Last week I was lucky to be invited for a tour around the backstage of my local theatre, the Theatre Royal Plymouth. I’ve visited the venue several times over the years since living in Plymouth with the last show I saw being the spectacular stage production of Wicked earlier this year with my daughter.
Entering through the stage door, I was greeted before being shown through to the wings of the stage and seeing the lights come on and the safety curtain lifted. This enabled me to walk on and take centre stage looking out into the auditorium, somewhere I never, ever envisaged me being privileged enough to stand. Fortunately the seats were empty, as I certainly do not confess to owning the amazing acting and singing skills like those that the cast of Shrek have, having experienced some fantastic rehearsals from them a bit later in the day.
With Shrek currently touring the UK, their current run is here in Plymouth, so we were fortunate to see the stage set up with all their backdrops, props and wardrobes. Firstly we went upstairs backstage to where the numerous backdrops hang and are operated using a counterweight fly system, using many ropes to pull each one in to place. It was fascinating to see the technical side of the theatre and gain some knowledge of how productions comes together.
We also walked through the main wardrobe area backstage which consisted of rails and rails of costumes, many more than I envisaged. Within the show of Shrek, each person plays many characters, and each have understudies, so each person has their own costume for every part they play. There were also make up stations, wigs hanging up and props galore!
We finished the day by taking a front row seat and watching the Shrek cast rehearse which was both enjoyable and interesting. It’s amazing watching the technicians pushing the various stage props in and out of the wings as well as the various cast members change parts, coming on and off stage as different characters. As they weren’t changing costumes for the rehearsals, I could easily tell the same people, whereas in a live show, you probably don’t realise how few cast there are playing all of the parts!
Backstage in the theatre is a maze of corridors that go round and round, up and down, through one door, out the other and to be honest, I didn’t have a clue where I was most of the time but one room I did spot that we got a peek in was The Green Room. Not anywhere near as exciting as you might imagine but I can now say I’ve been in “The Green Room”. Unfortunately there were no exciting guests or actors in there at the time as it was during the day, but hey, I’ve been in there!
Well I think that just about sums up my exciting day in the Theatre Royal Plymouth, obviously we couldn’t photograph everything and it was pretty dark inside. Meeting the Shrek cast was really interesting and has definitely inspired me to get to the theatre more either with or without the children (I do need a break from them sometimes!!).
Keep your eyes peeled for more exciting collaborations with the Theatre Royal Plymouth in the future!