Welcome to one of my hobbies - operating followspots in theatre.
I own an LDR Canto 1200 MSR/MSD Followspot system, purchased with the intention of hiring it out at highly competitive rates - with the added 'bonus' that I operate it for free.
I aim my service mainly at charitable and youth-based non-profit organisations e.g. amateur dramatic societies, church drama groups, dance studios, scouting groups etc. I am not doing this for the money, rather, for the enjoyment I get from helping the youngsters of today to do something creative with their leisure time - something which was sadly lacking in my own three offspring (having said that, the eldest and youngest have now helped me with a couple of shows and seem to have enjoyed the experiences). I have also 'spotted for a couple of commercial organisations too, namely the Leatherhead Theatre (formerly known as the Thorndyke Theatre) and the Lakeside Country Club in Frimley Green, Surrey.
I have a current CRB Enhanced Disclosure requested by the Scout Association and the annual South East Berkshire Gangshow (February half-term each year) is a firm fixture in my event calendar.
My hire rates are highly negotiable and carry no VAT or delivery charges. I will be delighted to discuss your requirements in detail. Living near Woking in Surrey, I am retired from any full-time employment now, and am happy to work within reasonable driving distance of home. I am available to attend dress and technical rehearsals and to 'spot during your performances.
If you are interested in availing yourself of my services, then please view my business card, where my contact details will be found.
I started this 'hobby' in 2001, when asked by my nephew, Nick Hook, to help with a local amateur dramatic society, the Community Voice for Singing, Dance and Drama (now known as Lafour Dance and Theatre Schools), based in Sandhurst, Berkshire, who were putting on that wonderful show "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" (based on the novel by C.S. Lewis) at the Bearwood Theatre, Sindlesham. Nick had been commissioned to set up the lighting & sound for the show, and needed a 'responsible adult' to fit radio microphones on the cast. He asked if 'Uncle Stu' could help out and I readily agreed to, even though I had absolutely no knowledge of theatre life and practices.
I thoroughly enjoyed all aspects of the production and was amazed at the energy and enthusiasm exhibited by all the cast and crew alike. I jumped at the opportunity when Nick asked me to help out at a dance studio's production a short while later. "The Guardian of the Treasure", by the Jayne A Coleman Academy of Dance, in April 2003 at the Bearwood Theatre, followed by a show by the Lin Carpenter School Of Dance, gave me more opportunities to help with 'get-in', to operate followspot throughout the performances, and help with the 'get-out'.
Since then, I have helped out in various roles at a number of shows - lighting, sound, stage management, scenery shifting, tabs operator etc., but my favourite task is followspot operating.
As a Scout leader, Nick introduced me to the South-East Berkshire Scout's Gang Show in February 2004, at the Wilde Theatre, Bracknell. It's the culmination of a year of planning and hard work put in by numerous volunteers. I have been asked to 'spot throughout tall the shows since 2004 and am proud to have been admitted to the Fellowship - the group for non-uniformed Scout helpers. The Gang Shows are brilliantly performed (considering that all the cast are true amateurs) and should not be missed! I've even managed to drag my son, Andy, into the shows since 2010 to operate the 2nd followspot.
I was asked to 'spot the summer 2004 production "We'll Find The Time", performed by the Breakaways Variety Club at the Broadmoor Staff Social Club, which was complete with a real Dalek! The follow-spot that they hired in was antiquated, to put it politely. It was a nightmare to operate! It was so nose-heavy - and there was no way of adjusting it. I therefore decided to invest in my own modern followspot, with the idea of hiring it out to am-dram groups at a very competitive rate, with the added bonus that I would go along as the operator at no extra charge! So thus was born "STAR FollowSpot Services".
After a lot of information gathering via the web (a wonderful way of finding out everything you need to know, without leaving the comfort of your armchair!), and a visit to the PLASA (Professional Lighting And Sound Association) show at Earls Court, I finally decided on a Canto 1200 MSR/MSD followspot from the Italian manufacturer LDR. I also purchased the LDR followspot stand and a Doughty roller-race spigot, which makes for a very smoooooth pan! A Telrad sighting aid and a lux meter for measuring the light output, completed the outfit. An SBK case to carry it all around in ensures it won't be subject to damage - although the fact that I transport it personally means that it is all treated with kid gloves anyway!
