Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Cheer your afternoon with a macaroon

The older you get, the harder it is to learn lines. That's a fact which is proving all too true as I get to grips with the part of Mrs Overall in Spalding Amateur Dramatic and Operatic Society's production of Acorn Antiques, The Musical. It's bad enough knowing I have to fill the shoes of the gloriously funny Julie Walters, aware the audience have a clear picture in their head of the character and how she should be played. I also have to make sure I spend at least some part of every day looking at my lines so that they hopefully become second nature by May.

I decided early on, having been given this role, to avoid fiddling about with it. So I am watching the DVD of the musical and blatantly mimicking JW; her voice, actions and comic timing. I have looked carefully at her stoop and realised it comes as much from the knees as from the back so have adjusted my stance accordingly. Her arms dangle a lot, her shoulders are hunched. She doesn't always speak in a Birmingham accent: it rises and falls, it drifts into 'posh speak' at times, she squeaks at some parts and is quite gruff in others. I keep saying the lines over and over, trying to get them just right. I'm even wandering around the kitchen at home with an old woman's gait. Daniel Day-Lewis has nothing on me.

What does help is the fact that the script, written by Victoria Wood, is stuffed full of very funny lines. I have a fair few of them and, if they are said with the right cadence, at just the right time, then I should have a chance of doing them justice. There are gems such as:

"I was giving the postman a mouthful of something tasty by the scullery door, and he filled me in very thoroughly".

And, of course, it being a musical, I have to sing. Mrs Overall has one hell of a solo, 'Macaroons', which is fast-paced, long and rather rude. The gist of the number is that the world should stop using drugs, alcohol and sex to deal with stress but eat lots of cake instead: "Bit of Bakewell tart, lightens up your heart". After the intro, the song has three distinct parts, each commenting on a celebrity and their propensity to indulge in things other than carbohydrates.

This is where I need to work hard to remember the words and, as many of the lines are rhyming couplets, I have to be careful not to jump a few and miss out a whole chunk. So I've come up with a solution for my ageing brain. I'm creating a 'mind map' which is creating images in my head to match the words. Ozzy Osbourne, according to the song, is 'a stranger to the benefit of oven bottom cake'. As the next line urges him to drink milk and eat muffins, I have created a picture of the man ensconced in a comfy chair eating said cake and then moving onto the muffins and milk.

It gets more complicated with a line which for some reason I keep forgetting: 'Take fellatio, cut the ratio'. The line before it is 'You could catch a chill in a trice'. I have discovered the best way of remembering the fellatio line is to imagine, while I'm singing about the chill, someone donning a hat, scarf and gloves in order to perform the sexual act. It's quite a vivid image.

Our musical director has been very helpful to me with my song, going through the sheet music and pointing out the symbol called a 'fermata' which indicates a pause when I sing without accompaniment so I can take a breath and the band will wait until I'm ready to go again. He uses the word 'vamp' to explain this - the band will vamp apparently until I remember the next verse. They could be vamping indefinitely.


As you can imagine, the show is an absolute joy to do. We have a great team; director, MD, producer, choreographer and all the backstage crew are making the rehearsal process a real pleasure. The cast are having such a laugh, especially as everyone has such cracking lines. One of the main characters, Miss Babs, has some corkers so let me leave you with this one, said in a wonderfully plummy voice (just like Celia Imrie, who played the role originally) as she picks up the phone in the antique shop:

'Acorn Antiques, how may I help you?........Clarice Cliff? She's not in, I'm afraid.'




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26 comments:

  1. What a great technique for keeping it all in order - although the winter fellatio image was a hilarious mental picture!
    Am reminded of a t-shirt that I and a number of other musical geeks used to have: "Hold me - I'm a fermata."

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    1. I like your use of the term 'winter fellatio'. I'm now imagining what a summer fellatio outfit might consist of....a rubber ring and some flippers?

      I think I might have to have some T-shirts made, or maybe just one for our MD as he's probably the only member of the group who knows what it means!

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    2. Haahaha....and sunglasses, I'm sure!
      You can find the t-shirts (saving yourself the trouble of making them) at zazzle.com - just google the saying and it'll be the first result (trying to word this carefully so I don't get banished to the trash by your spam filter...)
      Our other favorite: "Without music, life would B (flat sign)"

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    3. Have found the website. Thanks so much for that x

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  2. Gosh, I never realised there was such a thing in a script as a fermata. Useful to know as the opportunity to nip out and buy a choc ice before the interval rush.

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    1. I shall keep an eye out for when you leave your seat and tell the band to keep vamping until you return. If you could do so in the middle of my song that would be even better as I might be able to have a sit down.

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    2. Would you like me to fetch you a choc ice too then?

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  3. Les Mis???They ain't seen nothing yet. Bet you'd give Anne Hathaway a run for her money at the Oscars! Although I used to think fellatio was an Italian Film Director, til I tasted Smirnoff!!

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    1. I'd probably give Anne Hathaway a run for her money in the 'looking unattractive in a production' stakes!

      Snorting at your Smirnoff joke!

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  4. That is probably a snippet of imagery I really didn't need to have in my mind though!!! God speed it out again. But if your memory continues to fail you perhaps you'll just have to move into practicals, Doug's luck is in ;)

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    1. Heavens, he'll think it's his birthday!

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  5. I could never...! Never. you couldn't pay me enough... to even try...WEll done you Trish

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    1. I don't know why I do it either, Macy.

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  6. Brilliant... Love how you remember your lines! Wish I was closer, would love to come and watch the play :)

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    1. Ah never mind, I'll try and get some video maybe nearer the time.

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  7. Very impressed! I would be panic stricken at the prospect of learning all those lines. Sounds like you'll do fine though. Keep those images a-comin'! :)

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    1. It does panic me, Sarah, so I have to keep going over them, although even when you think you know them, you can always go blank. Thankfully, with it being a comedy about a production which has errors and missed cues, I hope if things do go wrong, the audience won't realise.

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  8. So many great lines! Hard work, but fun! Video please? ;o) xx

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    1. Nearer the time I might video it but it really needs the full costume to do it justice :-)

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  9. I did shows and pantos till I was about 18 (dance school) and I still have bad dreams where I'm in the wings, about to go on and not remembering my lines and dances. Brings me out in a cold sweat even now...

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    1. Oh I wouldn't like that. Thankfully I don't dream about it much. I think about it a lot during the day though.

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  10. Great to find your blog - I was intrigued by the title! You made me think I should have called mine Mum's Gone Bonkers as kids graduate! Drawn closer also by the fact you live in S Lincs too! Enjoying your writing and look forward to reading more! BWs

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    1. Thank you so much for visiting and commenting, Ross. I'm always surprised when people find me, and wonder how they got here. I worry the title of my blog may soon be out of date as my son is nearly 17 but hopefully the lure of a holiday will keep him with us for a couple of years.

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  11. Blimey! Hat, scarf, gloves and erm....it's a whole new world inside your head, Trish!

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    1. I had to share it with you. Can't keep these weird images to myself...

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