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BIRMINGHAM AND SUNDERLAND

Posted in Derren's Posts

Posted by Derren Brown June 21, 2010 at 6:10 pm

Back to the Birmingham Alex and the loveliest in-house crew in the country. It was a joy to re-convene with Mike and Milton and Stu and John and the rest of the gang. We are ourselves a happy little family, though (apart from Simon, our excellent company manager), not a true ‘theatre’ bunch, and when we find a friendly crew it’s a lovely treat that we all enjoy. Very often there is an unhappy relationship in theatres between the in-house backstage crew on the one hand and the management and ‘front of house’ on the other. This sometimes results in the place, despite assurances from the management, not being ready as it should be when we arrive, normally because our specifications not having been properly communicated to the technical people who are to construct the bare bones of the show for us. This poor communication between front and back of theatres is a common frustration to touring shows. The Birmingham Alex is a glowing beacon of how well everything works when the relationship is a happy one and all parties involved enjoy their work and get along famously. Everyone – from usher to management to chief electrician – seems to constitute a true family and it is a true honour to put on the show under their roof. On Thursday night the Alex crew, some of the front of house staff and us lot went out for a late trek round the night-time bars of Brum and had a splendid evening. This was such a treat, and many theatres would benefit from this happy, family approach to putting on shows. (And a particular thank you to Chris at Island Bar who conjured up some sensational cocktails.)

Of course the other half of the enjoyment of a venue comes from the audience. Tuesday night, being at the start of the week, brought a slightly tired and quiet audience: a surprise for this city. Each day, as we moved through the week, the crowd got livelier and more responsive, and of course the show transforms with it. It’s one of the frustrations of performing that you don’t know why you can’t replicate a great performance you’ve had one night with an amazing audience the next night with a flat one. The relationship is of course famously symbiotic, with the audience giving much more than they are aware of. Anyone coming on the Tuesday night, no matter how much they might have enjoyed it, would have been struck by the difference on the Friday or Saturday. If only it were easy to keep the same pace and energy when the crowd is flat… I suppose that’s the challenge of doing it.

Friday lunch time was spent at the house of Judy (the blind lady who featured in the Bronnikov documentary), Marg her quite brilliant helper, and Reg, Judy’s hubby. Marg had prepared a huge spread of food and made trifle and cake: this was the finest treat we could imagine. Normally we have to grab food on the go, or eat soullessly in some hotel bar. To be lavished upon in this way was wonderful. We’re still finishing off the lemon sponge in the intervals.

Then to Sunderland. This was another return visit, and another beautiful theatre. The crowd, as expected, was delightful. High drama was provided at the start: the first frisbee got stuck in the lighting rig on the front of the balcony. One chap who was obviously determined to get involved decided to retrieve it, but to do so he had to climb over the balustrade. He stepped onto what he thought was a black platform but fell into nothingness between scaffolding, grabbing at a pole and hanging for a moment. A resourceful spotlight opera tot had to calm him down and give him directions to get back up. Still the guy insisted on clambering over the length of the balcony front to get to the edge and the star is to take him downstairs. Watching him scaling the crumbling balcony faced was terrifying. It was the first we’ve come to an actual death in the show… Please don’t be doing any of that.

Tonight, after a long drive with Mr Coops, it’s Northampton. Tonight (it’s the interval as I write) has brought an older audience, and between their polite responses and the ungenerous acoustics of the auditorium (which swallow up all their sound), it’s quite a different experience from the North. Plus I managed to knock over a prop and look like an arse.

Ho hum. Must dash for Act Two

COMMENTS
June 21, 2010 at 9:19 pm
Nikki says:

I love this blog post, because sometime in the last century, a great-great uncle was the director of the Alex!

It is a lovely theatre, glad you had such a good experience there.


