Day Two of rehearsals is kind of where the pleasantries end and you get down to business.
We had another short five hour day, but we do already have a fully blocked show and we've sung through most of the songs. You work really fast in Panto Land! We even had a 40 minute lunch break today: we're basically slackers.
The speed of the day was helped by the sugar rush we got from cupcakes Lucy's mum brought in for us. These were a great start to the day for two reasons: 1) They're delicious. 2) It lead to Jaz telling us that his wife is an avid baker and therefore any chance of losing weight during panto may as well be forgotten about! Positive vibes all round and it wasn't even 10am!
Weirdly, that wasn't the first time today that Jaz had to think about baking! Ant and I also had to teach him the cooking routine, which is a panto gag staple! A lot of routines and gags are the same every year and if you do enough pantomimes you get to know them and rarely need to refer to the script. In fact, it is common practice to just write "Cooking scene here," "Ghost Gag," or sometimes just "routine" and leave the performers to sort it out among themselves.
Ant and I have done the kitchen routine lots and lots of times in panto and in our own Payne and Pearce shows. We have our way of doing it and we know what works. And can you imagine how difficult it is to teach it to somebody else? For a start, I can only remember it by performing it, which is a nightmare: it took ages! And when you're used to doing it as two, it's hard to remember how you did it with three... but we have worked it out and with some daily repetition Jaz will forget that he was ever worried he didn't know what was going on!
Also in the second half is the ghost gag - you know: the "he's behind you" bit. Ant and I can basically do this in our sleep (and over Christmas I often do!). We must have performed this gag near on 500 times and I will admit: the joy is wearing a little bit thin for me! BUT children (and an ex's Nan!) absolutely love it! It's hard to remember at 10.30am in a cold council chamber why you're doing it - but 10.30am in a theatre full of screaming kids and you'll remember!
Whilst I may be getting a little bored of our version, Jamie Wilson, the director, has taught it to us over the years so that it is incredibly precise. I'm always surprised when I see another pantomime and they have obviously only spent five minutes rehearsing the routine. The audience may know precisely what is going to happen - but that's no excuse for laziness! If someone could remind me of that on show 46 I'd be really grateful!.
As a company it's nice to be getting to know people more as we all relax and start to chat about stuff that isn't just the show. Hopefully there'll soon be funny stories to share...!