DIARY OF A SHOW DAY IN CHELMSFORD

8:00
Alarm. Breakfast, coffee, checking messages. Keyboard player Louis' and backing vocalist Jerneys flight is delayed. I knew we had taken a huge risk letting them fly on the day of a show, but we had no other option this time. If the situation wasn't so stressful, I would have performed a told-you-so dance.

9:30
On the phone with drummer Paul to discuss our new departure time from Liverpool. Chelmsford is a long, long drive. ETA of the plane: 11:15. Our ideal departure time from Liverpool: 9:30. I ask friends on Facebook if someone has a spare time machine.

9:57
I ring sound engineer Ben to tell him he should start setting up without us today. He overslept this morning, but is on his way now to pick up sound engineer Zak and guitarist Liam. They should be at the theatre well before us.

10:49
Bobby's vice grip hands have managed to open the oil cap Paul and my neighbour Simon failed to open yesterday. We're good to go, but should get fuel fairly soon.

11:07
Louis and Jerney have landed, Paul, Bobby and I are at the airport parking trying to reach them. Five calls, still no response. We assume it took the airport ages to get the stairs for the plane ready. It turns out Jerney hasn't switched on her UK mobile phone.

11:36
Finally on our way!

12:01
Road works just outside Liverpool. Traffic jam. Paul is awfully silent, staring at the fuel meter, which is far in the red now.

12:18
Call from Ben. They are in a traffic jam.

12:22
We stop for fuel. I desperately need a bathroom by now; even though we've hardly left Liverpool, I have been on the road for two hours now. This might also be our last chance to get something to eat until after the show. Of course this is a very shitty service station. No Waitrose (where they sell some wholegrain salads and other things I can properly perform a show on), just a tiny WHSmith with a range of about three sandwiches. I choose what seems to be the least disgusting one and run to Costa for a toasty. The guy before me doesn't understand how much he has to pay or what any of the coins are. Despite there being four baristas behind the counter, the toaster beeps for ages before one of them cares to take my toasty out and hand it to me.

13:22
We're on the toll road. The weather is great. Two and a half hours to go, according to the satnav. I secretly want to have a walk along the beach in Holland. Barefooted.

13:40
We're checking traffic reports regularly and find a two hour delay on one of the possible routes. We ring the other van to warn them about the holdup on the M11. To our relief, they were not planning on taking that route.

13:55
I realize I have forgotten some essential make up items, since I had taken them with me to Holland last week. Trying to think about alternatives. I am sure I don’t have any foundation, but am unsure as to what else I’m missing, since I had changed my mind about four times before taking them out of the case. The case is in the other van by the way, so no way of checking either. Meanwhile, we have entered what Ben calls the 50 Mile An Hour Misery Zone.

14:44
Another stop, this time at services we don't know, which is weird to us. Paul suggests the UK closes all the theatres and we perform in motorway services instead, as that would be far easier for us travel wise.

16:08
We arrive at the theatre. I am stiff as a board from the long drive. My back is killing me. I start stretching. I can't touch the floor, which is a bad sign. Seven hours of stress and travelling and we haven’t even started yet; this audience better be worth it!

16:54
I have started putting all the costumes in place. I can't find my top hat. I fear it fell out of the van, but a phone call to our local cafe in Liverpool tells us I left it there this morning. Relieved. I will use another hat tonight, as the theatre - oddly - doesn't have a spare battered top hat.

17:39
Costumes are ironed and in place, stage is set up and swept, we're all ready for sound check. The stage is quite big and since it is now empty, I walk around, doing pieces of the dance routines to place and remember them for tonight's show. I keep this diary while singing; multitasking to the max.

18:07
I find a nail sticking out of the stage. As it turn out, these floor boards don't just have screws, but extra nails. Zak finds a hammer and jams three nails in. As we finish sound check, I inspect the rest of the stage on hands and knees for nails that stick out, with the hammer in my hand. My search is being complicated by the amount of leftover glitter from another show.

18:24
The others have gone out to get some food. I get a glass of water and start doing my hair and make up. There doesn't appear to be any soap in this theatre, so my fingers are now applying a mixture of cream and stage dirt from the nail search directly on my skin. I have a bad hair day. Luckily, I brought some shampoo. Too bad though I forgot my hair dryer, so there's no use in actually washing my hair.

18:50
The guys have managed to get some Chinese take out. We eat it from a selection of different sized bowls and plates, with the plastic forks the take out place provided. Fancy. We discuss words that the Dutch think are English, but actually aren't (like 'smoking', which is the Dutch word for tuxedo). Jerney asks me if I have some mascara, because she forgot hers.

19:15
30 minute call: time to finish hair and make up. As it turns out, Jerney and I both did bring our foundation, but no mascara and no eye pencil or eye liner. We do our best with the small selection of eye shadow I did bring (we are both not very good with make-up). I am struggling to get ready in time, and to make matters worse, I knock over the glass of water. I manage to save my belt packs, microphone, in ear monitors, phone and iPad, but my first costume of the show is soaking wet. If only I had a hair dryer...

19:45
Show time. Aside from the wet skirt, everything goes as planned and the audience is lovely!

20:45
First half went fine and we have a ‘break’ now. I now have to change costumes again. I need to find the black vest I was wearing in the first couple of songs to wear now. It's in my quick change area. Which I can only access by crossing the stage, or by walking past some glass doors leading to the foyer where the audience is now. I am only wearing a leotard, so I send Liam to find the vest for me. I return to my immensely messy dressing room to see what I can do with my hair. On the wall I spot a sign saying all dressing rooms will be locked 30 minutes after the performance. I panic. Knowing I'll be busy straight after the show, I instantly start tidying, but fail miserably.

22:15
We had a marvellous show! There was dancing along with Wuthering Heights, some lovely interaction during The Big Sky, a standing ovation and lots of posters to sign. Despite a technical problem near the end of the show, I think we had a great performance. The guys are faster than lightning packing up all the gear after the meet and greet. I do my stretches while the local crew is packing up the risers. The dressing rooms have not been closed yet when we leave the theatre.

23:26
We're on our way after getting fuel and midnight snacks. Intensely blinking lights on the M25 warn us for fog. We never see any.

01:12
After our first stop we have swapped seats so Jerney can help me stay awake, to support Paul who is driving. She has an app that makes random noises, so every now and then we hear an alarm, funny song or an 'oh lala'. It even makes Paul laugh.

2:54
Another stop. Returning to the van, I slam the car door at exactly the same time Jerney loses her balance and grabs the side of the van. My door slams her finger. It's bruised and we go back into the services to get ice from McDonalds.

3:15
We enter a foggy area (but no warning signs for it this time). Paul can’t find the button for the fog lights. By the time we have found it, we have passed the fog.

4:03
We’re home and I have already taken a shower. It has been a long day, and we may be mad for doing this. But the question is: was it worth it. And as usual, the answer is yes! Seeing so many people enjoy a show so thoroughly is definitely worth all the hassle we encounter on days like these!



 

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