Soap & Glory's 'Kick Ass Concealer' is a lifesaver! I started using it this year as my go-to theatre make-up. Even if I forget/don't have time to put on anything else, I will make sure I have time to apply this stuff, or at least I will remember to take it with me! It's always kept handy for my 'stage door survival kit' as it is by far the most reliable concealer I've ever used. It's durable, it blends so easily and, above all, it conceals pretty much anything you need concealing if you want to look good in photographs! I managed to scratch myself on the side of my face just before seeing the Cats 2013 UK Tour for the first time and picked this up on a whim as Boots were having a 3 for 2 offer on Soap & Glory stuff, and I like a lot of their other products so I decided it was worth a try. The scratch practically disappeared and, the best part was that, unlike my previous concealer, this stuff didn't melt at the very thought of the heavy, hot atmosphere of a theatre! I highly recommend this stuff if you're hoping to look your best at the stage door - only £10 from Boots and comes in different shades as well and the time it lasts for alone makes it worth the price.
So, I was supposed to go and see Callum Nicol (my favourite Cats cast's Admetus/Macavity) in the ensemble of Dirty Dancing when the show came to my local: the Regent Theatre in Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent. But, unluckily, Callum wasn't in for that show and so there was no stage dooring for me after all - perhaps a good thing as I hadn't seen Callum since he left the Cats tour and it was a long time ago so I had no idea how I was going to jog his memory if he didn't recognise me. But it was SO nice to be in a theatre again. The smell of the theatre and cheering the ensemble more than the leads (which I always do coz I feel like the ensemble are always doing 10x more work but for no credit!) Then when we came out of the theatre, it was exactly when the forecast snow and wind hit! It's always surreal coming out of the theatre, but coming out to that!! It was a battle getting up the street - I was having to hold my dress down and push right against the wind and it was SO hard just to walk forwards, I'm not even exaggerating. My mum and me couldn't stop laughing on the way back to the car and it was just a nice night. And it was so funny my mum and me trying to explain why all the women in the audience were screaming at certain parts even though they knew it was going to happen and we were trying to describe to my baffled dad him why so many women buy into stories like that so much (I mean, it isn't my personal favourite love story, but the idea is the same as in all my favourites so my mum and me got it and my dad just didn't understand!!) Anyway, it was like a proper stage door night in a way because when I got home I sat down in my room not able to settle on anything, still wearing my theatre dress at 2am, listening to my stage door playlist and just feeling the spellbreaking in every fibre of my being! Not my favourite musical but it will always have a special place in my heart from now on!
Well, perhaps there's no such thing. But obviously, there's a reason the idea of a wardrobe essential being 'a little black dress' is so popular, right?! Dorothy Perkins are always my go-to shop, and they certainly seem to believe a black dress is essential wear all year round, because there's always at least one simple black dress available to buy. My personal favourite style? The 3% elastane, fit and flare style plain black dresses. In fact, all their plain fit and flare 3% elastane dresses are great. They're perfect for style, comfort and the way they move when you spin, which I think is essential in any dress! Also, they're great for stage door because they can go from night to day really easily and formal to casual really easily, plus you can completely change the look just by changing the scarf, shoes, coat, hair accessories or jewellery you wear them with.
I always like to wear black tights with my dress - but not always plain ones. I personally prefer the 120 denier tights, but I also love the patterned tights you can get too - another way I like to use to make the dress look different for different occasions. Tights with sparkles or stars can be fun too, and some nice, smart heels make the look pretty much perfect for a night at the theatre.
So when I found out that Chris Howell (my favourite Cats cast's Bustopher/Gus/Growltiger) was co-directing Chess at London's off-West End Union Theatre, I got tickets as soon as I could! And I'm so so so glad I did. The show was fabulous. Nadim Naaman and Sarah Galbraith were sensational in it - and as it was a show I'd never seen live before I was thrilled to learn more about it. I think it's a show that really works in the tightly-packed setting of the Union and the limited, sold-out run made me feel like I was part of something special in getting to see it. Nadim Naaman was possibly my overall favourite, but Natasha J Barnes and Sarah Galbraith both made me really wish I could have a cast recording of them in Nobody's Side and Someone Else's Story.
