Arriving at the Bloomsbury Theatre bought back a flood of memories for me as my last visit was nearly 20 years ago when I saw a soon to be famous Paul O’Grady there, as his venomous alter ego Lilly Savage. Just as the throng of excited Pinkies grew, the heavens opened reminding us that the day of our ‘summer’ concert was finally upon us. We were led down backstage and the buzz of excitement and anticipation was electric. Then there were Pinkies everywhere, running around like kids in a sweet shop, exploring our new domain where we ruled for the day. “How big are the dressing rooms, my mirror, the star on my door?!&rduo;
Backstage, where most people never see, was a labyrinth of corridors, twisting and turning up and around until you find the pass door into the wings and onto the illuminated runway of joy, as Lilly used to call it. I walked out onto the stage for the first time and looked out across the vast expanse of seats that would soon be filled with our paying public. My buttocks clenched and cursed at the thought of my nearest and dearest who would soon be sitting in the second row and wished that my attendance at rehearsals had been as committed as my attendance at the pub and the parties!
We started the rehearsal but this time was different — we all went out into the auditorium and explored there too. We stood, looking back at our stage and the exciting task before us. We sang to it and to each other and it became our space. Then the work started and suddenly we all realised what we had to do and what a show we’d created like no other we’d done before. So many cues, moves, songs, soloists, canes, cabaret, conductors, curtain calls and encores (well almost). We had a master of ceremonies, a barbershop quartet, a piano AND an organ, temperamental stars, sugar plum fairies, a locomotive, Lady Gaga and our very own Dolly Levi. How will I get through it? We need more time!
Suddenly, there was no more time… it was time! The audience were there, the bars were full, the programmes sold and the bums were well and truly on the seats. Pink accessories on! We were in show state. Well, some of us (me) were just in a state! Warm up, cool down, nervous, excited, terrified. In the wings, in the dark, silence.
Then the Pinkies surrounded me and we were together again, as one, our choir, to perform as we love to do, and we filled the room with song and laughter and magic and love.