Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Annie Get Your Gun - Tech Day 2 - Wigs and Wardrobe and Westerns, Oh My!

It's Tech Day 2. Time for the actors to get themselves in the way again and for us to partake in my favourite part of any rehearsal process - the Sitzprobe! The Sitzprobe is basically where the cast and band get to perform together for the first time. It''s very informal, generally held somewhere front of house as the stage area is busy being worked on. We're in the bar/foyer area in the main front of house area and Greg, our lovely sound designer, has been very busy setting up all his equipment so that we're all nicely miked up.

The company take their places around the six microphones and I happily settle in to
listen to the full version of 'There's No Business Like Showbusiness' for the first time. The sound is epic. Lush and full and thoroughly glorious. The area we're in has glass entrance doors onto the Main Street outside and passers by frequently stop and peer in through the chinks in the curtains to see where the music is coming from. It's utterly joyous.

The company and band perform 'Who Do You Love?'
at the Sitzprobe

We work slowly through the show, checking corners and going over each piece twice. The band are sounding incredible and you would never guess that they only met each other for the first time yesterday. Our two young actors playing Little Jake for Manchester, Monty and George, sit open-mouthed for much of the session but then, frankly, so do half the cast! It's all coming together slowly but surely.

Sitzprobe over we return to our dressing rooms. I began setting mine up this morning but it's still very much a work in progress. All our personal essentials are packed into a small plastic box that will travel on the truck from venue to venue, and as I packed this up in London before heading out, I go and retrieve it from outside the Company Office. After figuring out where everything needs to live and laying out my make up kit in an obsessively neat fashion - better not to ask - I trip down to stage door where some of my many parcels are waiting for me. Apologetically I head back upstairs, tearing into my box of first night cards and new moisturiser with glee. There's also an unexpected card in there which turns out to be from @AGYGFans. My first good luck card of the season. I stick it proudly to the spare mirror in my room. It will be part of my dressing room kit box from now on in.

My first good luck card of the season!

Hanging in the corner are some of my costumes and several pairs of show shoes. Later today I have wig and costume fittings so most of the other items are still in wardrobe. My first outfit however is hanging there and looking decidedly more 'Annie' than when I first tried it on! It's been broken down. This means that the fabric and structure has been roughed up to make it look lived in, and in Annie's case VERY lived in! It's quite a remarkable transformation and you can tell that wardrobe have been hard at work.

After a brief bit of interviewing for ITV in the main auditorium, to the background strains of hammering and drilling onstage, I go to the Wig Room to meet Sally, Wig Supervisor, and Anna, Head of Wigs, for a fitting. Anna pincurls my hair up and slips on a stocking cap, then we fix the tester microphone packs to my head. There are two packs, two cables and two mics to attach - this is so that sound always have a back up to use in case one breaks mid-scene. The weight isn't much as we're using pretty tiny packs, but it certainly begins to feel it when you wear them on your head for a long time.

My bug-like microphone antennae!

We try on both wigs and play around with style options before designer Paul joins us to have a look. The current consensus is that we should have two wigs for Annie so that we can create a multitude of looks without Anna having to constantly do and redo my hair mid-show. Hopefully this will mean we can transform Annie as she changes throughout the show without too much difficulty. In truth only tech will tell if this is feasible!

Released from the bug-like microphone antennae I am whisked away to wardrobe to try on some shirt options for the top of Act 2, plus the most astonishing coat I have ever seen in my life. My greedy little eyes are already hoping that one day I can make it my own. It is beyond beautiful. Several shirt options later Paul and Karen pin down the one they like and then make some adjustments to the other items I'm wearing. My chemise has markings attached so that we can attach some pants to the bottom of it. This will hold it down, which will be paeticularly helpful given that it's under my corset. The corset itself has also had some work as Katie, Wardrobe Mistress, has added in some small bust shelves for me, little pouches that basically work like an underwire and add extra support to the corset, and me!

Next we try on the trapeze costume. This beautiful outfit is one of my favourites so far, although it's still a work in progress. The final harness won't arrive until tomorrow and we can't fully fit it without the harness being on me. So far though it is looking incredible and I flounce around the room like a five year old playing dress up until Karen reminds me that they still need to fit the band members. As our band are onstage for the entire show they also need costumes so the wardrobe team certainly have their work cut out this week. I slip out of the trapeze joy and fold my bloomers up, ready for tomorrow's tech call. My only fear with this outfit, which will look astonishing once it's finished off with a leg holster and gun, is that I might not stay inside the corset whilst trapez-ing. I wonder if that's why my first call on the trapeze tomorrow is without the rest of the company?

For the rest of the evening session we sound check onstage. Steve selects various numbers and we sing them through, roughly walking through the blocking and choreography. This time we are using the show microphones which have a very different sound quality to the stand mics we used for Sitzprobe. Greg and Alex, Head of Sound, play around with the balances and feeds from the auditorium, occasionally walking around the stage with us as we mention various places where it feels loud or lacking. I find sound checks a little hard at first as my hearing isn't very good in one ear, so getting a good balance for me in foldback (the music that we hear onstage) can be tricky. Luckily though Greg is an absolute genius with sound design and I have nothing to worry about at all.

To round off the day we don our blue t-shirts once more and are filmed doing the new finale version of 'Showbusiness' for various TV networks. It's been a long day and tomorrow will be even longer. Kristi gives out the call for 9:15am into wigs and costume. We should be onstage for 10am but often that first time getting everything on everyone can be a time consuming process. I'll also be trying to perfect my Act 1 make up ready for the start of the tech session. I resolve to come in as early as possible, a fairly normal occurrence for me, particularly during tech. I check in with Stage Door Keeper Terry on the way out as to whether this will be possible. He smiles and nods, gruffly adding, "Course love. No-one else'll be daft enough to be here that early, but the cleaner's'll let you in." No business like showbusiness, folks.


  1. I've loved reading your rehearsal posts Emma :) It's been lovely to imagine what's going on, so thank you for writing them (I'm the proud owner of a cast member and I'm afraid no-one ever had better use for the term 'vicarious living' than me.... whoops!) The show sounds amazing and I'm so excited for Friday. I hope you all have as much fun as we in the audience are guaranteed- love to you all xx

  2. Glad you liked the card!! :) Just wanted to wish you luck for the opening night ...hopefully it will act as a good luck charm for you at each venue xx