Whispers from the Wings

The run begins

May 15, 2012

Monday, a wet April day. Texts from our new Company Stage Manager Alex Constantin. She has arranged temporary membership for us to a number of clubs - The Groucho, The Ivy and Century.

We are called to warm-up and to sing the Gaude at 6pm. As it is a Press Night the performance is at 7pm. We are invited to a post-show dinner hosted by Bill Kenwright at the Waldorf Hotel and can bring a guest. We are told to dress up a bit.

Tonight we will be reunited with the people who have left the show since Stratford. For economic reasons we have had to lose the beautiful singing performed live by our hugely talented quintet. This is now a recorded performance in the show. It is still terrific. Also the gorgeous Laura Darrall, who did some fine understudy work at Stratford, but did not understandably want to just do Written in London. I'm looking forward to seeing them all.

Gifts, cards, champagne and flowers arrive from friends and agents. A wooden heart, carved with best wishes from Thelma. A framed poster of the show from Bill Kenwright.

The Duchess Theatre adorned with Written on the Heart posters

The performance went really well. No sign of press night nerves anywhere. Cheers at the curtain calls. Though these always seem false, partisan and a bit frenetic on these special nights.

Drinks, warm greetings, reunions, and much loud chatter in the overcrowded bar front of house. Then to the Waldorf Hotel with some of my family for a late supper hosted by Bill Kenwright in the spectacular ballroom.

This is a high ceilinged, beautifully pillared room on two levels. One of the staff tells me that scenes from the film 'Titanic' were shot here. We all sit at large round tables. Talk to Nigel Hugill the new RSC chairman and to former chairman Sir Geoffrey Cass and his wife Olwen.

Bill Kenwright mounts the stairs and makes a very good speech, remembering to thank all the right people. He lavishes much praise on the play, cast, design and direction.

Then, some surprising facts. He tells us that in order to bring this costly production to the West End, Nica Burns the theatre owner has charged no rent to the production, that David Edgar has taken no writing fee, likewise the RSC took no fee. He speaks warmly of Thelma Holt and her enthusiasm for the piece and how she can always persuade him to get involved with her projects. Heart warming stuff.

It is good to have my daughter and friend Jackie there to share this marvellous evening. I get home at 1am, very tired and end up watching Episode 2 of the new Scandinavian thriller The Bridge.

Now the run begins. We await the notices. We are all very proud of this production of this very fine play and look forward to playing it in the coming months.

I'll finish these blogs with special thanks to Sam Marks, Ian Midlane and Youssef Kerkour for letting me use some of their rehearsal photographs and of the Duchess frontage. And thank you to you if you have been reading these pieces.

by James Hayes  |  No comments yet

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