I made it a whole day into 2013 without going to the theatre. Thanks to a balls-up with the bookings, (weekdays are always more confusing – especially if one day it’s 2012 and the next it’s 2013) I ended up going down to London a day earlier than originally planned. As a result of this I went to London on the Tuesday with my best friend and fellow theatre-addict Mel, who I would put on a train back to Manchester later that day. I would then spend a night alone in London (woo!) and my Mum would come down on the Wednesday, then we’d go back together on the Thursday. Simple.
So, we’re back to Tuesday. We had a brilliant journey down to London in our own little cubby-hole next to the train manager’s office and the shop. After a breakfast of train porridge (my own term – sounds better than “Quaker Oats porridge in a pot”) an apple, (a bitch to eat with two lip bars and a tongue stud) and a brew each, (tea for me, coffee for Mel) we hit twitter to try and find out the cast for the afternoon. It’s a good job we were in such secluded seats. We had both tweeted Oliver Tompsett asking if he’d be on as Galileo. (He’s the leading man. Tight jeans, a leather jacket and Queen songs. Need I say more?) and we both screamed very loudly with the obligatory high-pitched “oh my god!” when he actually replied to us. He’d been struggling with a cold and we’d asked if he’d be able to make it onstage for us. When he replied “for you two I shall try my hardest” WITH A WINKY FACE we damn near stopped breathing. With both of us grinning like pumpkins (?) we arrived at Euston. I quickly dumped my stuff in my hotel room (hastily booked after the afore-mentioned balls-up) and we headed for the underground. The best part of the Dominion being opposite Tottenham Court Road station is that one minute you’re cooped up underground with lots of people who have no concept of personal space, (I’m small, not invisible – one person actually sat on me) and the next minute you pop your head up like a little meerkat and BAM! There’s Freddie Mercury. It gets me every time. Because Rock of Ages was still on at the Shaftesbury we went around the corner to have a look at the theatre, and then headed back to the Dominion.
Once we were in our seats (front row of the circle – “restricted view” means nothing to me) we started to plan our escape route – the fastest way to get to the stage door afterwards. It was a simple up the aisle, down the stairs and out of the door job – nothing too strenuous. It was still a few minutes until curtain-up (check me out being all stagey) so, naturally, the conversation turned to the cast. What did Oli mean, he’d “try his hardest”? Does that mean he might not be on? He’s stopped tweeting now – is that a good sign? At one point we even tweeted “Galileo – let us know!” which, at the time, we thought was pure genius. Now I’ve seen it written down – not so much. I knew from past visits – well, visit – that at the Dominion they announce the cast changes before the show in order of the size of the role, so if Oliver wasn’t on it would be announced first. As the lights dimmed we held hands, held our breath, held our bladders, (too much information?) and waited. First announcement – Katie Paine would replace Brenda Edwards as Killer Queen. SUCCESS! We settled down, ready to be rocked. I was so mesmerised by the GaGa girls I didn’t notice Oli sneak into the background at first, so when I glanced up and saw him standing on stage I let out an almighty scream – just as the music stopped. Awkward. Mildly embarrassing moment over I sat, quietly, and watched the show. During “Under Pressure” Oli and Rachael Wooding, the principle Scaramouche jump up and down on VERY un-stable looking hospital gurneys and I swear I nearly had a heart attack waiting for one of them to fall off. Luckily, they didn’t. By the interval the stupid grins were back on our faces – especially Mel, who had been a Bohemian in our college production of We Will Rock You last year. The thing I love the most about the theatre is the atmosphere – everyone is always so friendly. Soon, we got chatting to the woman next to me (Mel was on the aisle) and it turned out she had seen the original cast production ten years ago and was there today with her grandsons. I mentioned I was there for Oliver and we were going to the stage door afterwards to tell him we were the weirdos who had been tweeting him all day. She then asked if she could come to the stage door with us afterwards. Erm… yes? Cue the second act.
After teasing us with Bohemian Rhapsody snippets all the way through the show finally, at the very end, here it was. The stage was completely dark except for a single spotlight on Oliver. “Mama…” Beautiful. Haunting. Perfect. I leaned as far forward as I could and was completely and utterly enthralled. “Mama, I don’t wanna die, if i’m not back again this time tomorrow, carry on, carry on.” Wait – what? I looked over at Mel for confirmation – Oliver had messed up the words. To his credit, his recovery was flawless and the rest of the song was spectacular. As the curtain went down, still clapping like mad women, me and Mel initiated our escape plan. Grab our bags, up the aisle… and up went the curtain. Shit. We were now stranded at the back of the circle, still clapping, with the stairs well and truly blocked off. Ducking awkwardly so as not to block the view of the people further back, we tucked ourselves into a corner. Lots of clapping and curtain calls later, the ushers revealed the stairs from behind yet another curtain – escape plan initiated (again.) Go! Go! Go!
We hurtled down the stairs, out of the front doors, around the corner, down the street, quick left at Starbucks, bear right, sharp left and YES! There was the door. Why it’s so damn awkward to get to I will never know. As we tried to get our breath back we dug out our sharpies, tickets, programmes and cameras. Oliver is known for flying out of the stage door, but surely we couldn’t have missed him? Every time someone came out of the door that wasn’t him we grew more and more anxious – get a move on Oli, its cold! Finally the door opened again and I caught a glimpse of him. I shouted “Oli!” and he looked up before the door shut on him. When it opened again he walked out, looking straight at us, and promptly fell down the step outside the stage door. Ice – broken. Me and Mel burst out laughing and a very red Oli came over for a chat. We didn’t mention Bohemian Rhapsody. I’d met him before but it never fails to amaze me how softly spoken he is, especially when you consider the notes he belts out on stage. (Seriously – Hammer to Fall? WOW.) After the autographs and pictures, (in which I bevelled my leg like Anne Hathaway in The Princess Diaries – NOT cool) we said thank you and he wandered off. Another member of the cast was coming out of the door as we turned around. I knew I’d seen him somewhere before – was he on Corrie? Yes! It’s Curley! Oh my god, it’s Curley, I used to love him! Crap, what’s his real name? Norman? No that’s his character’s name you fool. Quick, he’s leaving, say something! “Excuse me!” Oops. That was loud. Kevin Kennedy came over smiling and I told him how much I loved him in Coronation Street. We posed for a picture (I have the star struck idiot look down to a fine art) and before he left he gave me a hug and a kiss on the cheek. Eee! After he’d gone Mel wanted to meet Rachael (Scaramouche) but there was one problem – neither of us had a clue what she looked like! There were a few girls milling around with full stage make-up and we had no idea who was who. We eventually asked a (very scary) man if he’d seen her, and he told us to look out for her blonde hair, which she always had down. We waited patiently and, as we were consulting our programmes, she walked straight past us and back inside. Luckily the very scary man noticed her go past and called her back, and Mel got her picture taken with her. Mission complete.
Still buzzing, we made our way to a nice Italian restaurant just off Shaftesbury Avenue and tucked in to a gorgeous meal of spaghetti carbonara (Mel) ham and chicken pasta bake (Me) and then a warm waffle with berry coulis and ice-cream (both of us – one each of course.) As we sat enjoying the warm, fuzzy feeling that only comes after a really good meal, Mel got a tweet. “I was sat with my Grandma watching We Will Rock You – did you make it to the stage door?” Awkward!