Sunday, 29 July 2012

Farewell, Maria

Well, that's done. Yesterday saw the final two performances of When We Are Married - a matinee and an evening performance.

The audiences for the ten shows were, mostly, wonderful: vocal and warm in their appreciation, treating us to plenty of laughter and the occasional 'ripple' (which I'm reliably informed is the technical term for applause mid-scene after a particularly impressive speech or exit). The only exception to this was, curiously, the second Friday night, where many reliable laugh-cues went past without a murmur, and the cast began to wonder what they were doing wrong. However, we were assured by those who remained in the bar to see us afterwards that everybody was smiling broadly and enjoying it... Don't get me wrong - we loved them just the same - but unfortunately, in a dark theatre, the performers can't see smiles! [Interestingly, my husband went to watch our friends at the Sewell Barn performing The Comedy of Errors, and they experienced the exact same Friday-night-phenomenon.]

Be that as it may, the majority of audience reactions across the run were wonderful and gratifying for all the hard work put in by cast, crew and director. We were slightly apprehensive about the final two shows: matinees are notorious for being downbeat, and for reasons we still don't understand, the sales for the last night were well down on the rest of the run.

However, our fears proved unfounded. Firstly, the matinee audience turned out to be both numerous and wonderfully responsive; and there was a sudden surge in ticket purchases during the day, plus quite a number of on-the-door sales, so in the event, we had a very healthy-sized audience in the evening - who also proved to be a generously vocal and appreciative bunch. (I was especially pleased to receive a 'ripple' of my own, for the first time this show, on my 'I'll be in Blackpool' exit.) Laughter and reactions were warm and easy, and we brought our little theatrical craft safely into harbour for the last time.

I added some backstage photographs to the relevant album, which I think accurately sum up the atmosphere of our last day in the theatre. Cards and gifts were given, with love and gratitude, to members of our crew and support team, and we don't forget all the others who worked in the background too (you can see the full list here).

Finally, you might enjoy my own whimsical contribution (at the end of this post): cartoon versions of the cast. I've created these for a few other shows I've taken part in, and they're particularly enjoyable to draw when the characters are so distinctly identifiable by costume features. I printed a copy for each member of the cast as a memento of our very happy family for the last eight weeks (is that really all it's been?). (Click on the image to display a larger sized version.)

I have personally learned a great deal from the simple discipline of recording our progress, and the process, and it's highlighted to me that - never mind the fact that I first 'trod the boards' nearly forty years ago - I continue to learn with every new show. My fellow performers and our backstage crew have given mighty amounts of support, education and fun. Most especially, I want to applaud in the loudest possible terms our delightful, talented and lovely director, Genevieve, whose vision, intelligence, enthusiasm and care made this such a wonderful experience.

May I conclude this journey with a heartfelt personal plea?

Please continue to support not only the Maddermarket Theatre, but also the many other 'amateur' (and I use the word in its literal sense: lover of) theatrical enterprises that we're so fortunate to have within easy reach of Norwich. Here are just a few examples.

The Sewell Barn and the Great Hall work in very different spaces and cover a huge range of styles of entertainment. There are superb choirs (Keswick Hall, Jay Singers). There are wonderful concert-style shows (The Upper Octave). There are youth theatres (Mad Red). There are musical theatre companies (Norfolk & Norwich). Many local performers also become involved in small offshoot groups, either regularly or for one-off performances. All work hard to produce theatre and music of a consistently high standard, and all do it for love. Please stay in touch with these groups through the web and social media, watch out for them in local press and posters, and support them whenever you can.

Ladies and gentlemen: thank you for joining Maria and her colleagues. I'm delighted to see that this blog has had over 2,400 visitors since I started. I hope you have enjoyed the journey as much as I've enjoyed writing about it; and that you will share more such joyful journeys in the future.

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