Song and Dance

It’s a funny place, the Royal Northern College of Music. When I arrived yesterday, Natalie Imbruglia was noodling away in the room next door to me, warming up for a concert. She didn’t sing Torn, but it was nice to hear her familiar voice so close. I resisted going in to talk to her. I figured she’d come to me in time, but perhaps she didn’t know I was there. Oh well. Next time.

Today has been a long day of very little. We’ve met all the youth cast and immediately thrown the schedule out the window because the biggest hitch is integrating them into the musical numbers that I’m not involved in. We are in a little room upstairs with no sunlight. Everyone is going a little mad. And it’s even madder downstairs.

The college is hosting the International Theatre Dance Awards. What this means is that every inch of the cafe and foyer is thronged with a rainbow of leotards. Filling these colourful stretchy garments are enough muscular young women to efficiently lay siege to London. With their hair pulled back to the point of blood, they stretch and spin and plié barefoot surrounded by people trying to drink coffee and phone their brother. They all have numbers on their shirts, and proud aunties photograph them in front of the statue of Chopin, branded bits of wall, mum and dad. They eyeball each other as they pose for camera. “I’ll beat those fuckers,” they seem to be projecting through all that make-up.

At one point, curious, I ask one of the parents “Is this for women only, or are there men dancing too?” “Oh there’s a man in the one that’s on now,” she responds. I see no evidence to support her claim. Maybe it’s just the one.

I take refuge upstairs and the director catches on that I’m twiddling my thumbs. He gives me a few hours off. I jump on the bike and zip over to catch Nathan. We lived together for a few years. For a period we were inseparable. My sister in law thought we were a couple. We sometimes fought as if we were.  Now he’s up here, father of two girls, sounding like a northerner even though he’s from Weston Super-Mare. We go to Brewdog and I nurse a “Nanny State” for the placebo effect. 17 days into Sexy February and I still miss beer. It’s great that I’ve got this bike, because my desire not to die outweighs my lust for blunter edges. But it’s great to see Nathan. Hopefully I’ll catch him again before I go.

Now I’m back in rehearsal, available and unused. It makes a difference, playing a small part. Scrooge is on the whole time. You don’t notice the time passing as you’re just working. Schrank comes on in bursts, so I’m glad it’s only a short run. The advantage is that I can take strong choices vocally and physically and not end up utterly exhausted after the show.

The young company are great. Willing and positive. Fun, and energetically very different from the dancers downstairs. I’d much sooner wait around all day in this atmosphere than the dancer atmosphere.

They’re singing “Tonight”. I’m going to try and find something to take a photograph of that isn’t the company.

Yep. A room full of instruments.


Nobody in it though. It’s 9pm. We are the only idiots that haven’t gone home. Us and one pianist who I can hear just round the corner playing something extremely complicated with great feeling. All of this reminds me very strongly of being that drama student at Guildhall all of – what -15 years ago and more? Time. You fucker. You absolute fucker.

Author: albarclay

This blog is a work of creative writing. Do not mistake it for truth. All opinions are mine and not that of my numerous employers.

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