One of our newest members, Christine Peirson writes about her experience joining the group and being in both our panto, Treasure Island, and Blithe Spirit
Before January, the last time I had been on a stage was way back in University! I’d always wanted to get back into it, but unfortunately, being slightly nervous about joining a group in London and working shifts kind of put a halt to it. Things changed when I moved to a 9-5 job and found I actually had time on my hands, so I got on to Google and ta- daa! I found New Stagers. I really missed acting and that was the main reason I joined, but having only moved to London a year ago, the social aspect was pretty important to me too and the group seemed to offer both in spades, so here I am!
I joined just as the panto was about to kick off – I admit I did have my reservations as a poorly done pantomime is painful to sit through, but any doubts I had quickly faded within minutes of reading the script, as I found myself giggling after only the first few lines! Although my acting background is mainly pantomime, I still found the auditions pretty nerve-wracking. Luckily things worked out in my favour and leaving with both a part in the bag and clutching my very own script was such a rush! And a bit of a shock after racing down the M1 after a weekend camping wondering if I was even going to make it to auditions in time!
The run up to the show was so exciting: getting to know the cast, rehearsals (plus post-rehearsal de-briefs in the pub!), set building and watching the show come to life on tech day was a wonderful experience! The weeks rolled by and suddenly it was opening night; there was such a shared joy among the cast as we heard the audience laugh at the jokes – we’d clamber together as a group backstage and laugh along with the audience as they heard each pun for the first time. The difference in their collective personality each performance was really interesting too, although my favourite night was when the rum shack opened for the first time!
The acting bug was back and I was hooked! So much so, that I auditioned for and landed a role in Blithe Spirit before the panto even made it to the stage! Things have been really different this time around – smaller cast, new faces and a completely different style. Add to that the pressure of being involved with such a talented cast, given my past, I was worried about being too ‘pantomime’. Particularly as my role; Edith the maid, is quite a comedic one. Luckily, thanks to the character discussions, read throughs and rehearsals, I’ve hopefully managed to leave my ‘pirate / panto mannerisms’ behind me! I do miss the tattoos though…
It’s been both bittersweet and exciting watching the set transform from a far-away ‘treasure island’ into a 1940s front room – the creative talents of the group keep shining through in different ways, which it is a real joy to see and makes you proud to be a part of.
Rehearsals are currently well under way and ticket sales are going well, which is quite nerve wracking! Watching the team bring the play to life is brilliant and Sunday afternoons and Tuesday evenings are speeding by at a rate of knots. I’m really looking forward to opening night and waiting with baited breath to see how the audience find it – especially as I subject them to my singing voice! I’m not particularly gifted in the singing department, so that is my biggest worry if I’m honest. It may be a bigger worry for the directors as at this moment in time, they haven’t heard a demonstration, so if there isn’t any singing in the play by the time April comes around, you’ll know why!
Getting to act again after so many years has been a real privilege and such a high, but what I’m mostly thankful for is being part of the New Stagers group. I’ve developed a real bond with my ‘Treasure Island’ family and the same thing is happening all over again with the cast of Blithe Spirit, which I just love. It doesn’t end with the cast though, New Stagers is more than the people on stage – the many people who helped out behind the scenes have made it really special for me and helping out backstage (be it as prompt or stage hand) is now something I’m really looking forward to being involved in.
Having the casts and crew of both shows, who I now consider my friends, laugh and smile along with the same lines they’ve heard on repeat for the past few months, combined with the encouragement we get back stage is the most amazing thing and a real mood elevator. I’d never anticipated the enthusiasm and energy a group like this could produce and what a difference such a positive environment can make to the cast. The acting is fantastic, the professionalism is impressive, but it’s the spirit of the group that stands apart for me; it’s spot on.
But for now, I must rush back to the kitchens and finish polishing the martini glasses!