June 21, 2010 at 9:28 pm
Karen Ratcliffe says:

I was at the Sunderland show and I had the best night I’ve had in a VERY long time. I was genuinely baffled and delighted. I recommend everyone to see Derren if they get the chance. My evening was topped off by meeting the man himself and having my ticket signed. What a gent. Unfortunately it meant that we missed the bus… and were 8 miles from home!!! x


June 21, 2010 at 9:28 pm
Rhian says:

“Plus I managed to knock over a prop and look like an arse.” Bless

I was there on Saturday night and the audience was as loud as it was last time I was at the Alex and probably on a par with Bristol crowds.

x


June 21, 2010 at 9:44 pm
Rose says:

Did that guy end up getting onto the stage in the end? Mustve been rather exciting really, but I hope he was OK.
Act Two is on as I write this. Hope everything I’d good. Back on the road for the final stretch then- and then off to do some stalking of the unsuspecting public for Autumn’s new series?
How wonderful.


June 21, 2010 at 9:48 pm
Hikky says:

Lmao…the guy in sunderland..i shouldnt be laughing but i really can’t help but to. Hope he was ok afterwards though… Have fun in northampton…take care and see you soon..:D..xx


June 21, 2010 at 9:54 pm

Hi Derren and Team!

Thanks for the truly incredible show at the Alex, Birmingham on Saturday. A wonderful night, I hope you enjoyed it as much as the crowd did.

Another thankyou for taking the time to chat with us outside, and sign some stuff, and have your photo taken so many times. Yet another thankyou for sitting in the road with that guy who was a bit ill! He’s gonna love that picture! And James – if youre reading this – hope your ok. (I’m pretty sure it was James…)

Love and hugs, and manly handshakes,
Matt – (£4 hand-shake guy)
Charlie – (very eager hugger, and first-aid-ee!)

Thanks again Derren, we will continue to love your work.

xx


June 21, 2010 at 10:25 pm
Daniel says:

I thought i was amazed with the tv shows and specials but coming to see my first special live, was out of this world! Thanks Derren for once again amazing me and creating the best atmosphere i’ve ever been in!


June 21, 2010 at 10:37 pm
Courtney Wright says:

I was there last night in Sunderland, the crazy spiderman guy was right in front of me! It was terrifying.

Unbelievably incredible night, Derren. Had so much fun. I have done so badly in the exam I had this morning, but you’re show was much more important.

I also saw Coops at the stage door having a cigarette and I got so excited but then he walked off. sadface. X


June 21, 2010 at 10:38 pm
Jane Blair says:

I thought Brum could not have been any better….best show EVER… then I hear about the frisby chasing man with death wish and feel I’ve been cheated!!!! How desperately did he want to get on stage???? How funny πŸ˜€ xx


June 21, 2010 at 10:49 pm
Chris Lazenby says:

Hi Derren and all the crew,

Many thanks for an amazing night at the Sunderland Empire, first time I have seen one of your live shows and I am still amazed!

It was made even more memerable as I was lucky enough to partake in one of the acts, where I ***SPOILER REMOVED***. Superb!

I originally booked the tickets as a suprise for my girlfriend as she is a huge fan and she had shown me some of your shows on TV (which caught my attention) but I believe we both left with equal amazement and you now have yet another huge fan!

Keep up the good work and we’ll definatly see you when your next up here,

Regards,

Chris & Kim


June 21, 2010 at 10:51 pm
louise says:

Oh Derren you never fail to make me laugh, sounds like you have had some pretty dramatic times since the Lowry! Have been waiting for a blog post for a while, should do more! No wonder you are such a successful writer!

Hope you are well and that someone dosent attempt suicide in the next show!

Love Louise x


June 21, 2010 at 10:55 pm
Becki says:

Thank you for such a lovely review of our theatre πŸ™‚

We all loved the two weeks you spent here this year, and I fear we’ll all be talking about how lovely you and your crew are for the foreseeable future.

Hopefully we’ll see you back here at the Alex next year, and I’ll actually make it to the pub this time…

Hope you enjoy the last week of your tour!

