Two big one-nighters: the Liverpool Empire and the Blackpool Opera House. Phwor. Both were lovely gigs, with great, great audiences. Thank you if you came along. I managed to break my mic in the second half in Liverpool, and had to call to the in-house crew at Blackpool to keep the conversation level down backstage, but despite these minor mishaps they were both good shows.
One fun aspect of chatting to the in-house crews is hearing the tales of ‘stars’ who have appeared there. Crews have a huge amount of power, and if they take exception to an arrogant star they can amuse themselves at the performers’ expense. I have heard tales of crew urinating in the rain machine for a production of Singin’ In The Rain. Of a spotlight operator purposefully missing a famous comedian with the light for the whole show because of a racist comment that was flung in his direction. Of a very well-known comedian defecating into the puppet of his warm-up ventriloquist, whom he loathed, who then had to do the whole act with excrement dripping down his arm. Of course I love asking about the big-name ‘psychics’ who tour, to see if there’s any gossip. In Liverpool, one very famous medium appeared and was spotted by a crew member sneaking in three old ladies through a side entrance (one seemed to be his mum)… old ladies who then played along during the show. Another, watched every night by the same crew, was seen to use the same ‘stock readings’ in every show… precisely the same stories, the same names, the same ‘details’ lazily thrown out to an audience who would make it fit their own situations every time. Doris Stokes would apparently have people come to her hotel for private readings during the day, and then invite them along to the show in the evening, where she would come out with the same information she had garnered from them during the afternoon. I thought that was particularly inspired.
Yesterday in busy, bank-holiday Blackpool I visited Carnesky’s Ghost Train, just next to the Pleasure Beach. Ooh, it’s rather good. I had been to her earlier version in London and been a little disappointed, but this is definitely worth a visit. It’s a scary, intelligent, layered, disconcerting experience. The girl in front of me was proper freaking. Everyone involved does a great job – thank you all those who were tweeting afterwards following my visit. Took me ages to find a working cash-machine, but it was well worth it.
Now some time off. Hope to start a new portrait of Rufus Wainwright. Searching for decent hi-res source material. Ta-ta.