Jan 2005. The Breakaways' panto, "Cinderella", kept me busy through the middle of January, using my own followspot for the first time. The Telrad sight proved to be indispensable.
July 2005. We had a new venue for the Breakaways' summer show - the Royal British Legion in Bracknell town centre. This presented us with a number of technical challenges (!), the worst being the lack of power sockets for lighting and sound. Still, both lighting and sound crews made it through to the end - and we were invited back for the winter panto, so we can't have done too badly! I made a 2-foot high wooden platform that enables me to fire the beam over people's heads now, rather than trying to shoot it through them!
Jan 2006 - Breakaways. Well, the Wizard of Oz (at the British Legion) came and went with no major problems, and we had some decent-sized audiences, too. The platform certainly did its job well. I purchased a lighting desk, well, two actually, from eBay. I bought a hardly-used Behringer LC2412 and an old Zero88 LightMaster XLS desk from Exeter. I also located four ShowTec MultiDim dimmers at good prices, which lets us have eight parcans hung from the ceiling bar, plus a couple of lamps on the small stage.
July 2006 - Breakaways.
Jan 2007 - Breakaways.
I 'won' a Zero88 Illusion 500 desk (ex-demo, from AC Lighting) on eBay, to become more proficient with programming lighting desks, when time permits.
Jul 2007 - Breakaways.
Jan 2008 - the show got cancelled, for reasons that were never disclosed!
July 2008 - show also cancelled, although it appears that the group still meet on a Wednesday evening.
Jan 2009 - a show finally took place. No information forthcoming, but there was a definite lack of familiar faces around.
July 2009 - show took place again. Much the same as before, but a couple of the regular male singers seemed to have improved markedly.
Jan 2010 - Goodness Gracious Mia! An am-dram version of the block-buster film Mamma Mia. Sadly, the sound boys let the whole show down. Nice to get away from just song-and-dance shows - the cast had to learn lines, too.
July 2010, Feb 2011, July 2011, Feb 2012, July 2012, Feb 2013, July 2013 - shows all very much the same. The Bracknell British Legion have disbanded and vacated the hall - it's now run by "Mikey" from Gangshow.
Feb 2014 - there's to be no show.
Through my nephew, Nick, I 'spotted for the Jayne A Coleman Academy of Dance again in April 2004, and June 2005 saw me use my followspot, with two dance school shows back-to-back. The first was for the Knight School of Dance at Bearwood Theatre (with a late get-out on the Saturday night), the second for the Lin School of Dance at the Wilde Theatre (with a quick get-in on the Sunday morning - rehearsals started at 12:30 with a show in the evening!)
Nick was asked to do the whole lighting, sound and scenery production for Jayne's show in April 2006. I took a few days off work to help him with the get-in, driving a 7.5 ton truck around to move all the equipment from their storage locations into the theatre. I managed to persuade two of my children to help with the shows - Melissa to help with the radio mics and Andrew to operate the second followspot. Mel actually ended up helping with the scenery and has asked to help at the next show. Andy was absolutely brilliant as a followspot operator, taking to it like a duck to water! I hope his university course will not interfere with him helping again.
At the 2007 Gang Show, I was approached by Lin Tunbridge (ex-Lin Carpenter) and asked if I would be interested in doing lighting & sound for her dance show in June. I spoke with Chris Hook, Adam Marshall and my son, Andy, and we agreed that we could manage it between us. Chris then managed to get an old school friend, Helen, to join us - and what a star she turned out to be. She took on the role of S.M. and did a fantastic job. The whole show was a great success - we didn't have any bickering back-stage during the entire time - get-in, shows & get-out. It was a delight to have the opportunity to be responsible for the whole show - and Lin was delighted with what we did, too.
We were asked to do the 2008 show and that, too, went off without a hitch - it even included pyros and strobes. As Helen couldn't join us, we didn't use a followspot - I had my first attempt at being the S.M. Luckily, Chris's girlfriend, Jess, was around and helped me with radio mics for the second night, which made things somewhat easier for me. We've been asked back for 2009!
June 2009 - Adam helped us set up the sound on the Sunday, but unfortunately couldn't do the shows. Chris did sound, Jess was on LX, my son Andy on tabs, me as S.M again. All went smoothly, as expected. We're good as a team!
