Archives for posts with tag: National

This week’s blog has a soundtrack to go with it. Listen to THIS whilst reading.

When your alarm goes off at 6 in the morning all you want to do is ignore the world and return to your dream of Olivier (or Tony if you’re one of my few American readers – I know, cool right) nominated performances. This is heightened to its extreme on a Sunday morning and on Sunday 29th that was my alarm – it seems there is no rest or mourning for the wicked. I had to get up at 6am because I had a singing audition at 9am. Needs must though so I rolled out of bed and started sirening. Outside of the house the ‘It’s Sunday morning!’ confusion continued as I walked through Peckham in a red dress and hair primed at the slightly less ungodly (ungodly even, if not especially, on a Sunday) hour of 7am. It took some self restraint to not sing ‘Mysterious Ways’ from the Color Purple to everyone who gave me a funny look but with the joyful lyrics swimming round my head my lethargic body got a Sunday spring in its step. 

Obviously, I overestimated the time it would take to get to the audition venue via public transport (but you never can trust tfl) so I went to kill some time in the safe haven of Starbucks. As I sat down with my coffee I noticed the song that was playing had the repetitive lyrics “Ain’t nobody that can sing like me”. This seemed all too coincidental in perfect timing to hear just before a singing audition so I’ve since found the song and I think it may become my new pre-audition ‘go get em’ anthem. It certainly made me laugh, overdressed, in a Starbucks at 8am, on a Sunday.

LISTEN HERE (after Sunday, obviously. Don’t cut off Sondheim) 

Audition done, Sunday was also my last day of staying at friends’ houses and I couldn’t really go back to the house before 6pm. By now it was 10am, which is debatable as a decent time on a Sunday, so I called my friend Adam to plan a catch up. As we know there is no rest (or mourning) for the wicked so I agreed with Adam (the stagey soul that he is) that we could go to the National Theatre so he could be productive with his school work. Brushing my student envy aside, I agreed that I could waste a day in the National, reading a book or browsing the book shop, completely contented. As we walked into the Nash (can I call it that now I’ve established its full title?) alarm bells went off as we spotted that there were tickets available for the matinee of Edward II. Lo and behold, they had £5 entry pass* tickets available. How could we refuse? We still had a few hours to be productive in and going to the theatre is educational (right?!) so if Adam didn’t have an excuse, I didn’t have an excuse. Sold. It soon transpired that my friend Rupert was on his way to the National because he had received an email from entry pass** for the £5 tickets so he too thought “why not?”. To put the cherry on top of the cake, his seat was next to mine – the universe was on my side this Sunday. 

*I hope if you’re 16-25 you signed up to the entry pass system as talked about in my tickets blog so you don’t miss out on things like this! 

** Seriously, sign up to entry pass

Near us in the audience was Hattie Morahan who is currently giving away her heart and soul every night at the Duke of York’s in ‘A Doll’s House’. Our first thought when spotting her was that even following her exhausting show schedule she still comes to the theatre on her day off – snaps for Hattie! This little fan girling moment, however, does lead me nicely into the additional information I wanted to share with you in this blog post. 

After years of being rejected at box offices, failing to persuade them that my £20 was better than letting their seat go unsold, I have finally found success. It started one day when I was trying to get standing seats for Les Miserables (when the house is sold out you can pay to stand at the back of the Dress, if you’re in comfy shoes it’s worth it) when my friends jumped in front of me on Shaftesbury Avenue and told me not to bother as they were all gone. It was 7.17pm and we didn’t want to waste our trip into town so decided to bash our heads together and think what theatres could accomodate us at this time. Long story short, we ended up at Mamma Mia paying £20 for great seats. As it was a popular show I had never seen before I considered that a bargain. The following week I walked past Matilda with a group of friends at 2.25pm and thought we might as well just pop in and ask. We managed to get best available (which were incredible) for £30 – again, an absolute bargain based on the popularity of the show. Then last week I popped into ‘A Doll’s House’ (aaaahhh, there’s the link) and got a great seat for £10* and finally, the example of £5 with Edward II. 

*This one I really recommend you do. Morahan’s performance is not to be missed. Many people study ‘A Doll’s House’ in their time so if you are studying or have studied the play this version is a must see. If its the only production you ever see of this classic, go see hers. 

So there’s another cheap(er) method of getting tickets to add to your list. Tomorrow I’m going to queue for ‘Chimerica’ as that is the latest on my list of must sees. Let me know if you have any success getting into any shows last minute. There’s no harm in asking a box office if you’re just walking past. Why not go on a Sunday? You’ll get to see a great piece of theatre and be home in time for Downton Abbey – what could be better? It was the perfect send off to my three weeks of homelessness and it’s a way I wish I could spend every Sunday. Happy Last-Minute-Ticket-Hunting and Happy (premature) Sunday!

As an aside: I’m sure you’ll all be pleased to know that I’m all settled in my new house and that my theatrical paraphernalia is out in force. Here’s a small section of my new room, feel free to play spot the stagey item. 

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Amongst my belongings is a picture of the composer Charles Miller. It was my ‘Teachers Pet of the Year’ award from LSMT. It sits with pride on my shelf.

 

“It’s Sunday morning, so make a joyful noise. (Joyful noise) unto the lord! Today’s the day god hath made. It’s Sunday! Sunday! It’s Sunday! It’s Sunday morning, so make a joyful noise unto the lord!”

– Rebecca Ridout

 

In true theatrical style, let’s start at the very beginning.

