Monday, June 09, 2008

This One's for You, Dear Craig

After a stupidly prolonged absence, I finally made my grand return to the stage last night. I had been putting it off for one reason or another (studying, working, commuting etc) and it took a little push from a friend to get me back in the saddle, so to speak. I was performing at the Hailsham Pavilion as part of a charity concert organised by the gorgeous (and talented) Natalie, in memory of her dad and our mutual friend Craig, both of whom died before their time. As I was standing in the wings, waiting to give my all in their honour, I thought back to the first time I met Craig, when we were cast opposite one another as the lead roles in The Pajama Game, back in 1993. We hit it off straight away, sharing a mutually mischevious sense of humour that made rehearsals a scream, and were soon firm friends. It was a joy to perform alongside him in that show, and the others that followed. I'd always hoped we'd get to do a turn together again one day, but it wasn't to be, as Craig died of brain cancer in 2005, aged just 30.

It was an emotional and heartfelt occasion for so many reasons. All of the adult performers had either been in shows with, or were friends of, Craig and/or David (Nat's dad), and the audience included lots of old friends and family of both men. It was also the first time my mum and I had been on stage together since we did Annie about 25 years ago! She was compering the show, and a did a grand job, without the aid of a microphone. I was slightly perturbed at having to use a hand-held mic, something I've never done before. I don't think I really needed it in such a little venue, but our sound man wanted to make sure all the singers were level. My first appearance was a duet ('For Good' from Wicked) with Natalie, which closed the first half. In the second half I had my solo spot, singing 'Hymne a l'Amour' (in English), originally recorded by Edith Piaf. This was especially emotional, as it followed straight on from a very moving performance from 10 year old Gus, singing an original composition written in memory of Craig by his ex-boyfriend, Michael England.

video
Me singing 'Hymne a L'Amour' (filmed by Ant from row G)

For the finale, everyone piled on stage to sing 'Seasons of Love' from Rent - not one of my favourite musicals, but Craig loved it, so we gave it our all for him and the sentiment rang true. Belting out a ridiculously high note at the end, I looked skywards and devoted it to my dear friend - gone but never forgotten. After the show, cast members and their respective entourages piled into the pub opposite for a much-needed drink and hug-fest, congratulating Natalie on a job well done. There was also much discussion of what my next theatrical venture might be, now that I've been re-initiated. The trouble is, no one seems to be doing any shows that I fancy being in, and I'm also scared of turning up to a new society and braving the inevitable cliques. I guess I'll just have to put on my own production, casting all my friends and giving myself the juiciest part of course! Watch this space for further ponderings on this subject...

2 comments:

  1. Well done, Ro! Glad that it went well and that you want to get back behind the footlights :)

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  2. as an old school friend of craigs i just wanted to say he was always a good guy, and although i haven't seen him since the early 90's he's one of the few from school i've thought about over the years and i'm sorry to hear that he's gone.

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