We continued to do Lin's shows each June, until she sold up and moved away after the 2011 summer show.
In August 2006, I was introduced to this theatre and looked forward very much to 'spotting the Jongleurs comedy night on Tuesday 29th August. I have to say that while some of the comedy was very good, I'm disappointed that two of the comedians found it necessary to swear just about every other word. I've never believed that swearing makes a poor act any funnier and these displays did nothing to change my mind. I had to use my own followspot, as the theatre didn't own one. I was pleased with the followspot, although I need to narrow the beam a bit to concentrate the light better - i.e. to make it brighter. Found that after two hours or so operating, I could hardly move my left arm & shoulder. I had to arrange some sort of lower handle at the rear of the Canto, so that I didn't have to have my arm up in the air all the time.
Friday 8th Sept. - Abba. Yet another tribute band. Enjoyed the music - pity about the performances. One of the girls slipped from her fake Swedish accent into her (native?) Irish one! Nobody on cans, so apart from some illegible scribbled notes from the pianist, we had to 'wing' it - but we coped OK! Have modified the rear handle of the Canto which certainly relieved the aching shoulder, and the narrower beam is noticeably brighter.
Friday 15th Sept - Went along to watch The Temperance Seven. Enjoyable '20s & '30s jazz. Very tight band, with good humour, too.
Monday 18th - I was about to purchase a second Canto followspot, as the theatre require two for a number of upcoming shows. Paul told them what the hire rates would be - and they've decided to buy their own instead!
Wednesday 20th Sept - Mad About The Musicals. Simple show, but a very nice mix of popular show numbers, with good audience interaction.
Friday 22nd Sept - PJ Proby does Johnny Cash. Well, I'd been warned that he was a temperamental old sod - and this certainly turned out to be true! The whole production was very amateurish from start to finish. The show was due to go up at 8 - the guitarists and drummer first turned up at 10 minutes to 8, then had to get their instruments set up! Needless to say, the start had to be delayed by 20 minutes and there was no time for any sound check. Paul had to re-focus the lights while the show was in progress, as the backing singer didn't seem to notice that her head was in darkness!
Presumably because neither PJP nor Johnny Cash have had sufficient hits to make a whole show out of, PJP does the first half of the show as Johnny Cash, then sings his own numbers for the second half, with a girl, Vicky (who could sing no better that a pub karaoke singer) doing six numbers first.
We were told that PJP doesn't like 'open white' in the followspot - he likes a blue or pink/red, so I put both in mine and used the blue throughout the first half of the show. No problem at all. What happened at the interval defied belief though. 'Johnny Cash' thanked the audience for coming, said 'Goodnight' and walked off stage, followed by the band members. What he meant to imply was that this was Johhny Cash saying 'Goodnight'. but that the show would continue after an interval. The impression given was that that was the end of the show, so the audience left the auditorium, wondering why the ice-cream sellers were standing at the doors! There had been no explanantion that he was coming back as PJ Proby for the second half, nor indeed, that this was just an interval. I was horrified and shot downstairs to the front door to tell people who were leaving the theatre that there was a second half. One couple continued on out, saying that they weren't coming back! The others were stunned and believed from what PJP had said, that the show was over. I eventually managed to get an announcement made over the Tannoy. Apparently, PJP does this all the time, but won't change his ways.
Anyway, the second half started and Vicky warbled her way through her half-a-dozen numbers. When PJP came on for his bit of the second half, after about the first 8 bars, he pointed up to me and told me to "get that spotlight off me". I faded out quickly, which left him singing in the shadows. Professional to the core, he made no attempt to move to a part of the stage that was lit and stood right at the edge of the stage, in front of the monitors, in darkness - what an ar*ehole!
I was then told over comms to put in the pink and brought it up to about one-third brightness, but he complained straight away again, so I turned off in disgust and left! We had been told that no tabs were required at all for the show - not at the beginning, middle or end. At the end of the show as PJP and the band left the stage, the crew dashed on to start de-rigging - while the audience were still leaving the auditorium! Totally un-professional in my opinion. All-in-all, the worst show I've ever done, by far, the only saving grace being Sophie on keyboards, flute and sax - she was punctual, talented and a delightfully friendly northern lass - and the road crew, who were very thankful for Paul's & my help in loading up the flight cases.
