We’re up! Everybody has a smile back on their face. Wardrobe, sound, lights, stage management have had a tough production week and looked tired and relieved. Front of house departments listened out for feedback as the audience departed and discovered many booking for next year.
It was great to run it in front of an audience but it is work in progress. Exasperated with my own ineptitude over jokes, plots, lines I should cut, timings, pace, energy and pauses. From entrances to exits, lines that are feed or punch, I felt misled over missed opportunities, making obvious choices rather than dangerous and braver decisions. In my head I felt so much frustration for things to be different.
And so I emerged from the dressing room after the performance into the bar and this party atmosphere. My parents had driven up from the south; there were kids excitedly collecting autographs and their parents thanking us all for a wonderful evening; friends of the cast and crew saying, “How is it always so good?!” Even theatre staff: “I was crying with laughter”, “…we loved it…” etc.
So what do I know? I thought. Maybe I’m wrong. 10 years in Harrogate pantomime, what experience have I gleaned? But after a pint or two of orange juice and watching everybody’s joy and happiness and a phone call to the wife – I realised I’m right, I just care! It’s a truly traditional pantomime – we don’t do blue, we don’t offend. If you’re 4 or 94 you will both laugh and share the experience that is live and fascinating theatre. And I love it.