Smile Through It II: The Next Chapter

Chasing dreams, because I can

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Double shifts and missing leads

Posted by Oli on Wednesday 15th October, 2008

Today’s been a bit of an epic day, but quite good, too.  As well as being massively frustrating and trying.  A mix of everything, then, I guess.

It all began at 6am this morning, rolling out of bed to run K down to the train to set her off for her day at uni, followed by a quick (way too quick) nap back at home before wrenching myself from the covers a second time to head down to the station myself and get down to London for a photoshoot for an article being written about Emily and I.  It was actually the quickest and easiest photoshoot I think I’ve ever done, which was nice.  We were in and out in 15 minutes and on our way again.

On the way back home I managed to buy lunch before rushing for the train, which then left 15 minutes late and I realised I’d left the drink I bought in Smiths, meaning I couldn’t eat any of my lunch on the train as I had nothing to take my creon with.  Brilliant.

Getting back to MK fifteen minutes before I was due to start work, I then had to rush home and change before racing across town to the Theatre to work a double shift on the bars for the matinee and evening performances of Carousel.

I arrived on the bars upstairs to discover that all hell had broken loose after the production company belated informed us that Leslie Garrett would not be performing today and they had decided (under considerable pressure from an unimpressed star who was shocked to hear that they’d not been honest with the audience beforehand) that all the customers would get a free cup of coffee and slice of cake for the matinee and a free drink of their choice for the evening performance.

Wednesday matinees are affectionately known in the business as “Grey Days” after the fairly narrow demographic of the audience who were considerably unimpressed with the change in the cast and weren’t afraid to voice their displeasure.  Combined with a terribly worded voucher they had been given from the prod co, they descended on the bars, which had no cake, only to be turned away and sent to the VIP lounge where everything had been laid out.

The problem with being on the bars in a Theatre is that, very frequently, you are the first point of contact for members of the audience, which means that any and all mistakes made by either the Theatre, the production company or anyone else involved with the show inevitably end up being your fault.  They customers latch on to the first person connected with the Theatre and feel free to let loose.  I wouldn’t mind so much if there was something we could actually do about it, or if it was a mistake that we had made, but it very, very rarely is.  Usually it’s the limits of our powers to turn around and apologise and I suppose if the customer wants to vent then we have to take it, but it’s not fun.

Luckily the evening performance went much more cheerily, mostly because the slightly younger audience were much more appreciative of the free booze and programmes they received.  In fact, the vast majority of them didn’t seem overly concerned with the cast change, which meant that for all intents and purposes, they just got a bonus free drink as part of their night out.

The problem with all of the audience being given free drink vouchers, though, is that they then like to use them.  With the house around 85-90% full, you would normally expect to serve 40-50% of those people drinks.  With free drink vouchers, you’re suddenly serving 100% of the audience drinks, plus the extras that they might wish to pay for.  It was hard work. Combined with the fact that they they had earlier in the week cut the interval down from 20 minutes to 15 because the show was running so long (3 hours in total, not including the break), so we had to cram out 40% more drinks in 25% less time than usual.

Suffice it to say that by the end of the night we all felt like we’d be consistently hit over the head with a large hammer very, very hard.  Exhausted and ready for home we were at least kindly acknowledged by the management who allowed us all a drink to take away with us – muchly appreciate by us all.

After three nights and sleeping incredibly poorly, the day did at least serve to put me back on track with decent, deep sleep, so it can’t all be bad.


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