29th September - Karen Noble tribute to Dusty Springfield. A great evening of nostalgia, with a great singer, too.
4th October - A flamboyant matinee performance by Bobby Crush, as Liberace (for those of you whose memory stretches back to the 70's).
6th October - Mercury - Queen tribute. What an absolutely fantastic show! Loud isn't the word!! Go and see it!!!
13th October - I went along just to watch the Locrian Ensemble. Enjoyed the classical music - especially the more well-known pieces that I'd heard before!
19th October - Elkie Brooks - sounds just as raunchy as ever - really enjoyed hearing her original hits, along with some new songs she's been working on this summer.
27th October - The Searchers got a great reception and really worked the crowd. A delightful evening and I'm looking forward to working with them again at Lakeside in November.
8th November - The Independant Welsh Ballet Company performed Giselle. There was no need for a followspot, but I went along to see my first ever ballet. Amazingly fit young ladies (and fellas, too) performed most expressively, but I'm afraid it all went straight over my head! I'm obviously not cut out for ballet. I suppose if you know the story, then you can follow the plot, but apart from the obvious 'falling in love' and 'tragic ending', I hadn't a clue what was going on or who was who etc.
10th November - Sweet Home Chicago - Blues Brothers show. Loud, raucous, energetic. Lots of audience interaction. A must-see show!
14th November - Brendan Shine. After his performance at Lakeside last year, I really wasn't looking forward to this evening. However, he did two sets and I think the break in the middle made it all the more bearable.
17th November - Phil Cool. Hmmm! Very droll humour. Very low-key delivery. Very funny! Very small audience, unfortunately. Worth seeing.
19th November - Last of the Summer Wine. Three 2-hour shows, recording audience reaction for dubbing onto final program. Many of the cast appeared in person. Great fun. Looking forward to the second sessions in January.
21st November - Comedy Night. A fun evening. A female double-act - very good. Ventriloquist Paul Zerdin and his side-kick Sam, were hillarious! A good-sized crowd enjoyed the evening.
23rd November - An evening with Jimmy Greaves. A great night out for football fans. Jimmy was great at telling gags while recounting his days in playing for England etc. He brought along Martin Peters, who was a bit too straight-laced and slowed the pace of the evening down a bit - his 20-minute pre-interval slot went on for 50 minutes and the audience were getting rather restless. Everyone seemed to enjoy it over all, though.
28th November - Georgie Fame & Sons. Georgie is still using the 1966 Hammond of his to great effect. Great stories between songs telling of his times in the '60s - who he hung around with - who his heroes were etc. Sons Jamie (drums) and Tristan (guitar) really added to the evening - my favourite musical evening's entertainment so far. Oh, did I mention that I did the lighting board?
14th December - 7th January 2007 - Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. A Pantoni Pantomimes production. The theatre hired my Canto for four weeks, as two followspots were required for the run. I took some time off my normal employment, so as to be able to do the pantos. Did 27 out of the 38 performances. Had to do the LX board for the last three days, as Paul was busy setting up for the Darts at Lakeside, so nephew Chris did my followspot. No written cues - all called over comms by Jo, who was the partner of the show's producer, who in turn was the Prince's valet in the show!
21st January 2007 - Last of the Summer Wine. Another three 2-hour shows, recording audience reaction for dubbing onto final program. Again, many of the cast appeared in person. They say they'll be back in November again! (Footnote: they didn't come back, sadly.)
23rd January - Comedy Night. OK'ish.
1st February - Spent the afternoon watching the fine tribute duo, Flanders & Swann. Good fun!
23rd February - Watched the Gilbert & Sullivan opera, "Utopia Unlimited". A send-up of the British Empire (with a few modern jokes thown in for good measure). Most enjoyable, seeing as I don't like opera! Did the Tech Services for the two shows on Saturday 24th.
9th March - Nashville Nights, Dixie Days. Not good!
13th March - Comedy Night. OK, but the American lady midget was tedious after the first few minutes!!
14th March - Phantom of the Musicals. Put on by the same people who did Abba show last September. This was really enjoyable, though!
16th March - Manfreds. With Paul Jones. Good stories. Good singing. Great audience interaction. Great evening.
18th March - Tech Services for local school (Howard of Effingham) production. Huge ship's deck scenery.
28th March - Roly Bain. Religious funny-man. Hmmm.
