Well, after our week long break, the audiences of Sunderland were an absolute delight! Despite the town seeming incredibly quiet, in fact almost deserted on the rare occasions I made it out and about, the responses in the theatre were rowdy, raucous and utterly roof-raising!
We began the week with a mind-refreshing run of the lines, given that we'd had several days away from the show following an exhausting tech and first venue run in Manchester. Giving everyone a chance to go back over their roles from the comfort of the Sunderland Empire bar made for a rather speedy, and often unintentionally hilarious, version of Annie Get Your Gun which, whilst very funny to us, will hopefully never be seen by an audience!
This is the first venue that we've 'moved' the show to so the Tuesday was somewhat fraught. With two young local actors to rehearse in as Little Jake, a sound check, band call and technical session to complete all in one afternoon, we were a little pushed for time but good humour and lots of coffee saw us through it in a timely fashion. The Stage Management and Crew teams had worked tremendously hard to get the show fitted up in time for our rehearsals too, so Company Manager Extraordinaire, Kristi, topped the afternoon off perfectly by ordering every pizza in Sunderland for us all to tuck into pre and post show. It's certainly the best way to keep this group of reprobates happy!
The week in Sunderland has been slightly less busy overall than our weeks in Manchester thankfully, which has allowed the girls of the company to get some training in, as we're running the 10K Race For Life together in July for Cancer Research UK. Although the show is very physical and a great workout, getting some decent mileage under our belts before the race is pretty vital. If you fancy sponsoring us to make it even more worthwhile you can do so at Just Giving. This is a cause close to many of our hearts, so anything you can spare would be greatly appreciated.
This has also been a week for some fun though. On Friday we had the afternoon off for the first time so a bunch of the company headed up to Roker Beach to paddle in the surprisingly chilly sea and build sandcastles, as well as spend some time reflecting on the 70th anniversary of D-Day in the glorious sea air. The sun shone brightly for the day and after performing the 'Showbusiness' kick-line in the sea (as you do), eating fish and chips and enjoying an ice cream or two, we returned to the theatre suitably exhilarated and refreshed from the day, if also a touch sunburnt! Thank the heavens that stage make-up is quite thick and covers up the extra pink bits nicely!
Not everyone managed to escape the surreal darkness of the theatre for the day though. Now that we're open it's time to rehearse the understudies into their cover roles. With a fairly small company, most people do actually cover a role or two, but the focus this week was primarily on the Frank and Annie covers. Natalie, Sarah, Ed and Jonny worked incredibly hard and made it through the blocking for 3/4 of the show, which is wonderful as next week the understudy calls will be put on hold again whilst we finish rehearsing our Alternate Frank, Jonathan Wilkes, into the production. Jonathan is covering the dates that Jason, our usual leading man, had prior engagements on, and his first shows will be on the Saturday of Stoke. This means we're back to a very busy schedule of long days again, especially as we'll still have to tech and sound check on the first day. Fortunately there's only one Little Jake to rehearse in as George, one of the Jake's from Manchester, rejoins us for the work.
It's going to feel quite strange playing opposite a new Frank suddenly on Saturday, but it's also exciting, particularly as Jonathan will be on his home turf. Jonathan's interpretation of the role will no doubt be different to Jason's, which will certainly keep me on my toes, particularly when I'll get my Jason back the following Tuesday. Fortunately both Jason and Jonathan are equally lovely to work with which, quite 'Frank-ly', makes me the luckiest girl in showbusiness.
You can read more about the exploits of Emma and the Annie Get Your Gun company as they tour the UK, at www.emmawilliamsactress.blogspot.co.uk and visit www.atgtickets.com/shows/annie-get-your-gun for tickets.