‘Quick, quick, out of the way, I have a fast change.’ I barraged my way through a group of my fellow actors backstage, already half out of my Edith dress as I spoke. Wriggling into my cabaret dress, I raced back to make my entrance just as the intro music began to play. No time to panic. Just follow the Director’s instructions and sing ‘more awful.’ That was the easy bit!
We were performing ‘Allo ‘Allo for the first time. After ten weeks of rehearsals we were ready. Or so we hoped. We had become a family, cast and crew alike. We had shared the challenges of this difficult production. The hard work and self doubt. Would we remember our lines? Cues? Movements? But we knew we were there for each other every step of the way. And above all we were having such fun. Laughing until we cried. Corpsing at our mistakes as we gave life to the written words on the pages of our scripts.
Sitting backstage on the evening of our first performance, nerves jangling, the Director’s final advice was simple. ‘Go out there and enjoy yourselves,’ he told us. ‘The audience will sense your enjoyment and love it all the more.’ He was right. The laughter and applause from the word go was exhilarating and lifted us to join with the audience in having the best time.
For a few days after the run of ‘Allo ‘Allo ended, many of us felt bereft and flat as if there was something missing from our lives. As indeed there was. Maybe we needed the thought of another theatrical production in late autumn?