Becki

P.S. Stu is beside himself that he got a mention!


June 21, 2010 at 11:16 pm
Michael says:

Was at Sunderland show and saw the lunatic climbing about. However, I didn’t realise he was dangling for a while.
That explains the genuine concern in your voice!
Great show. Trying to figure out how you did that stuff is going to make my head hurt for weeks to come!


June 21, 2010 at 11:31 pm
Diane Brown says:

All sad that the show will be coming to an end soon………..All good things i suppose! xxxxx
:/


June 22, 2010 at 12:20 am
Faye says:

Me and my friend Ashley were at the show in sunderland on sunday night and it was amazing. Admittedly it was me who’d wanted to come
see you and had dragged Ashley along but within 15 minutes into it you had him loving the show as much as I was. A new fan to add to your list of many thousands xx


June 22, 2010 at 1:03 am
roz says:

obviously you had one of those crazy soccer hooligans in the balcony! jeez louise…death at derren’s…


June 22, 2010 at 2:27 am
Steve says:

Thanks for meeting and greeting us at the Derngate tonight. I can count on one hand the number of performers and the like that I would be bothered about seeing and you are one of them. I can guarantee my signed programme is not destined for eBay. It was a unique and intriguing show, very enjoyable.


June 22, 2010 at 6:28 am
Nicola says:

Hi Derren,

I was at the Sunderland show with my children and brother. It was his birthday present!

We had the best night ever!! It was brilliant, and we’ve analyzed it for 2 days so far as to how you did it!! Still no conclusions!!!

Thank you for coming to Sunderland, we are often forgotten with these things and I hope we made you welcome!!

Looking forward to your next visit!!!!!!!!!

Nicola

XXXXX


June 22, 2010 at 7:15 am

Thank you again Derren for such another wonderfully insightful blog post. I never tire of reading all what happens in your world! πŸ™‚
And thank you as well for taking the time for blogging during this tour.

Take care

LC x


June 22, 2010 at 7:51 am
Dale says:

Hi Derren,

Hope you had a good stay at the hotel last night, and that all your needs were met without any problems. Safe trip later, and best regards to you and your team as you were all a pleasure to meet.

Dale, Nights Team
πŸ˜‰


June 22, 2010 at 9:40 am
Ali says:

Derren,

Was at the show last night in Northampton, blew me and my group of friends away. Truly impressive stuff – have been an avid viewer on television for a long time and was so happy you bring the same atmosphere into the stage show.

And point to note, you didn’t look like an arse knocking over a table, it bought realism to an evening of showmanship. That is what elevates you into the realms of the great.

Thank you,

Ali


June 22, 2010 at 10:06 am
Chris Lazenby says:

Oops, appologies for the ‘spolier’ there, not being careful enough.

Regards,

Chris


June 22, 2010 at 11:38 am
Maria Richardson says:

My sister and I were lucky enough to sit on the front row of the stalls on Sunday at Sunderland. It was the second time we’d seen the show as we came when you were there in April. It was absolutely amazing to witness everything so close up. We were really hoping that we might get picked to come on stage with you since we were so close, although I’m not sure we would have been prepared to scale the lighting rig to do so! I really thought he was going to fall – scary!
Thank you so much for letting us have a picture with you at the stage door after the show. We really appreciated it. It meant a lot to us since we had had a terrible journey up to Sunderland from North Yorkshire and only just made it to the theatre on time, so thank you.
Really looking forward to your new book & series.


June 22, 2010 at 11:40 am
Maria Richardson says:

P.S. Will there be a DVD of the Enigma show and if so, when might it be released? Thanks.

Msg from Abeo: As soon as we have any news we will post it on the blog


June 22, 2010 at 11:56 am
nick says:

‘Spotlight opera tot’ ? What is that: a typo intending to be ‘operator’, or does Derren demand that light engineers have experience in operatic and be dressed in sexy outfits?


