So what happens after a show... normally I head home, and theres nothing more to it. But not today, as today was a double... two shows in one day! This clearly meant that going home was not an option. In these instances its normally Starbucks and something to eat between shows. I am somewhat predictable when it comes to things like this, I know what I like and where to get it... why change a formula that works? Starbucks are the only coffee shop that make good frapachinnos.... the Costa ones are awful... and indeed we did eventually head to a Starbucks, but only after myself, Charlotte and Dennis did the stage door shuffle.
So whats the stage door shuffle I hear you ask? You want to know right? Well even if you don't here is the explanation for you. Its a term Ollie who I talked about before made up at Avenue Q as meeting the cast at stage door was something he liked to do whenever he could. So the stage door shuffle... Its where everyone gathers around stage door, waiting patiently for their favorite cast members to come out and sign things etc. If you watch what happens as soon as someone credible emerges everyone shuffles that little bit closer to the door, until the entire gathering is pretty much on the door step! I had decided I wanted my program signed by the cast, its a nice looking program, and having that framed and on the wall would be amazing.
One by one various cast members emerged. At billy the over protective minders usher the kids away normally so its not all that easy to get anything signed by them. Its only if the cast members parents are picking them up that you have a chance. So needless to say I was really happy when Connor emerged and was happy to sign things. If you can't remember from previous posts Connor plays the role of Michael, Billy's best friend. I had a brief chat with him at stage door, he is such a nice kid. He seemed to genuinely appreciate the kind words people had to say about him and had the time for everyone who wanted a picture or an autograph. He has rapidly become one of my favorite cast members and I look forward to seeing him again soon. I will be talking about Connor a bit more in a blog or two's time so look out for that.
A little later after a few more autographs on the program Barnaby Meredith emerged. Since seeing the show for the first time a few months ago I have had a huge amount of respect for Barnaby and had always felt that he is an unsung hero in the show. He appears throughout as a member of the ensemble, as a miner and a policeman among other things. Though his big moment is when he appears as Billy''s older self where they dance together in the scene where his Dad sees him dance for the every first time and realises that he needs to give Billy a future. That routine is just beautiful, theres no other word for it, simply beautiful. I had wanted to speak to Barnaby to tell him how much I respected him for his part in the show, and ironically as I was telling Charlotte this he emerged from stage door. Maybe his ears were burning.
I had a short chat with Barnaby who gave me a lot of support in my ambitions to get on to the big stage. I asked him a few questions about dancing. He is the perfect person to speak to about this having gone to the Royal Ballet School himself. What I found nice was he had so much time for me. Some actors just want to up and go at the end of the show, but Barnaby really took the time to talk. I am so appreciative of this. As i mentioned before my motivation comes from others and right now i feel so motivated to achieve things. Barnaby is a simply an amazing performer and such a warm and lovely guy. I had a ton of respect for him before I spoke to him on Thursday, now words cannot even comprehend how much I look up to him. I hope he stays with the show for a long time to come.
The last person to emerge was Kate Graham. She plays the role of Mrs Wilkinson. She is a fantastic actress, and in my opinion dominates her role with such precision, I couldn't imagine anyone in her place. Being a lead role I didn't think she would have the time to stop for more than an autograph. I guess in my mind and from experience a lot of people who play the lead parts are a bit arrogant sometimes. Kate isn't this at all. She is wonderful, such a nice person and ever so polite. She stopped for a long chat where she said a lot not just about the show but also about me getting into theatre. For me one of the most inspirational things she said was that until she went into her current role she couldn't dance and it wasn't until she was 35 that she learned. Such a simple line but it conveyed so much truth.... that you are never too old to learn something new. Until now I always felt dancing was something you had to pick up as a kid, and that if you hadn't there was no chance. If Kate could learn at 35 I had a fighting chance too, its an important element of theatrical training so these words have really given me the push i need to succeed.
This chat with Kate was so nice. I learned a lot about her and the development process she went through in order to get into the role of Mrs Wilkinson. This is really helpful as things like this are hopefully things I too will experience in the future. She gave me an insight into the process that goes on behind the scenes, in particular she was saying how she worked with all the new Billy's in their rehearsals when she was an understudy. She was rather lucky with both Tanner and Trent (who is now a Broadway Billy) as not only did she get to train them she also got to perform alongside them on their opening nights, as performing the very first show is the last chapter in the training process. She is such a lovely person, she has already been a huge inspiration to me, and I hope to see her again soon.
So this all lasted maybe 45 minutes, in the grand scheme of things thats not long at all but it was one of the most inspirational, educational and fun 45 minutes I have ever experienced. Well it beats the buggery out of watching the first half of a football match! I learned a lot and and met some wonderful people. If Connor, Barnaby or Kate ever read this I just want to say a huge thank you. If not, I want to say publicly what great people the cast of the show are especially these three... what legends!
So i guess Billy Elliot is having an even bigger impact on my life than we first thought. There is still so much more to tell you about, including a special appearance at the evening show, getting to see George Maycock again, finally getting to see Tanner Pflueger for the first time and some more tales from stage door. Stay tuned for the next update. Hopefully a little later today!