The reunion dinner on Sunday was great, and it was fantastic to see everyone again. I’ve been in subsequent shows with a lot of the cast, but some I have barely spoken to in eight months. The reminiscing made me even more excited at the prospect of going back to the Minack Theatre this year, so it was fortunate that Monday’s email from the director of ‘Iolanthe’ brought good news. Just a chorus part this time, but it was already clear from the recall I wasn’t up for anything more. Frankly, the size of the role is unrelated to the amount of fun to be had, and the opportunity to go back to the Minack this September is a real privilege. My birthday falls on the 5th, in the middle of the rehearsal period, and last year was one of my best birthday’s ever. It started the night before, getting hilariously drunk, continued with an afternoon on the beach, and then culminated in a camp-fire on rocks next to the sea. An added bonus was the rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’ I received. Putting the cast of an operetta round a cake is liable to result in eight-part harmony. I’d never heard anything quite like it.
Being content to play minor roles is something I’ve had to get used to since starting university, though I was obviously expecting that to be the case. Landing roles in school shows was all too easy most of the time, and those days are very much gone. Exactly as with academic pursuits, coming to Cambridge makes the majority realise how very unremarkable we really are, and I’m under no illusions about my dramatic abilities. I’ve become a solid chorus member for musicals, even developing a modicum of dancing, and have done some straight acting, but only once anything you would call a ‘lead role’. My strongest suit is definitely my singing, and that has helped me land some solo stuff in G&S operettas, one of which was ‘Utopia Unlimited’ at the Minack last year. For the most part, however, I’ve been bobbing along in the background, performing the occasional half-arsed dance move whilst singing harmony lines, and enjoying every minute of it.
That isn’t to say I’m not disappointed when I miss out on larger roles, and this time in particular I would have loved some solo singing, but I’ve formed very firm views about where my priorities lie. Aside from the central tenet to enjoy myself, my priority is to take part in high quality productions. Obviously I am keen to play as large a role as possible, but I’d much rather be a small part of a great show than a huge part of a poor show. I know people who’ve gone off into smaller productions in pursuit of star billing, which I guess is fine in itself, but it’s often accompanied by outraged conviction that they deserve any part they want. I realise I’m getting pretty puritanical about this, up on my high-horse condemning everyone within striking distance, but it is a pet hate of mine. I’d rather have the chance to play ‘Chorus Man No. 5’ at the Cambridge Arts Theatre than the lead in some college show of dubious merit. Perhaps I wouldn’t be offered such roles even if I tried for them, but I’m quite happy as I am.
Wow, that developed into something of a rant, but it’s something that really gets me riled. Of course, even I am susceptible to the occasional bout of self-delusion, and this time I can massage my ego with the fact that the only tenor role available went to someone totally different to myself. Can’t help it if I don’t fit the directors vision, now can I?!
Too summarise this post, I am REALLY looking forward to going back to the Minack this year! Whooo!