By Monday the 12th of August it was time to say goodbye to St Mary's University in Twickenham. Although we had been busy rehearsing there for two weeks we were ready to put this incredible show to the stage, under lighting and set, in which the Stage Management team had been busy setting up the previous day.
Tuesday and Wednesday were dedicated to a technical rehearsal. This is where the stage management team and the lighting experts arrange the placement of scenery and lighting. Having lighting and scenery makes the experience so much more exciting and makes the performance side feel more real, boosting the energy of the show altogether.
As well as scenery and lighting, one of the biggest parts of each and every show is the costumes for each individual person and character. For Easy Stages this is done by Charlie Clark and Sabrina Cuniberto. West Side Story was set in the 1950's so for the girls it was 50's style dresses and for the boys it was jeans or chinos with a coloured top or shirt. As always the costumes were absolutely stunning and really complemented the action on stage. My costume really helped me get into character with two gorgeous red dresses.
As well as sorting out the technical side of the show, because we had now moved the show into a new space we had to set out all the dances onto the stage. This year, our set was designed by Juliet Shillingford, constructed by Dave Gwilliams and built by Emma Hughes and Emilie Mellor. It consisted of redbrick walls with various balconies and chain link fences and was playful, naturalistic and gave all the actors something to interact with. The ladders on the set helped bring the playful side out of the characters especially the jets and portrayed the feeling of being on the street that little bit more.
After all the technical aspects of the show had been sorted, we were able to do two dress rehearsals, one being open to Stagecoach Principals, before the opening night on Thursday 15th August. Both dress rehearsals ran smoothly and gave us only a taster of the adrenaline yet to come on Opening night.
All four shows were absolutely phenomenal! I had the time of my life doubling the role of Anita, with the amazing Gemma, alongside a life long best friend Siwan, from Bridgend and Cowbridge Stagecoach, who portrayed the most beautiful Maria, and doubled the role with Eleanor. Playing the best friend to Maria was exciting, as we have been close friends since the previous year. We sung one of the most emotionally challenging numbers together in act two, "A boy like that", but singing that song on the last night was one of the best things and the tears were completely real, something I will never forget.
The cast of West Side Story had become one massive family, we all worked hard together and that's what makes Easy Stages so special. It was hard saying goodbye, especially to those from abroad, but I know we will all stay in touch and there will be many reunions to come with the good friends I have made from all over the world.
Those who were residential would like to thank Zachary for being our 'daddy' for three weeks and the kind chaperones for looking after us throughout the day and evening. But at the end of the day this OUTSTANDING production would never have been so fantastic if it wasn't for our production team (The Dream Team); Ally, Francis, Tony, Gary, Dan, Matt, Fleur and Samantha. We have all learnt so much out of this experience and we have all come out better performers.
Annie - Stagecoach Milton Keynes Student