Friday, 17 December 2010

Dress Rehearsal

The time to make mistakes in a dramatic performance is during dress rehearsal. That's the point of a dress rehearsal, and having produced numerous pantomimes and a couple of musicals and plays, I have always encouraged the performers to cock-up big time during this final run rather than cock-up in front of a ticket-paying audience and making me look a complete nurk because we all know the buck stops with the producer.

It is with trepidation then, that I am asked to sit in on the hens' dress rehearsal for their Nativity play. My sense of trepidation increases when I notice the funny look haunting the eyes of the three camels who've been hired to carry the Three Kings, or, as I have since discovered, the Two Kings plus a Grand Vizier.

'What's up with the camels?' I ask Mrs Miggins, as I nestle my nadgers on a bale of straw.
'Oh, some triviality to do with their contract,' says Miggins. 'They maintain they were hired to carry kings, not Grand Viziers and they're kicking off big-time about extra dates.'
'Performance?' I say. I think, I'm not sure I can cope with more than one performance of this Nativity.
'To eat,' says Miggins. 'Mrs Pumphrey says we shoudn't capitulate because dates give them wind.'
'And you say?' I say.
'Leave it to the lawyers,' says Mrs Miggins. 'Personally, I can't see the difference between a king and a Grand Vizier except the head gear. maybe, and a slightly bigger moustache.'

I nod in agreement.
'Vizier schmizier,' I say.

'Anyway,' says Mrs Miggins, 'what I would like you to do is tick off the items on this list as the dress rehearsal proceeds.' And she hands me a clipboard, topped with a festive piece of holly.
'Okay,' I say.
'And if you could keep an eye on the donkey I'd be grateful,' says Mrs Miggins. 'Only he has a habit of wandering off after he's deposited the Virgin Mary, and leaving enormous poops right next to the manger. And somehow it doesn't seem right to have the Baby Cheeses emerging from a cloud of dung-related steam.'
'Don't you mean Baby Jesus?' I say.
'What did I say?' says Miggins.
'Baby Cheeses,' I say.
'Are you sure?' says Miggins. 'Only that's a very old joke.'
'I know,' I say.

I can only assume the pressure of performance is getting to Mrs Miggins and making her forgetful. I know how she feels. Three years ago, during the dress rehearsal for 'We Will Rock You', I found myself having to leg it to the local builders' merchant to procure half-a-dozen yellow safety helmets for a dance routine because I'd forgotten to get them sooner. I nearly died running up a very steep hill back to school. And were the students grateful? Were they chocolate aardvark.

I digress. From the moment Mrs Pumphrey emerged from the wheelie bin, resplendent in white chiffon, tulle and organza, I was transfixed by the entire performance. Even the camels behaved.

Unfortunately, nothing went wrong. All was perfect. Which leaves me somewhat anxious for the actual, real and proper performance next week. I am almost tempted to suggest to Mrs M that they do another dress rehearsal, just to make sure all cock-ups are dragged out from their hiding places and banished forever and for good.

But I shan't spoil the fun for you by giving away the plot. (What am I saying????)

Maybe say a little prayer to the Baby Cheeses for next week? Just in case?

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