The London Palladium,
December & January 2015
It doesn't matter what my feelings may be on the changes made to my favourite show as it transferred to London for its first West End Revival in 2014, it's still my favourite show, and the cast was the same talented, wonderful, warm-hearted cast who I had grown so attached to on tour, so, during their time in London I made several trips down to the Palladium stage door to see them. My attachment to this cast and the affection and gratitude I felt for them was such that, even though the ticket prices and the logistics of an overnight stay meant that I couldn't make it to many performances, I still felt it was important to go out of my way to let them know I was still supporting them wholeheartedly and that their performances still meant the world to me, even if I couldn't be there to watch them. I had made a promise at stage door in Birmingham that, even if I couldn't afford tickets to the show, I would absolutely make it down to the stage door to bring them "some cakes or something" - and I was true to my word, much to the cast's surprise! In December I set about making a whole batch of - if I recall correctly - caramel cupcakes and bought up a ton of pretty cake decorations in the hope of making some Cats themed designs. As you can see from the pictures, I had varying levels of success at making things as neat as I would have liked as the rush was on to get everything done in time because I wanted them to be fresh but I had an early start the next day to make it down to London in time to be at stage door before the cast would be arriving for their evening show - some designs ended up very rushed, but I wanted to be sure there were enough cupcakes for there to be one for every member of the cast plus a few spares so that was what was most important of all to me, and fortunately the special designs I picked out for those cast members who I was especially close to all turned out more or less exactly how I had imagined; to this day I think of the Carbucketty cupcake I made for Joel Morris as being one of the crowning achievements of all my time at the stage door! I told the cast I would be delivering cupcakes the following day but NONE of them believed me, it turned out! That morning I was so nervous about getting down to London on time and with all the cupcakes in tact; I put the new Take That album on my headphones, wore my new winter coat I'd bought in the sale (which from that day forward pretty much became my lucky stage door coat!) and packed the cupcakes carefully into a large tote before taking the Very Slow But Much Cheaper Train down, wondering the whole time if the whole crazy plan would work out and hoping the cast were at least expecting me. The cast, it turned out, were no expecting me! None of them could believe I'd come all the way down just to give them cupcakes and not even see the show; I explained how I couldn't afford tickets right then but wanted to make good on my promise and they were all so lovely and ridiculously kind to me in return and they loved the cakes and the designs, even the messy ones. Adam Lake and Kathryn Barnes were incredibly kind and grateful, and I remember in particular a group including Joel Morris, Dane Quixall, Ryan Gover and Hannah Kenna Thomas being so kind and lovely and taking the two large cake trays in for me after we had a great conversation about the show and how London was going and about me coming down just for the delivery (I am so sorry if others were there who I haven't mentioned but I was SO overwhlemed by how sweet you all were to me!) I was so worried about missing my train home that I unfortunately missed out on seeing Cassie Clare in person, but Dane kindly took her cupcake for me - turned out in the end I still had an hour before my train when I got to Euston, but I am so paranoid about these things I had misread the time! Of the group I had been talking with before I left, Joel was the one who stayed with me the longest; he was so delighted with the cupcake and so touched I'd come all that way just to deliver it to him and he really made such an effort to stop and chat with me and it was truly such a lovely conversation it's no wonder I was convinced I was running late afterwards because he just made me feel so happy, happy as if I actually had been able to see the show almost. He was so precious, showing off his cupcake to the stage door keeper and other cast members as they arrived and getting me to hold the little box open for him to take a picture to post online too. As I was about to leave he gave me a big hug and asked me something which has stuck in my mind forever as one of the kindest, sweetest things that anyone has ever done for me at stage door: "Is there anything I do as Carbucketty you really love so I can do it tonight?" - I wish I had said something specific in reply, honestly, because there were a million things, but I was so overwhelmed all I could muster was a "I love EVERYTHING you do as Carbucketty" and he told me "I'll do Carbucketty for you tonight" and gave me another hug. I've never, ever forgotten that kindness and I never will. It was a profound, beautiful and bittersweet moment on the train home that night as I saw the time and knew he would be on stage at that moment, performing Carbucketty so beautifully. Funny how one of the best days I ever had at the stage door, I didn't even see the show that day! But that was how special and dear this cast were to me - and also just how unique the entire unexpected West End transfer from tour experience was too, things had changed and maybe to me just seeing them at stage door but not the show was some connection to the way the show had been before.
The cupcakes trip had gone so well and been so surprisingly enjoyable to me (despite the lack of seeing the show itself!) that I ended up making another similar journey in January, this time specifically to see joel so I could give him a present and a cake I'd baked for his birthday. Joseph Poulton (Mistoffelees) was actually the first person I saw that day and he was surprised to see me, so I told him I was there to give Joel a present and he asked if Joel knew I was coming - however it turned out that Joel, again, hadn't believed me when I'd said I was coming all the way down to London just for his birthday! Shortly after Jospeh had gone into the theatre, Joel himself put in an appearance and was so surprised once again to see me - after a quick chat he said he would just go in for his appointment with the show physio and he asked if I could wait so he could come back after and talk to me properly and maybe go and get a coffee together. This time I had allowed a little more leeway with my train booking so I was very happy to be able to say yes to the invite and when Joel came back about twenty minutes later he told me again how surprised he was to see me and thanked me again for coming - he asked me if he was the oldest kitten ever, and told me he felt like the oldest kitten ever, before we headed off for drinks and a very lovely chat about both our lives and of course the show and for the first time it occurred to me that Joel was so very much more dear to me than just a person who had been in my favourite show. I don't know if you can call it friends, but you can't just call it being a fan of him either; it's a tricky thing to describe without sounding either weirdly cold towards him or far too attached so I don't know how to explain it, but I feel these two trips I made despite one having a show to attend were definitely the time when the way I saw him shifted this way, and it is something I only mention because it somewhat explains how, after the Palladium run had ended and Joel had supposedly "retired" once again from the show I ended up flying off to Belgium just to see him play Carbucketty again! But, I digress - that is a different story from a different adventure entirely - though when it comes to this small non-show-attending adventure there is little more to say. I gave Joel his presents and his cake, which he again showed off to the stage door keeper and promised to share with his castmates before hugging me goodbye as I left for Euston show-less but content once again.