Friday, 28 August 2015

A little bit Political

May 2004

The job the job the job was BORING. What can I say? I was placed in a room with a few other odd balls- actors mainly. Though one guy actually seemed to do this for a living. We sat on the phone all day ringing up clients and promoting the magazine and inviting them to the event at The Dorchester Hotel, a dinner and award ceremony for which there was no doubt a hefty price tag. I plugged away. Meanwhile my agent phoned me about a new show that was coming to the West End called ‘Bat Boy’ in addition to an audition for the part of Carmen in ‘Fame’ which was already in town.

Every night I rushed home to commit yards of script and music to memory. The 'Bat Boy' auditioning process was endless. First round was with the casting director and the musical director. Second round and a choreographer appeared. Third round and some American producers were flown over. Fourth round and I was knackered. The final round was in RADA my old stomping ground of UCL days. Here I was auditioning in the place which had inspired me years ago as a view from my window I sang and acted my little socks off to the scary row of Americans sat in a semi-circle filling up half the studio. It was tricky vocally and pretty high but I had practised it for ever and a day. I knew that by this stage there were only two or three of us to choose from.

Once it was all over I felt sort of deflated and thought that I may as well go back to work and then go home and brood. The waiting to hear game began. 'Fame' was a non-starter as although I was recalled they kept saying things like:

 ‘Remember when you were a teenager? How would you have said that line?’


 I get the hint.

I’m too old.

Fair enough.

 But with 'Bat Boy' I thought I was in with a chance. Even though I was up against a very successful pro. I was 32. I looked 25. I felt 96.

When the call came one sunny London morning to say that they had ‘gone another way’ with the casting of 'Bat Boy' I was indescribably disappointed. It was June. Money was really really too tight to mention.

Then something funny happened. My sister had finished her degree at Manchester University in the summer of 2004. She wanted to try her luck as an actress also and unbeknown to me had looked up a part time job in the back of the stage. At the same time my boss told me that a new girl was coming to work for him the following day. Then my sister told me she had found a job. And yup she duly turned up fresh as a daisy in my rubbish temp job in the city.

She then proceeded to let my boss know that the job was a bit rubbish (which it was) and proceeded to get the sack.

Before I too left the publishers to their own devices I attended the Award dinner at the Dorchester. One, it was an excuse to get very dressed up and two there was a huge three course meal and as much booze as you could consume. All I had to do was slink about in a red dress guiding the winners from the stage to their seats. Michael Portillo was the guest speaker. He made a bee-line for our table and sat between me and a pretty back actress who also temporarily worked for the company.

‘So!’ He enthused. ‘What do you ladies do?’

‘Well,’ I said ‘I’m probably going to be disappoint you when I say that we are actors hired to help sell the company.’

 He did look disappointed. But requested a photo opportunity with him. He wanted us to be either side of him holding up a copy of the magazine. And smile! It’s not every day you get to be a political satellite.

It was at this point that a friend of mine Mary came up with another temp job that I could do which might prove more lucrative-work as a lettings agent in an Islington Estate Agents office. I said ‘yes’ immediately and duly rang the boss to arrange to meet him. I rang and rang and rang and rang and finally we met. This job would involve showing flats to students and young professionals in and around the Islington area but the perk of the job was that audition time was allowed so Mary and I could go off and do our auditions and return to work afterwards and still get paid. Genius.

 Happily I received a job offer shortly after beginning the lettings job in Ipswich to play Maid Marion in one of Pete Row’s legendary Rock n’ Roll Pantomimes. I loved Ipswich! Being back in Ipswich for Christmas was really fun. I so loved the big old Victorian house I was staying in which was walking distance from the theatre.  I loved the theatre itself, modern but warm and inviting with clean bright dressing rooms, a fantastic green room and great food laid on for the company during technical week since we were in the theatre from ten in the morning ‘til eleven at night. I had the glorious task of learning classics to sing like ‘natural woman’ and Dusty Springfield’s ‘I only wanna be with you!’ Dancing to Sam n’ Dave’s ‘I’m a Soul Man’ with sexy Robin Hood was another highlight. He liked me first……… and then the stage manager. I had an eggy face, although in hind sight I had liked the character he played more than the man.


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