The most wonderful thing about working in theatreland is that it’s ‘live’ and just about anything can happen – from forgotten lines and missed entrances to malfunctioning props and technical problems,
Until this Christmas I’d only been on the audience’s side of the stage in a front of house role, meeting and greeting the general public (apart from a brief panto stint a few years back at the Kings in Southsea when I was chaperoning the ponies for Cinderella).
But thanks to a conversation with stage technician Rob Sarahs at Ferneham Hall in Fareham, I was given the chance to become a techie for the pantomime Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
Techie Tom Chandler led me through winding corridors and narrow staircases to the upper reaches of the theatre,
I glanced down to the stage with its Snow White curtain sparkling and the orchestra was assembling and the hall filling up with excited children.
With just half-an-hour to curtain up for panto number 14, it was to be a particulary gruelling day for the cast and crew as there were three shows back-to-back.
I got my run-down from Lynne Vinton, no stranger to performing herself as she is part of Portsmouth’s Military Wives’ Choir.
‘You’ll be fine,’ she said, reassuring me and my jangling nerves.
I was on the ‘cans’ and was somewhat puzzled, but relieved to hear it was just another word for headphones.
The audience were all seated and I flicked the switch to one of the two spotlights, swinging the contraption around to get the feel of it.
The music started and I waited for my cue. My first ‘spot’ was EastEnders star Stefan Booth, who was playing the Prince.
He bounced on stage to sing the first number and I tried to keep up with him without making juddery movements.
As he finished his scene, I faded the light and waited for my next cue.
Follow spotting is hot work and concentration is paramount – well, you do have to be spot on.
The time whizzed by and soon I was on the final walkdown (the bows). I felt euphoric as Lynne gave me a high-five
‘Can I come back again?’ I said excitedly. I’m hooked – roll on the next one!