‘Tis the season. Awards season that is! Yesterday our friends at WhatsOnStage announced the nominees for the prestigious 17th Annual WhatsOnStage Awards.
The winners will be announced at a glittering ceremony in February, which gives us plenty of time to celebrate with our clients who have been nominated.
That’s also plenty of time to reflect on our own, less lauded stage careers and remind ourselves why we will be in the press room, and not on stage accepting an award, come February.
Here’s five anecdotes that will make you glad we chose careers in theatre PR and NOT in performance!
I Do Believe in Fairies
I was 5 years old and I’d been cast as Tinkerbell in my Reception class end of term play, opposite my best friend Paul as Peter Pan. A Tinkerbell costume and shoes complete with pom-poms had been purchased specially from Disneyland Paris and, needless to say, I was thrilled! When the time came to make my grand entrance, however, I was struck down by a crippling bout of stage fright. Sobbing, refusing to go on, I was forced through the gap in the back of the school stage and hiccupped my way through my lines.
I soon got over my stage fright and went on to have a glittering career in roles such as Reindeer Medicine Administrator and Mad (Male) French Inventor.
I Dreamed A Dream
I was the reigning theatrical queen of my primary school. I played Mary in the Nativity with such depth that every six year old who followed me walked in my diminutive shadow. My pivotal role as the narrator in another school play was acclaimed by critics and audiences alike and, finally, my Olivier-tipped role in the Year 6 pantomime received standing ovations night after night.
Naturally, after such a bright start, I entered high school with a certain sense of dramatic confidence. This was very quickly punctured during the auditions for my school’s production of Les Misérables in which the music teacher promptly told me that I was better suited to the orchestra than the stage because, basically, I could not sing. The production was truly terrible and my rendition of I Dreamed A Dream has never been heard in public. Although sometimes, if you ask nicely, I will make you cover your ears in horror as I belt it out at karaoke.
We Go Together (Or Not)
As a kid I always got cast as a boy in my local youth theatre and at school. It could have had something to do with my extremely round face and the strips of brown hair perfectly gelled to each side of my face... Anyway. One day, my moment to shine finally arrived.
I somehow, miraculously, landed a FEMALE role (I was in year 11 by this point - flattered) as the feisty Rizzo in Grease, opposite my bestie at the time who played Sandy...cliche-licious! Not only did I get to 'bring the house down' (my parents' words, not mine, obvs) with the classic belter There Are Worse Things I Could Do, I also got to wear a wicked black wig. What I didn't quite realise when I signed up for the part was that, in pretty much every scene, I had to snog the most popular boy in school who was playing Kenickie. This would have been fine except my actual boyf at the time was also on stage (and also in the T-Bird gang). With Kenickie blissfully unaware of the art of stage kissing, let's just say my relationship didn't last much longer. Where's Jeremy Kyle when you need him?
The Music (Wo)Man
I loved secondary school. I was on various sports teams, in all the school plays and part of practically every music group, except one – the school big band – and I really wanted to join as all the ‘cool’ kids were in it. One day, I was given the opportunity to learn the drums as they needed someone to join the percussion team and I jumped at the chance. I got a drum kit, learned to play the triangle(!) and started getting to grips with the big bass drum and the timpani. I absolutely loved it, and was soon made the permanent timpani player. Great way to relieve stress.
During one concert, someone was ill so I had to cover a couple of the other parts and, with adrenaline flowing from rushing between the different pieces of kit, I got a bit carried away on the bass drum. There was a particularly loud bit and I hit the drum so hard it came off its stand and rolled off into the brass section in front of me. Probably a good thing I decided not to be a musician.
After years of playing second fiddle to teacher’s pet Katherine Aslet, I was finally cast as Grusha Vashnadze – the lead in Brecht’s epic parable The Caucasian Chalk Circle. My parents were in the audience on the second (of three) nights, otherwise known as ‘the night I completely dried during a big courtroom speech’. The painful, dragging seconds of silence, the panic, fear and sickness. The mind going totally blank, the memory deserting me in what should have been my finest hour. The tumbleweed, the pity emanating from the faces in the audience. This combination of utterly dreadful feelings and emotions made me question why anyone in their right mind would ever, ever be a stage actor. It was at that moment that I mentally retreated to the safety of being a 'behind the scenes person’, never to tread the boards again.