Big chunks of the past four months have been a whirlwind of rehearsals, production meetings and stress. The reason? A local am-dram production of the musical Me and My Girl, which I co-directed. In a moment of madness I got cast in the lead, meaning I also had lines to learn, blocking to memorise, songs to sing, dances to dance, even a few moments of tap. It all culminated last week with five performances in a sweltering theatre during the hottest days of 2008 thus far.
On the plus side, I lost two kilos in weight thanks to sweat and stress. And the show was great, a production of which I'm truly proud. During rehearsals it felt like everything that could go wrong did go wrong, yet the cast and crew somehow pulled together to create a joyous five nights of musical theatre. The principles and chorus played a blinder, while all those behind the scenes performed miracles to create a seamless show that entranced and entertained.
Given the choice, I'll never again cast myself in the lead of any show I'm directing. I found it tough enough directing, keeping all the plates spinning. Fortunately our local am-dram group has a plethora of talented people to whom key tasks can be delegated - costumes, choreography, set construction and painting, props, lighting, music, singing. But playing the lead gets in the way of directing, and directing gets in the way of acting - at least it does for me.
Now it's recovery time. The build-up to any show becomes an all-consuming monster, but a musical triples that pressure thanks to the need for acting, singing and dancing. Once the show's over and the stage has been cleared, I tend to collapse for a week after, drained of all energy. I was proofing the manuscript for my 19th novel yesterday and fell asleep twice while sitting up. Nothing wrong with the book, it's a blood-strewn page-turner, just utter exhaustion.
Performed my last post-show ritual yesterday: shaving my head. Most shows require me to grow comedy facial hair, or abandon my close-cropped number one look for something less confrontational. So it was for Me and My Girl, five months of unfettered growth until my hair was the longest it's been for many years. Well, that's all gone now. Think I'll sprout a goatee instead, just for fun. In the meantime, I've no shortage of work to catch up with. Onwards.