Why I Have To Do The New Theatre Panto Interviews
TheSprout was recently offered the opportunity to interview the cast of Cinderella, New Theatre's Christmas Panto and Teaisprettyawesome, as a member of the Sprout Editorial Group, explains why she simply had to do it.
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Right. I don’t quite understand why I’m writing this, except for the fact that I need to explain why I feel I need to do the New Theatre Panto interviews.
So here goes; laugh all you want.
Some of you who know me outside of the matrix will know that I’m a qualified singing teacher. Some of these folks may know that I specialised in Musical Theatre, but very few of you will know of the dark period in my teenage years that my boyfriend refers to as my Lee Mead ‘fangirl’ phase. There was even a massive poster involved. Of Mr Mead in his Joseph costumeâ€¦
Yep, that costume.
No; it’s not as creepy, or stalkery, as you think. This was not an “I fancy him so he’s great” kind of thing. It’s true that he did win Heat’s ‘Torso of the Month’ but shhh. I loved him for his talent.
Any Dream Will Do
On the stage he was (and still is) an absolute joy to watch. He inspired me to go for what I wanted, and for that he will always be my hero. For those poor, poor individuals who don’t know who Lee Mead is, he’s now in Casualty. But he’s also a West End star. After years of floating about as an unappreciated understudy, he was shot into the limelight by BBC’s Any Dream Will Do (which aired in 2007), wherein Andrew Lloyd Webber looked for the lucky man who would star in his upcoming production of Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (incidentally, my favourite musical).
Musical Theatre was, at this point in my life, my world: I had finally found something that I could throw all of my energy into, and had happily embraced the beauty of combining my knowledge of Stanislavski’s method, whilst ignoring most of my singing teacher’s advice and blowing up my vocal chords (don’t do that, it’s stupid).
And I heard Lee singing the Rolling Stones’ Paint It Black. I’ve heard many versions of this song, even Lee’s album version (too edited by some stupid studio fools) and nothing... comes... close! I’m adding it to the article and you need to watch it. The quality is awful, but look at his eyes when you can. Just wow.
Anyway, my need for Lee to win was so great that I didn’t watch the final when it aired live. You may think that’s strange, but the fact is I was due to do my Grade Five Musical Theatre exam the following Monday and I knew that if, by some horribly biased voting system (I’m from Northern Ireland, we’re used to those) Mr Mead didn’t win, I would’ve been too devastated to have had a hope of passing. As it went, however, I did pass and he did win.
Months later, my scheming mother and sister presented me with tickets to see Lee as Joseph. They’d hid this from me for months! We were going to London!
When December came around (showtime!) I got a horrible bout of influenza; I almost couldn’t go. But I was filled with vitamin C and bundled onto the plane. It was everything I’d ever hoped for: he was spectacular. Unfortunately I was far too ill to stand at the stage door and get to meet my idol. It was horrible. *Cue violins*
Ash clouds, Wicked and finally meeting Lee
Fast forward to 2010. A mature eighteen-year-old stage school applicant is preparing for her Associate Diploma in Musical Theatre and has already done one Youth Music Theatre course (look them up and apply). That course allowed me to meet Rachel Tucker (A Northern Irish runner-up in name only from BBC’s I’d Do Anything- the follow up to Any Dream - and incidentally, the one I’d wanted to win!). Lee Mead in his loincloth was still on my bedroom wall, but I had slightly lost track of his career (what with my A-Levels and everything). But I’d starred in (and helped orchestrate) my school’s own production of Joseph... which was really their only musical worth talking about! Anyway, I was heading back to London after having received a callback for a stage school.
My life was awesome, except for that Icelandic ash cloud being a thing, which meant that I’d had to sit on a 16-hour coach from Belfast. But if I’d flown, I would never have got to the bus station and been greeted by my lovely Lee’s face on a massive poster advertising him as Fiero in Wicked. My wonderful mother immediately got us tickets for the night after my audition. So we went.
In my excitement I didn’t notice that the aforementioned Ms Tucker was playing Elphaba until I got the programme! The show was brilliant: seeing Lee and Rachel share a stage was amazing, because I’d actually chatted to her. See how chilled I am about meeting the stars? This time I was going to be at that stage door, just to shake his hand and thank him for all the inspiration.
There we were, my mother and I, at the stage door and I’m chatting away to all the cast as they walk past. Its midweek, so there aren’t that many people hanging around to grab autographs. We were just waiting on Lee and Rachel, and I was so excited to see them both.
Lee came out of the stage door and I managed to squeal “Lee!” in response to which he came straight over. I opened up my mouth to launch into a torrent of admiration andâ€¦
... ... ...
I couldn’t speak
I could sort of make “uhhrrh” noises and nod with my mouth gaping open. I’m sure that it’s clear from this article that I’m never at a loss for words. Ever!
It’s obvious, I think, and understandable that Lee now probably thinks I’m not the full shilling. He clearly thinks my mum is also there as my carer. He’s a perfect gentleman, though, and chats to my mum: asking where we’ve come from with accents like ours, and being flattered that this is our second show of his. He points out that Rachel is from Belfast too and that she’ll be out soon. My mum says “Oh yes, ‘TeaIsPrettyAwesome’ (consistent alias-ing there!) was on a wee course where Rachel was a guest mentor, weren’t you darling?” I nod and grunt. I sound like Mr Bean!
Kill me now.
He signs my ticket and shakes our hands and is just so normal that it makes me want to run into the path of a passing taxi. And he walks away. Done. Gone. No take backsies.
"My mum still thinks this is the funniest thing ever..."
This is the kind of thing that my brain reminds me of at 4am. 'Hey, you! Remember how stupid you were? Yeah, let’s relive all of that in slow motion!'
My mum still thinks this is the funniest thing ever, and took great joy in telling my boyfriend the story when they met. And he tells everyone now. I need to make this right. I know I can. This haunts me.
I need to re-meet him and show him that I’m not the person he thought I was (i.e. not differently abled). I also need to prove to myself that I can talk to him and not behave like a gibbering idiot. If need be I will print out this article and simply hand it over to him to read at his leisure (Hey, Lee? Wanna help theSprout? We’re cool, honest.). After a photo, obviously, I managed to not even get one of those; my phone was still off from the performance! Oh dearie me, I hope I get the chance to rectify the most embarrassing thing ever (even more embarrassing that my whole school seeing my pants! True story, that. But I’ve already said too much).
I’m so excited at the very prospect. Help a brother out, yo. And who knows, I might make an idiot out of myself again, for your reading pleasure! (Just kidding!)
If you have any awkward moments with celebrities that can be solved by interviewing them at a later point, why not join the Sprout Editorial Group? We have plenty of opportunities to interview people, review stuff and visit things, come along to the next meeting on Thursday 25th September 2014 or email Sam@TheSprout.co.uk
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