The Beautiful Backstage
A few days ago I trotted along with my pals Sally and Chris to watch the musical 'Beautiful' at the Aldwych Theatre. If you're not familiar with the show, it's the huge hit that is based on the life and music of Carol King. I have to admit I didn't know a great deal about Carol King but I knew she had written a few well known songs before she achieved success as a singer in her own right. A few. Turns out she has written a huge incredible, brilliant, beautiful pile of songs that we have all been singing along to for years! Like this one for example.....
....plus 'Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow' for The Shirelles, 'It Might As Well Rain Until September' for Bobby Vee, 'I Feel The Earth Move' which was a huge hit for Martika in the 80's and even 'The Loco-motion' for Little Eva, her babysitter.
Watching this show and digesting it's brilliance and Carol King's story, got me really thinking about people behind the scenes and how nothing, and I mean nothing, would happen without them. The writers, the editors, the producers, the production assistants, co-ordinators, sound designers, stage crew, costume department - the list is endless for film, TV, theatre, events, awards ceremonies, corporate events and on and on and on.
Recently someone said to me that they didn't understand why the people of Portsmouth had to pay to go to the annual Victorious festival when it was in their own town on public land. I tried to explain that the cost of this festival was huge (it's a music festival). There are artist costs, crew costs, production costs, Venue Hire (yes even a piece of land will have to be paid for!), insurance and more! I tried to explain that the ticket price pays for the festival. Of course they will make a bit of a profit otherwise they couldn't continue to do it but on the whole that festival probably costs many hundreds of thousands of pounds to produce. He didn't believe me.
I often feel that people, and yes I'm probably talking about the general public, don't really
realise the amount of work that goes into making a show, whether it be West End marvel or a local community project.
As a Venue Manager and Producer, and having spent time of both sides of the camera, so to speak, I have watched technicians throw themselves into work to the point of exhaustion to make sure a show is the best it can be or a venue opens on time. I have watched lighting designers spend hours making sure one cue is perfect and the angle of the light illuminates the desired object perfectly. These people, who you never see when you visit the theatre or watch the TV, are what makes the show work. They are there hours before the show starts and hours after it finishes, especially the wardrobe department who spend a long time washing all the costumes after the show ready for the next day. They are the real perfectionists and they are the ones who turn a good show into a great show.
And in fact what makes an incredible show is when the partnership of the production team,
stage crew, creatives, actors and a good script come together. When they all work as one towards the same goal; to give the audience the best show they possible can. So if you wonder why you are paying that ticket price, just take a moment and remember all these people that are working tirelessly and that what you are watching on stage or at the cinema or on TV, is a great big passionate ball of love, talent, insane hard work and hundreds of thousands of pounds, if not millions, of production costs...and it has to be paid for.
And if you are an actor and want to get along with a technician? Show up on time, find your light and give them bourbon biscuits. Best friends for life.