Yesterday’s first run went very well… with no audience, but we went for it and, yes… We have a show! Congratulations all round.
The second run, with our inaugural Central American audience, ‘The Premier’, was good… largely thanks to adrenalin. A drink for all from a grateful production manager, just the one – since tomorrow’s big.
But don’t be lulled into false confidence.
First of today’s three shows
The audience is in, standby called, line up for Sc 2, culminating chord of the opening, ice crack and avalanche effect, applause, and we’re on… cheers from the children who recognise they’re favourite film characters, looking just like they’d expect.
The response is good and the scene’s are progressing… Act I complete, lights, applause, tea-time… it’s going well.
Act II… and Olga’s got her sexy squirrel number, after which the triple earth platform is too retract, so that the journey of our hero’s, which takes them home in a spectacular and entertaining manner can continue into the enchanted garden. But it doesn’t retract… instead it sits there grumpily saying “no” via Wifi.
Nattie’s voice is heard over our in-ears… plan B. ‘Leave the bloody thing where it is and carry on pretending it’s not there’.
We continue as best we can… don’t let on to the audience.
Clever skating, hurried in-ear re-direction, commitment despite and we’re almost there.. we’ve successfully arrived at Sc 20 “Mini Sloths” my fave – and as it’s meant to, the earth platform partially separates for the number… and then stops!
No amount of reloading cues will convince it to return to closed position. Just as well the operator has a lot of hair… he’ll be pulling it out about now.
Almost there, Sc 22 – The Family Reunited… the perfect summation of a family show, where the audience are invited to share mother & daughter’s cathartic moment and emotionally put themselves in that same happy place. Ellie is discovered alone and wracked to her core, her daughter taken and maybe eaten by predatory birds, her husband gone after… but it’s been a long time, she looks to the hills and then the video wall opens and a voice calls, “Mama”. And from despair – to recognition – to exaltation; she turns and there’s her long-lost child and behind plods her lovely, pouffy husband… but the performers of the lumbering pachyderm can’t properly descend into the too small gap between the dead platforms, so attempt to negotiate the space by coming off at an angle. They nearly make it, but three wheels in the air and ice beneath their feet is too much.
Over he goes… ker-thump!
Rather ridiculously, on the inside, it happens in slow motion and very stupidly I try to arrest the collapse by putting out my hand… (my medula oblongata has a lot to answer for), so instead of simply accepting that gravity won and flumpfing into the inflatable left foreleg, I hear the crack as four hundred pounds forces fingers back.
There’s an odd silence, then my in-ear goes mad… “Manny down”.
Soundtrack keeps playing, hands come to help, one grabs my outstretched arm… the enormous puppet is hoist up, the puppeteers still strapped into harness are determined to finish. The audience forgives and applauds… this is a live show!
We leave the scene as scripted, embarrassed and battered, but still attempting the choreography.
Show ends as it was meant to… audience loud, cast grateful, master puppeteer realising that all is not entirely well with right hand and a couple of ribs.
So for the next of todays three shows, and tomorrows three, and Sunday’s two, and the get-out… supportive tape and nurofen shall be my best friends.