Copshaw Cabaret brought the audience to its feet on both nights of its run with a standing ovation and cheers which raised Newcastleton village hall roof.
It was the first production by the Liddesdale Performing Arts Society and hailed as a total triumph. It was all made possible by Claire Musson who brought the group together and made the dream a reality.
IN THE early stages Wednesday night was rehearsal night and I would spend the day feeling nervous. How would it go?
Would anyone have remembered what we did last week? Would I even remember?
Fortunately, Evie, my trusted stage manager, always wrote down exactly what I had told people to do so, with a prompt or two from her, we got there in the end.
Despite the angst, I would always come home after rehearsal feeling relieved and elated. The cast were so responsive and engaged and, well, fun.
My background is working with teenagers who often didn’t listen and, if they did, they quickly forgot, and rarely said thank you.
Working with this cast was quite the opposite; such a breath of fresh air. They have genuinely reignited all that I love about working in theatre.
Having said that, the week leading up to the show featured the usual strains.
Moving into the village hall and adding the technical aspects of the show became my focus.
We spent hours stopping and starting to get the positioning right, the sound and lighting cued and make sure scene changes were quick and slick.
I could see the enthusiasm waning from the cast; they couldn’t remember the last time they’d sung a chorus number in full, with gusto, and it didn’t feel as good as when we were rehearsing in the safety of the community room.
I knew from experience that this was just part of the process. As lights, sound and performance come together, there is a period of adjusting.
I knew the numbers were ready; the cast just needed to trust that it would come together when it mattered, helped by a dose of urgency and healthy fear.
Thank goodness it did. After a dodgy dress run, the first night was perfect. The tech team nailed it and so did the performers, brought to life by a supportive and warm audience. I couldn’t have been more proud.
The individual performances and ensemble numbers were all fantastic in their own right, especially when you know the personal journey of each performer.
If you’ve been reading this blog each week, you’ll know about those, too.
I was particularly pleased with the pace and tone of the show as a whole; a colourful patchwork of musical genre and style.
It opened with the beautiful voice of Cal Edge, as Maria, proclaiming that the ‘hills were alive’ (Sound of Music) and inviting the audience to an evening of wonderful music.
As she returned to the dreary monastery, we snapped to a vibrant and irreverent My God (Sister Act).
The playful Wash that Man (South Pacific), performed by the women, was followed by the rousing Red and Black (Les Miserables) by the men.
The raucous Oompapa (Oliver) was juxtaposed with the heartbreaking loneliness of On My Own (Les Miserables), the traditional, sweet sound of Matchmaker (Fiddler on the Roof) followed by the caricatured and modern sounds of Disney’s Lion King and the tongue-in-cheek schmaltz of Beauty School Drop Out (Grease).
Just a few examples of what kept the show moving quickly and, boy, did it fly by.
Many cast members have thanked me for giving them the opportunity to be in the show and for the added bonus of making new friends and creating a new little community.
But the truth is I have them to thank. I was so nervous about putting my head above the parapet. I am an incomer so who was I tell them how to put on a show?
Despite my fears, they took a risk and trusted me and gave me one of the most fulfilling experiences of my adult life – no exaggeration. This experience has been really inspirational.
We had a little after-show party on Saturday and it was so special to see all the cast, from the youngest to the oldest, strutting their stuff on the dance floor.
Walls have come tumbling down and community has been built. That is the power of the performing arts.