Calendar Girls – Director’s Diary

Calendar Girls
It’s Wednesday morning, and despite the fact that I promised Laura to have something for the website in the form of a ‘Director’s Diary’ for production week, this is the first chance I’ve had to give it some thought.

Sunday was our Technical Rehearsal, when our Stage Manager, Sue, took over the running of things and priority was given to getting the set set, the props propped, the lights lit and the sound coming.  There’s a lot of sitting around waiting, or standing under hot lights waiting, involved for the cast, but they bore it all well with great forbearance and huge quantities of tea and sandwiches kindly provided by Eileen.

That the set up crew arrived at Bozar at 8am on a Sunday morning, a wet, cold, sleety Sunday morning to boot, shows how lucky we are to have such dedicated people giving their time to the ECC.  It also explains why there was such a rush for the exit when we finished on schedule at 10pm!

And backstage – you should see it.  Look at the ladies. Look at the costumes … and marvel at how Iona and they have brought it all together and get all the changes made (with the help of Alice and others bundling them in and out of their clothes) in the short time allocated by the script.  You can tell that Tim Firth is not a woman!

And they were all back on Monday for the Dress, where we had a small invited audience who were suitably enthusiastic about the production, even though it was clear there were one or two glitches to be ironed out.

The revelation for me on Monday was the hair and make-up.  Sadly Mari, our make-up lady, had been poorly on Sunday.  But she was there on Monday full of enthusiasm and ideas … and voila!  The characters suddenly had another aspect to them – and it was great!

And then  suddenly it was Tuesday. First Night.  I was calm.  I was collected.  And then the cast of the BATS production of Calendar Girls arrived!  I tried to stay cool, but couldn’t help wondering what they would make of our wildly different version of the same play.  Whilst theirs had been minimalist and made excellent use of projected images, ours is an all-out production and our buns bigger!

I sat in the auditorium with the audience, and was the first to lead the laughing in the opening scene which went splendidly – setting the bar for the rest of   the performance!  Despite the glitch with the interval bar, the audience seemed to be in good spirits (pun not intended) and the feedback that reached me was all positive.

I have to say we had a wonderful audience.  Not just for the nice comments, but because their enjoyment was palpable, and I believe they all felt the grief the play portrays as well.  A word to future audiences – it is OK to singalong to the curtain call!

As an additional plus, we were delighted that our collecting buckets had a healthy layer of coins and notes … we are hoping the audiences will give generously to the Fondation Contre le Cancer whose work we are hoping to promote and support with this production.

Well – that’s it. Opening night is over.  My job is done!  And I’m happy to be leaving it in the hands of a wonderfully capable cast and crew – and the audience.