Firstly, let me explain the title of my blog. Whilst in my final year of training at the London School of Musical Theatre (from here on in I will use the acronym LSMT) I got a reputation for always having the answer to any kind of theatrical trivia question. A phrase soon came about stating “When in doubt, ask Ridout” and it caught on pretty quickly. Inspired by this I then used it as a way of getting people to pronounce my name correctly (when in doubt, its pronounced ‘Ridout’) – two birds with one stone: a nice little nerdy reputation and a correctly pronounced surname! Then over the course of the year the questions that were asked of me developed from musical theatre trivia to…well…absolutely anything. You name it, I was asked it.

Therefore, I think “When in doubt…Ridout” captures exactly what I want this blog to be (questions about my life answered) However, I’m still unsure as to what content will fill it on a fortnightly basis! Sometimes it will be an insight into the highs & lows of being a new graduate, sometimes it will be me needing to tell you all to read/watch/listen to something and sometimes it will just be a way for me to let off some musical theatre themed steam. I hope all of the above will be worth a read though! It may occasionally be an inspiration and it may occasionally have the ‘Jeremy Kyle’ effect of making you feel better about your own situation (even if its a case of schadenfreude at my expense) but that’s all it needs to be.

So here goes everything. My first experience of highs and (a very big) low since graduating.

On my first Monday morning as a graduate I had what you could call an exceptionally good day. I signed my contract with my agency, I went to the Tate Modern with some of my best friends pretending to be oh so cultured and finished the day drinking wine and rubbing shoulders with half the cast of Downton Abbey at Spamalot’s after show drinks for Hugh Bonneville’s debut. I felt pretty damn jammy. Life continued like this for two blissful weeks whilst knowing I was soon to start rehearsals for National Youth Music Theatre’s (from now on ‘NYMT’) production of ‘West Side Story’. High after high after high watching friends smash their professional debuts and thinking “that will be me soon enough” Then on the 3rd of August I lugged my suitcase (with pilates foam roller in hand) across London to head to Kent for rehearsals.

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Now I could write an entire essay on what an incredible experience ‘West Side Story’ was and what it meant to me as a performer. I won’t here though. If you’re interested though you can scroll back through my twitter (@beccaridout) and see what was happening and how blissfully happy it made me. My friend Amy replied to my tweets saying “Oh, are you enjoying your West Side Story experience then Rebecca? You should’ve said” and if you already follow me on twitter you’ll know exactly what she means. I was an incessantly happy tweeter. So I won’t bore you with it on here too!

The Saturday night performance of ‘West Side Story’ has now become what I’d like to call my “patronus moment” (just in case you aren’t a Harry Potter fan I mean one of the strongest, happiest memories you can recall). I was stood on the top of a shipping container on our incredible set and as soon as Amara said “Te adoro, Anton” I felt the vibrations of our 33 piece orchestra play out the closing chords of, arguably, the greatest musical ever written.

I think this photo shows how unbelievably elated I was – look at my little beaming face.

That was the ultimate high. In true dramatic fashion I do fear if it may genuinely be the ultimate high of my career. Not because I feel that my career won’t move onto bigger things than an NYMT production but rather because West Side Story is my favourite (and as previously stated, arguably the best) musical. It was a unique site specific production where we (or rather the creatives Nikolai Foster, Drew McOnie and Tom Deering) re-invented a classic. I can’t put it quite as eloquently as Mark Shenton did in his blog for The Stage so I’ll share what he thought:

“The joy of Drew McOnie’s work is that it is classically inspired, just as Robbins’ was, but also pulses and shimmers to its own distinctive vision, beautifully displayed by this eager young cast. There’s rawness and eagerness, vigour and danger in every step they take, and re-make; the usual critical language of dubbing it bold and breathtaking just won’t do. Instead, it does something even more vivid: it makes you look at the whole show in a new way.”

It really is going to be difficult to top that patronus moment I tell you!

Then after the high, as much as I tried to fight it, came the low. Hungover, I was driven back to London the following day (not helped by the bumpy road surfaces for miles stretching out of Manchester. I shudder at the memory) and BAM. Reality. I had a life admin to-do list as long as my arm and an insane amount of washing. I was no longer singing about a glorious place for us all or needing to have a dance off with someone over a small tiff. I had post-show blues. Then to add to this, on my kitchen table there was a letter from my school – it contained my diploma. Instead of being thrilled with my result I realised I had not mourned my loss of training because of the hiatus (remember? those two blissful weeks?) between graduation and ‘West Side Story’. These post-show blues then spiralled out of control because of combining with post-school blues. Ouch.

It’s been an emotional couple of days with tears springing out of my eyes at the most inappropriate moments (namely when I hear the words ‘somehow’,’someday’ or ‘somewhere’) However, as I learned from Uberfacts on twitter this morning: “Crying is good for your health – Flushing unhealthy bacteria out of your body, strengthening the immune system and relieving stress.” I’ve medicated my broken heart with 3 trips to the theatre in as many days, spending time in the sunshine and probably most significantly starting this blog. Rather than sitting down and thinking “I have nothing tangible in the future to look forward to” I’ve been thinking I have a great expanse of unknown in front of me in regards to my career and, to quote my favourite composer*, I am ‘excited and scared’ to start exploring it.

*I won’t say who it is, I’m hoping you’ll guess.

If you’ve got this far, thank you so much for reading this. I hope you return. Who knows what the next fortnight will hold but that’s the beauty of the industry. I guess any lessons from this experience to any newly graduated performer is to make sure you deal with any ‘no more training’ emotion before you may have to face post-show blues! Make sure you have tissues and friendly faces waiting for you when you return to normal life and if you’ve been away on residential have plenty of washing powder stocked up!

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Then when you’ve finished posing in front of a poster for a production you’ve just been in, giving it your best ‘sad face’, dust yourself off and step leap towards the next opportunity.

“Hold my hand and we’re halfway there, hold my hand and I’ll take you there. Somehow, someday, somewhere…”

– Rebecca Ridout