Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Henley Fringe Festival - Day 1

Loaded like a pack horse the taxi arrived to take me to the train station. As a now hardened Londoner this was a major treat as I am used to walking everywhere! But given the amount of luggage it was hardly surprising the strange look I was given by the driver when he pulled up to see my thoughtfully arranged luggage which I had just dragged down 34 steps placed at my front door.

On my way to perform at my first fringe festival and to be fair a "fringe virgin" doesn't even begin to cut it here as a description - as I find out.

Once at Paddington I am more than a little relieved to see my friend Frank who has agreed to be my helper for the day.

We distribute the luggage between us and gossip all the way to Henley, find our landlady and are then taken to another house, which is to be my home for the next 7 days. I had been preparing myself for "digs" shared bunks, snoring strangers & smelly feet. None of which is a pleasant prospect as a "Virgo"...... If your a Virgo you'll understand. Once more relief was enormous when we turned into a private road lined with the most beautiful Victorian Houses. Large spacious gardens, the top floor all to myself, clean towels fresh linen & not a smelly foot in sight. The kitchen even had an Aga! It was a family home, the family in Italy were due home in a few days!

Now so far it's all going swimmingly and I am heading to the Town Square laden with flyers and dressed in silk full length gown & sparkly jewellary! Not necessarily the most sensible look for 12pm on a wet Sunday afternoon, but who has any illusions to sense! I am looking for a stage (possibly a tented thing baring in mind the weather was not good) & of course a piano. This was to be a rolling sample of acts at the festival. A Smorgasboard if you will! I knew I relaxed too soon. Frank & I turned the corner to find, well, lots of people milling around a couple of mikes & a sound desk. No stage, no canapy, no piano! As the alternative options started through my mind, I discovered no CD playing facility either!

Thinking on my feet is something I am experienced in so finding the right song to sing accapella was now my only challenge. Once again the answer arrived as the heavens opened. The Artistic Director had said 5 minutes ..... this was clearly a "Fringe 5 mins" as 40 mins later (I'm not kidding, neither were the goose bumps on my goose bumps!) I was invited to perform as the wind whipped up, the heavens opened. "Are you going to sing?" asks Al the compare ..... my response came "what do you think?!"

Finally the rain subsided just long enough for me to sing a song and flyer the 3 people that weren't from other productions!! It's surely gonna be a sell out this!! Ha!

Advert over..... time for a snackette & to meet my lighting person. David is sixteen and waiting for his GCSE's ..... You know your "Almost Young" when the lighting guy could be your son and he uses the phrase "4 years ago when I was young". .........

The rehearsal technical run went as well as can be expected & having established that all was well with the music and the "look" I asked David if all was well with him? At this point he mentioned that I had reversed 2 verses in one of the songs.... awwwwww thats really terribly sweet (I thought) then explained that after all this was cabaret and there was likely to be a lot more changes as the week progressed as things changed. He was confident that this wasn't a problem and Leigh (my wonderfully patient talented MD), Frank & I decamped to a local curry house.

My only niggling fear is ticket sales a 15 minute turn around between shows..... If it's a "fringe 15 minutes" we'll be fine!!! ;-) x

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