight. A & I get the cue right for the children to hand over their garlands then completely forget to sing for a couple of bars, too busy beaming like proud parents.
We have the real cobs, and the rules: the stalk does have to come off. Shucking is difficult to do with gloves on, and there are leaves all over which I collect up as fast as I can. David manages a paltry eleven cobs, and is commiserated with rather than cursed, which has been our previous take on the scene.
We are allowed to sneak in and watch the letter scene, and then once the sops and altos go off to get ready for the cherry picking, the tenors and basses get to watch our colleagues in action. Jonathon has fun as the postman being teased by the ladies waiting for the Larin’s to join them for an outing, and I totally understand why Nick J is making us pay attention to him or the monitors: across that space, the difference between the speed of light and sound is obvious.
Jonathon, who has copious curls, comments in the tea break that his uniform forage cap won’t go on over his hair, and I offer him some Brylcreem to see if he can flatten it enough, but it just gets super shiny without wilting in the slightest. My suggestion of a hair cut doesn’t go down well; clearly not prepared to suffer for his art!
We still aren’t getting on fast enough at the start of Act II (or off fast enough in Act I for that matter) and for some reason there are too many seats at our table: despite this, not enough chairs are put out for the Cotillion, so the musical chairs goes wrong. Apart from that it goes well; no cake on the floor! Costume have found a fabulously caddish jacket for Damian Thantrey (Onegin) but Nick Sharratt (Lensky) still has about 6 inches of turnup on his trousers, so there is clearly something of a rush on still in the costume department.
We are allowed back in to watch the duel scene which is brilliant, and moving and shocking, though I shan’t say why, I’m not going to spoil it for potential audience members. Very glad we got the chance to see it.
Rosey is very apologetic that they couldn’t find me a proper Tuxedo, and approves the jacket I decide on, which won’t do up, although it is at least the same shade of black as the trousers (who knew there were THAT many shades of black?); which need braces to hold them up, but the braces have broken, and the safety pins are too soft and bend when applied to the leather tabs. (It’s a bit ‘all for the want of a horse shoe nail’ at this point, and I’m starting to get irritable.) However we find a solitary steel safety-pin as opposed to whatever the soft ones are made of, and all is resolved, with moments left to get on stage.
Everyone looks impossibly glamorous in their evening gowns and tuxedos. Kate Valentine is scorching in crimson with matching gloves ( dyed specially?) and the dancers are in Les Sylphides style dresses (apart from the man obviously!), although there are some interesting tattoos on show which aren’t quite period.
We have to do the cotillion again to work out what’s with the chairs, and I have to say musical chairs with ladies in ball gowns is a sight worth seeing.
When we get home we have a preview of Tony’s pictures, all 1503 of them, and there are some stunners in there, very exciting.
Copyright Cherry Potts 2011