Exit Stage Left


Me as Starbuck.

This coming Monday, I am taking my youngest child to her first drama class (since giving up gymnastics. Yay!). And I’m not sure why, but I’m apprehensive for her. I know she’s a little bit concerned about being ‘the new girl’ again – who wouldn’t be? But she’s such a lovely, bubbly character, I’m sure she’ll take no time to fit in. What’s more, she’s a great little actress and singer, so I feel sure this is the club for her. But this new venture for my daughter has led me to thinking, perhaps now I have a little more time on my hands (not much, I’m just not writing a book at the moment, I’m not exactly footloose and fancy free, y’know), the time may have come to get back into the theatrical life myself.

A couple of weekends ago, my family and I attended an amateur production of ‘Little Shop of Horrors’. I wasn’t truly excited about going, I have a bit of phobia about taking my kids to the theatre now, since the last time we did so, my daughter threw up all over me during ‘Hairspray’. But I’m so glad we did attend. The show was amazing; both the acting and singing was top notch. During the show, I was quietly thinking to myself, I could do this. But only quietly, mind you. And it wasn’t until my husband coincidentally mentioned later that day that I really ought to join a musical theatre group (it must be the singing in the shower) that I started to take the notion seriously. Yes, I’ve been bitten by the am-dram bug again.

Me as Axl Rose.

This won’t be my first foray into the thespian life. I’ve always been able to act and sing fairly well since childhood (I’m not Judy Garland, but I’m alright), but never pushed myself. Apart from being chosen to play Mary in the Nativity Play in primary school (with a musical solo and everything, not just riding around on a fake donkey), I didn’t get chosen for the lead parts during school auditions. And I could never understand why. Perhaps I’m a bit biased (not perhaps, I am), but during these try-outs, I felt sure I was hands-down the best there. I did. However, evidently I was the only person in the room who thought so, because more often than not, the teachers would just stick me in the chorus line. I used to tell myself it was because I was too good and would make the rest of the cast look a bit average. But being the honest forty-five-year-old I now am, I now think, which idiot teacher wouldn’t pick a child for a leading character because they were ‘too good’? Rather, it was more likely that these people wouldn’t know talent if it spat in their face. Which I very much felt like doing at the time.

Me as Britney.

Later on, when I was about eighteen or nineteen, I joined a theatre group which rehearsed somewhere in West London in the evenings. This class even gave me the push to try out for a drama school, which I did. But I didn’t get in (those people can’t have known talent if it spat in their faces either). But I suppose my drama group helped me to gain some certification in the craft of acting, and that was about it. There was an awful lot of travelling about at night on ‘the tube’ – coming from East London, as I did – and after a mugging incident (I kid you not [I was the muggee, not the mugger]), I decided to quit. The teachers, a married theatrical couple in their late-fifties, were really rather irritating anyway; some would say ‘up their own arses’. Actually, that was me. I would say that. Those people were everything I dislike about the theatre industry – ‘darling’ this and ‘sweetie’ that, even a sprinkling of ‘luvvy‘ on occasion. I don’t think I could have gone on much longer stifling my eye-rolling. So leaving the group was no big loss to my life.

Me on an awkward train journey dressed as Daphne from Scooby Doo (red is not my colour).

I’ve been a very busy girl ever since – gaining my nursing diploma, having a family, writing a few books and blogging, so I’ve never got back into acting. Until now. Well, I say now, but I’ve done literally nothing about this new idea that has come into my head. I’ve looked into a few local musical theatre groups (and non-musical, but I think I’d prefer if there was some singing involved). If I’m going to really commit this, it’s going to have to be very local, or I just won’t show up. I’m incredibly apathetic where my spare time is concerned. So I have to give myself a fighting chance of sticking this out (i.e., only having to wander down the road). And it’s going to have to fall on a night that isn’t taken up with my family’s endeavours too. There’s nothing much going on in the am-drams world that I’m especially interested in, as we speak. But in autumn, there are some auditions being held for a musical production in our town. I’ve long thought of joining this particular theatre group, but something else always got in the way. Life, children, sitting on the sofa, that kind of thing. And I’ve got to reiterate, writing the books has always been my top priority, so I’d put this ambition on a back-burner until recently.

The upcoming musical in question is called ‘Pirates of Men’s Pants’ (a reworking of Pirates of Penzance, presumably). If I’m honest, this sounds just a wee bit awful and doesn’t in the least bit inspire me to show up for try-outs. But these are just first impressions, of course. It may well be a wonderful production – and could possibly benefit from an glittering appearance from yours truly. Or they’ll just stick me in the chorus line – as per usual.

Me as Mary Quant (just me in a series of silly wigs, really).

Anyway, these are the plans. Not fixed plans in any way shape or form, but plans none the less. So come autumn, I may be writing a blog post about my excruciating, never-to-be-repeated, audition experience. It’ll be a good’n. I try to salvage something from every horrible event of my life by writing a blog about it – there’s always got to be a positive. Oh, if you’re local and you fancy coming along for moral support (and to audition too, of course), please let me know. You might just make the difference between me showing up, or me staying home and slobbing-out on the sofa instead. See you there? We can stand together in the chorus line on show night, bitching about the woman who stole our leading role. Now, where did I put my jazz shoes?

PS: I really ought to worry more about who actually reads this blog. I think most am-dram groups would probably blacklist me after this. But you know me, it’s all tongue in cheek. On the whole.

PPS: I do hope all future theatre productions involve wigs. As you see, I have a fair few of them, so I can happily provide my own.

15 thoughts on “Exit Stage Left

  1. Perhaps being an Eastender was held against you. But you did gain confidence. In high shcool I was uncertain about my voice. I was near Philadelphia and still sounded like a Western Pennsylvanian (which I still do). I had a speaking part in “The Crucible”, did a part in a German plat at university, and also radio work. That served me well in the parish and classroom. By the way, you were a spot-on Mary Quant! Makes me want to look for bell bottoms, my medallion, and that double-breasted blue cord jacket I took from my brother!


  2. You are such a charming future actress – they call them ‘Actors’ these days – if you probably go dressed up in a tuxedo they may consider putting you in your place – er .. putting you in your rightful place as the leading lady of the show!
    I love the way you write and you do have an inimitable style ….
    Cheers from India
    Deepak Menon (Author)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I was also Mary in a school play in high school. I had to sing and hold Joseph’s hand on stage even though I had never held a boy’s hand in real life. Oh, I cringe at the memory.
    PS. You look quite gorgeous as a blond!

    Liked by 1 person

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