13th April - Magic Moments. Simple show - 50's & 60's popular music hits.
29th April - Tech Services for 'Poptastic' dance school.
19th June - Comedy Night. OK, but nothing great.
12th August - Tech Services (get-in) for StageCoach.co.uk production of Oliver! Nothing much to do - they do it all themselves :-)
18th August - Tech Services again, for the two shows and get-out of Oliver!
22th September - Tech Services for an Asian Charity gig. Hmmmm!
25th September - Comedy Night. Jim Tavare & Junior Simpson (both have been on TV) made this a good night.
28th September - In Dreams. Buddy Holly, Everly Brothers, Roy Orbison tributes. As per 23rd June at Lakeside, Roy O was not good. The band were excellent, though.
12th October - Watched 'Naked Truth' starring Lisa Riley (from Emmerdale) in a pole-dancing class. Very funny!
18th October - One Night in Vegas. Spectactular costumes on the dancing girls! Singer was somewhat weak, I felt.
20th October - Kytson Wolfe as Cliff Richard (and the Shadows). Dire. Enough said!!
22nd October - Comedy Night. As before - OK but nothing outstanding.
24th-27th October - National Youth Ballet. Theatre hired my followspot for the week. Loved the production. I was so impressed with the standard of the dancing that I've sponsored them (I gave them the followspot hire fee and my wages from the shows). Well done to everyone!!
31st October - Drifters. Routine night - nothing special.
7th November - Richard Digance. I'd been looking forward to seeing Richard for ages. Great evening, but small audience, sadly.
12th-14th November - Eva Cassidy Story. Very moving. Not a dry eye in the house. Excellent.
20th November - Comedy Night. The last one - audience figures don't make it viable.
24th November - Motown Show. Not using the singers shown on the publicity - they're working up north somewhere. The rehearsals left me feeling very trepidatious, but the stand-in female lead singer, Lorraine Brown, was absolutely fabulous in the show! Reminded me of Heather Small from 'M' People. Really enjoyed the evening.
30th November - Stylistics. My memory's let me down - two weeks later and I can't remember what they were like!
11th-12th December - Panto rehearsals. Pantoni Pantomimes - Cinderella. Hired my followspot again this year.
13th Dec - 5th Jan 2008 - Panto. Saturday 15th afternoon just about sold out!
31st Jan - Chas & Dave. A most un-rewarding evening, really disappointed.
1st Feb - Bee Gees & Abba. Bee Gees were the normal guys we've done many times before. The Abba four were a new lot, who were quite impressive.
13th Feb - Tom, Dick & Harry. A play (farce) - marginally funny in places, but got bored quite quickly. Helped with get-out - lots of heavy scenery took ages to dismantle and stow away.
29th Feb - Ruddigore (opera) - went to watch.
12th March - The Gershwin Years. Went to watch - most disappointing. Piano tuner didn't show up, so pianist wasn't best pleased, although he was a very accomplished player. Singer was a bit of a let-down.
24th March - Rainbow. Yes - that's right, Zippy, George & Bungle! Did the get-in, then stage-crewed the show. It just shows why I like doing followspot - I didn't get to see what was going on at all from back-stage, so couldn't exactly say I enjoyed myself!
29th March - Julie Felix. Those of you who remember her protest songs in the 60's & 70's would have enjoyed the evening. Still a marvellous singer, a fantastic guitar player and a thoroughly nice person to work with! At the end of the first half, she bowed so low that her hair touched the floor - not bad for a 69-year old!
3-5th April - (School's) We Will Rock You. Howard of Effingham School did themselves proud! A great gang of people to work with - and the cast gave 100% all the time. Great acting, simple sets, effective lighting (without the MAC500 they'd hired in - Paul couldn't get it to work on his laptop, although I managed on mine on the Saturday, but we didn't have time to program anything useful). Pupils used my followspot and the theatre's, both with Telrad sights from the second night. I flew on the Thursday, watched on the Friday, then did Paul's job for the two Saturday shows and the get-out.
14th April - Play - Strangers on a train. Supposed to be a thriller, but I found it quite boring. Acting was very good, though. Did the get-out.
