POSTER DESIGN BY ALAN SMITH
Turkish rule in the Middle East during the 1800s was described as "neglect punctuated by massacre"; this seems the most apt description to fit the fantasy world of the early rehearsals into which the innocents of the upper school leapt. Three blissful months of Utopia were scantily filled with the occasional rousing chorus from the male section ensconced in the music room, while the ladies warbled their way through the opening scene, ably assisted by Mr Levesley on the higher notes. There was actually a rumour that the principal character had once read through the script, though this proved to be without foundation.
Then the axe fell. Three short weeks was all the time left before the first disaster - correction, performance - was due to explode before an unsuspecting audience. Every minute, every second was fully used to fill the wards of the Royal Hospital with patients requiring vocal chord transplants.
The commander surveyed his troops in the battlefield and was swiftly revived with smelling salts. Taking a firm grip of his shillelagh he mustered his men into action, and gradually something bearing a slight resemblance to "The Gondoliers" began to raise its head from among the melee of electricians and artists. This fine body of men, the electricians, deserving of special praise, worked solidly for two seconds per day to complete their contribution to the production.
The valiant ladies must not be forgotten, for their fine endeavours in the wardrobe and make-up departments. Through these pages I should like to thank the make-up girls and tell them that the scars are hardly noticeable now.
After a couple of barrels of blood, sweat and tears, everything was ready: the scenery was magnificent, though doubt crept into my mind as to its solidity when I was asked not to lean so hard on one of the supporting posts; and the lighting was near perfection, provided no-one had the misfortune to slam his car door too near the school.
Only during an actual performance can anyone get a true sense of delight from all the weeks of hard slog; there were certain remarks made to the contrary, it must be admitted, when a royal flush kept appearing just before "Bridegroom and Bride" . . .
As the male section retired to the comfort and warmth of the showers after the final performance, how many reflected on the fact that the seemingly impossible had been achieved nigh perfectly on the fact that the seemingly impossible had been achieved nigh perfectly by all concerned? How many felt deeply grateful to the backstage crew for the times that they had encouraged and helped, even in the most difficult situations? . . . to the other members of the cast for putting up with each other for so long, to the producers for having the immovable faith that the show would be a success, whether the cast were dead or not . . .?
Not one. They were
all too busy trying to get rid of that b lack hair spray.
John Fox (6L)