June 22, 2010 at 12:54 pm
Heather Mendonca says:

We are generally a very polite and muted bunch in Northampton. I bought my kids aged 13 and 17 for the first time, and they were blown away by the show, buzzing all the way home trying to work out how things are done. They also loved the fact you knocked something over on stage! I had to convince the youngest to come back in for the second half – he was quite worried, and did find it a very unnerving experience, but was glad he did as the end of the show really amazed us all!


June 22, 2010 at 1:06 pm
Maisie says:

HI me again just wanted to ask:- WHEN is enigma gonna be on the tele box??? love maisie πŸ˜€

Msg from Abeo: As soon as we have any news we will post it on the blog


June 22, 2010 at 6:23 pm
Nicki says:

Hi Derren

The show on Thursday was amazing, and it was great to meet you at Island. I was gutted I couldn’t come out with you, Simon, Jonas etc but I’m afraid I’m one of “those people” with a 9-5 lol. Can’t wait for next year and by then i’ll be married to Nick (the Deputy Chief LX). See you soon. Say hi to Jenny for me!

Nicki


June 22, 2010 at 6:58 pm
karen says:

We thoroughly enjoyed your show in Sunderland! Totally amazing! I can’t stop thinking about it! Thanks also for beng so patient when my camera phone wouldn’t work after the show! I really appreciated that!


June 22, 2010 at 10:46 pm

We saw Derren at the alex last thursday. What a great show! This is the first time I have seen Derren live and hopefully not the last. I booked tickets nearly a year ago and it was well worth the wait. My only disappointment was that the frisbee didn’t land in my direction.

Both my wife and I had an enjoyable night and have been considering going to the show again.


June 23, 2010 at 4:16 pm
Vicky says:

We are a bit dull in Northampton, sorry!

I agree you didnt look like an arse and in fact my Mum is convinced you did it on purpose to distract us and Im sure she isnt the only one, LOL! You always appear very at ease and natural when talking to the audience.

3rd time Ive seen you live and I am always blown away πŸ™‚


June 23, 2010 at 7:09 pm
Ross says:

Was there on Monday night and I have to say that it was a fantastic show, absolute genius. You did look a bit of an arse knocking over the prop and also a certain picture showed up slighty early but even with the hitches it was unbelievable. No idea how you do it, brilliant show.


June 24, 2010 at 4:09 am
Lynda says:

I was at the Sunderland show on Sunday and I had the best night IÒ€ℒve had in a VERY long time, even though I was sitting right near to the stairs and everytime, someone came on or off stage I had to move, it was funny playing a yo-yo all night.

I came alone because either the people I know don’t know you or are of the same opinion of my know it all 22 year old son and that isn’t worth writing about

I didn’t have clue what to expect, but came out so confused, from the very start the show begins with one thing and then it all comes together for really great finale. I understand how it is all done with subliminal messages and mentalism but I am still confused.

The bit that was special to me was having my ticket signed, Along with saliva. I shook your hand and gave you a kiss.


June 24, 2010 at 10:01 pm
sam says:

Hi, I watched the Tuesdy night Alexandra show. You may have found it flat but I thought it was fantastic. I confess I find you a little scary so was quite content to stay firmly in my seat marvelling at your genius from a safe distance. My plans went awry somewhat in the second half and I ended up on stage though. Had a brilliant time and enjoyed myself immensley. Will definitely see you again if you return to Brum as the show was excellent! Thanks for the sweets.


June 25, 2010 at 9:31 pm
Allan says:

Me, Paula, Michelle and Luca came to the show at the Alex on Saturday night and had an amazing time, loved the tv shows but the live show was so much better!!

And easily the best Stewie I have ever heard Derren!!


July 30, 2010 at 8:11 pm
iHeartDerren says:

Went to the Birmingham one – F-A-N-T-A-S-T-I-C!!! LOVELOVELOVEIDIT!!! πŸ˜€