Sunday, July 24, 2005

You'll Do For Now

Well, we’re just back from the after-show party. It was a great party. Pretty much everyone from the show was there so there were lots of hugs and congratulations. The DJ’s managed to dig out the Jerry Springer version of I Just Wanna Dance and we treated the bar staff to a singalong. As the evening progressed, there was a lot of drinking, dancing and lots of Chorus members dispensed with their shirts. :oP

John G and his friend Esther had come down from Leeds for the day to see the show. They were both Chorus virgins but happily they seemed to have thoroughly enjoyed the performance. Unfortunately Esther’s ticket back to Leeds was not flexible so they couldn’t join us for dinner, so Ping and John M (who had turned up for a second show on spec) had dinner with us instead in a rather nice restaurant called Chinese Experience on Shaftsbury Avenue.

I’m still on the high from the show, but I expect I will crash tomorrow, so tonight I wanted to record all of the positive memories about the show.

I want to remember the waiting backstage, watching the audience fill up before Chris D switches the screen to watch the stage and cues the music team to positions. How bizarre Simon S looks, standing upstage of the soloists, conducting for the empty rostra. I want to remember standing eyeballing the audience, waiting to sing, after my march to the front of the stage in Another Hundred People and the agonising minute tonight when Greg forgot his monologue and had to vamp until he remembered his line.

Marc D spotlit, standing front and centre in the cloud of stage smoke as the piano picks out the simple introduction to Our Time and his delicate opening of the song. Listening to Greg’s solo of Nowadays, waiting for our entry: Men…, Jazz…, Booze…, Life! Counting out the rounds of claps, ready for our cha-cha-cha entry at the start of Music To Watch Girls By and watching the dancers and soloists do their Old Compton Street cruising in the dance break.

I want to remember the idyllic scene and innocent smile on Louise’s face as she enters to meet her ‘boyfriend’ at the start of Baby Face and how she turns from him when he is arrested for cottaging. I want to remember the lyrical flow of The Trellis and how confident I felt singing it.

I want to remember the moment at the start of I Just Wanna Dance when everything goes still, and we are a tableau in the smoke and coloured lights, while Paul T quietly opens his solo. The audience chuckle at the first line thinking: Did he really just sing ‘fuck’ on stage?? Yes he did but it’s a beautiful song and as Paul builds the solo the Chorus comes in with their ethereal echoes of his words. Then he takes his drugs and the whole number changes to a high-speed dance number with Paul and the dancers showing off all their synchronised moves while we punctuate his lyrics. Then the end of the number and the sheer adrenalin as we all punch the air on the last word: Dance! The audience loves it. We love it too. The energy; the release!

I want to remember the silly grin on Simon R’s face as he and his two companions appear above the curtain stretched across the stage for Three Is A Magic Number. I only have a partial profile view but he is clearly milking the humour for all he can. The whole group of singers, smoothly rising and falling behind the curtain like nodding dogs, making the whole thing a comic piece with their over the top suggestions of daily life in a commune. Then there is the Athlone Road Speech and sitting for Space Oddity, tenderly holding the dancer Jonathan exactly as I hold Brett when we are snuggled together on the sofa, but with Charlie on his knees beside us conducting inches from my face and the projection screen behind us slowly, squeakily retracting to reveal the balcony from which Paul T does his Major Tom duet with Russell E.

I want to remember the strange sense of incompleteness as we have drifted off stage with Paul’s monologue still in my head about how the communes didn’t last, but how he would never experience anything like that again; Seeing the empty stage on the monitor, with Russell still kneeling in silhouette before finally standing and walking slowly offstage to close the first half.

Then there’s the rush downstairs to exchange my Opening Number props for those for the second half – and also to take on some more water – the bonhomie and excitement in the corridors around the dressing room before heading back to our positions for the second half opening.

The second half opens with a summer day on the heath. Some of the looks I exchange with Paul L as we blatantly cruise each other – and everyone else on stage – while trying to remember to sing in the appropriate places! Then it’s back to formal positions on the rostra for the Night Waltz and we sway our way through the staid humour of this lovely little Sondheim piece.

I want to remember the small group, as still as statues, making up the trees of the heath at night for the dancers to cruise among; Russel E is very handsome in profile before me and I can just see Mike L’s spotlit face as he opens the peculiarly discordant number with a solo. After that, Pablo enters and the small group divides to gather around him and Marc D to sing their haunting, wordless piece composed by Charlie for the Internet chat-up. I’m not sure the music even registers on the audience; as they are too busy reading the cruising banter between the two guys on the screen above our heads, but the music is beautiful nonetheless. Then there is Pablo’s lonely solo Does The Moment Ever Come? and he has such a lovely voice that the memory of his singing that song makes my heart wrench.

I want to remember the cheesy grins and the Jane-Fonda-Workout choreography of YMCA and how the audience inevitably join in with the moves and the contrast between that high-camp number and the anguished Silence Equals Death piece about AIDS which follows it; then José’s slow, desolated conclusion: “It was fun to stay at the YMCA… You could hang out with all the boys…” I want to remember how we hit the opening chord of Don’t Look Back In Anger while still in the blackout and use the song to lift the mood of the audience again.

Before the applause can die away though, Simon is beating the opening to the Finale and we are off into that medley of the liveliest songs of the show, sometimes one after the other, sometimes sliced together or in counterpoint. How the soloists and small group and dancers weave in and out of each other, even as the melodies do, before the Chorus overwhelms their singing and strides forward to bodily swallow them up and close the show on the same line with which it began: “Another hundred people just got off of the train…”

Then there are bows and we are back to formal position for the encore and Charlie is punching out the entries to Something Inside So Strong. I’m rather ambivalent about it being the encore, but the each audience seemed to enjoy it – although possibly by that point they would enjoy anything we sang them as they are just as hyped-up as we are. There are more bows – and a long standing ovation on two nights – before we file off the stage to the sound of their cheers.

So those are the good memories I have of You’ll Do For Now. Maybe if more come back to me over the next few days, I’ll post them as well. I want to remember the show but at the same time I need to let it go. It’s been such a big part of my life for the last four months, especially so in the last few weeks, but now it is over. For all the talk, it is unlikely ever to be repeated. Time to move on. But, oh, has it been fun! Like we note about the gay communes of the 1970’s, I wonder if I’ll ever see it’s like again.

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