Not content with just seeing Chris' directing work, the next day I headed over to Victoria to see the man himself performing in Wicked. Another show I was seeing live for the first time. The show took my breath away, as shows always do - I adore watching a strong ensemble pull off a good story and this was no different. I was lucky enough to catch Chris before the show and the two of us had a lovely catch up, and he was so pleased to hear that I'd enjoyed Chess so much. Sadly I didn't manage to see Chris after the show, but if I had I would have told him he's as brilliant as ever, but sadly under-used in Wicked if you ask me.
For my 21st birthday, my mum put all of her baking and cake decoration skills to the test by giving me a surprise Cats the musical themed birthday cake! To say I was impressed would be an understatement. Cats has been my favourite of all shows since I was six and although you might not think a black cake would be appealing, I thought it looked gorgeous!
The way I survive a long daytrip to stage door and back? A little bag of tricks: two lipbalms or one balm and one gloss, a good hairbrush, good concealer, of course a mirror, a pack of mints (preferably chewable in case your train runs late and you're getting anxious!) Hair grips and elastics are always wise, some sort of ticket or travel pass wallet and definitely a pen and/or camera, depending whether you're an autograph hunter or if you're hoping for a photograph. And finally? I always make sure to take a bottle of perfume, just in case I end up sitting next to the guy eating a Subway on the train - you'd be surprised how many times that has actually happened to me, but maybe I'm just unlucky! My kit is always kept in a nice little toiletries bag which I rarely fully empty, unless it's to empty it out into a clutch bag for an evening show! If I'm going down to London though, then no matter what bag I take with me, that toiletries bag always gets crammed in, even if it's at the expense of a book! In the interval or before the performance I will touch up everything, just to make sure I'm ready to go the minute the curtain comes down - the lip balm is often then concealed in a handy coat pocket if I'm at stage door in winter, because the cold gets my lips every time!
My second time ever seeing We Will Rock You was birthday trip to the West End with my parents. We were actually down south for a football match - the result of which is best forgotten! I picked We Will Rock You because I had only ever seen a local youth theatre production at the Regent before and had thoroughly enjoyed it so I wanted to see the professionals. I also knew Zak Nemorin was a former ensemble member so I wanted to see the production he had been a part of - and as it so happened, Phil Comely was in the cast I saw, though I didn't have time to see him at stage door after. I do enjoy We Will Rock You but I don't tend to think of it as a proper musical somehow as it feels so much like a concert, even with the story and the characters and everything. My favourite moments are always Radio Gaga, because I love the song, and No One But You because it's so haunting. I also love the comedy value of the show a lot. Great fun at a great show.
On New Year's Eve 2009/2010 I went down to London to see the delightfully spooky play 'Darker Shores' - something I thouroughly enjoyed! A very creepy ghost story that I would highly recommend should another production ever be put on. One of the reasons I heard about the play was that an actor I like very much - Julian Rhind-Tutt of Green Wing fame - was in it. And I was lucky enough to meet him after the show! He was the first person to wish me a Happy New Year and I was on cloud nine all the way home!
So we all know that our sense of smell is always a huge memory-trigger right?! Exactly. And the smell of the theatre? That for-sure has a lot of memories for me! But I also am very attached to the perfume I was wearing the night I first went to a stage door. I made sure to wear it for every theatre trip after so that it would always be a smell I associated with good memories and now, whenever I get a waft of this perfume it makes me feel the exact-same way I did all those nights walking home from shows on a happy cloud. It's amazing how strongly the memories are attached to it. My perfume is Esteé Lauder's Pleasures Exotic, which you can find on cheapsmells.com - my go-to place for all my perfume buying! Pick a perfume and stick to it and see if the memories cling to it - or maybe you already have a favourite and you want to add it to your pre-show routine? Anyone have a favourite perfume for their theatre trips? Or maybe a shampoo or soap you've come to associate with the theatre instead?
So this is going to be a place where I'll post things I'm doing to do with the theatre; outfits I've chosen, tickets I've booked, shows I want to see or have seen even if I didn't go to stage door...maybe just some thoughts and feelings I have about the theatre in general. I might also slip some extra tips and hints and things I've learnt in here, as well as updating on where I've discovered former Cats cast members too. So yes; look out for a random collection of anecdotes, facts, theatre trip fashion and lots of things all to do with my theatre experiences both at and away from stage door.