18th April - Comedy Night. A new company (David Lee of Pantoni pantomimes fame) put this on. Advertised it properly and had a very good crowd. Paul Zerdin (& Sam, the dummy) starred and were very funny again. Did a clever bit at the end - sat the dummy up and walked off stage, leaving the dummy in a tight spotlight. Suddenly, it woke up and did a piece to the audience. Animatronics at its best! Well done!
1st May - Elvis. Two different performers - the first did the early years in the Army, the second did the later stuff. OK if you're an Elvis fan - I can take it or leave it, personally.
26th May - Harry & His Bucketful Of Dinosaurs. Two shows for the kids on this Bank Holiday. Did the flying - what there was of it. The lady puppeteer worked so hard!
31st May - Talkestra - Vivaldi's Four Seasons. First half spent informatively talking through the phrasing and construction of the pieces. Second half - performed the whole suite. Superb evening - thoroughly enjoyed it and would like to see them do more.
10th June - Route 66. OK-ish evening of American music. Nothing to write home about.
17th-21st June - Leatherhead Operatic Society - The King & I. Was on-site theatre tech - they had their own lighting & sound guys. Superb production, if a little long.
28th June - The Piano Men - Martyn Lucas. Tech'ed again. Very nice people to work with. Good show. Nice use of LEDs.
19th July - Fifi and the Flowertots. Kids enjoyed it.
10th-16th August - Stagecoach Theatre School. Serious disagreements with one of their men over whether they would replace Hillsong's movers at the end of the run. The show itself was good. Get-out took forever. Probably best not to do 2009 show.
27th September - A charity Carribean-themed evening, supposedly. Totally forgettable disgrace! Saw some interesting percussion instruments made out of dried pumpkin shells, though.
1st October - Watched the African Children's Choir. Great enthusiasm from the kids - and some pretty harrowing stories.
11th October - Asian private hire - I was told it required simple wash and 1 mic. Van with mega sound and lights turned up. Send e-mail to MF-W afterwards asking for copy of rider in future.
16th October - Essence of Ireland. Thought it would be a bit like Riverdance, but it wasn't. Disappointing.
18th October - Abba - Voulez-vous. Was fly-man. Good show from what I could see. Get-out until 2:45 am Sunday!
1st November - London Welsh Male Voice Choir. I was Tech Mgr for the day. Nice bunch of lads. Brought their own crew to erect tiered staging. No foldback required. Two barrels of Hogsback real ale, too! Great day - I'll volunteer again next year!!
13th November - One Night in Vegas. Martyn Lucas again. Hmmmm.
17th November - Affairs in a tent. Watched - Two performers played three roles each. Energetic & farcical!
13th December - Rehearsals for Aladdin.
15th December - 3rd January 2009 - Aladdin. Saturday afternoons had best audience figures. Some shows had very poor figures, sadly.
23rd January - Stardust. A rather un-exciting variety show, with Mike Newman Jr. who'd been the comic in the last two pantos at Leatherhead.
21st march - John Denver tribute band. Absolutely superb!
27/28th March - Howard of Effingham School - Singin' in the rain! Tom on lights as usual, and Mr Bean sorting everything else out. Finished get-out at something after 2am!!
31st March - Was S.M. for Marcus (who normally runs the Mezz bar) - Best of the Mezz. Mixed emotions about this one!
3/4th April - Birthday Suite. Another farce with Damien Williams starring. Very funny.
7th April - Copelia (ballet) - flying one cloth. then get-out.
8th April - C'mon Everybody - 50's / 60's Rock 'n' Roll. One or two reasonable bits.
20th May - A Midsummer Night's Dream - Ballet Wales. Watched first few minutes, then just did the get-out.
21st May - Andy Abrahams - Ex-X-factor runner-up and Eurovision 2008 singer. F/spot. Seems a nice guy. Great singer.
23rd May - Voice of the Heart - Karen Carpenter tribute. F/spot. Looked forward to this evening - wasn't disappointed.
30th May - ZU2. F/spot. Much, much too loud. Didn't know any of the songs. Boring. Hated it.
19/20th June - Leatherhead Operatic Society - Sweet Charity. Fabulous show - without doubt the best amateur production I've seen at the theatre - and better than many professional ones! Loved the Rhythm of Life scene after the interval. The lighting guy was named Stuart, too, so that can't be bad!
11th July - Leatherhead Theatre School - techie standby during day. Evening - Blenheim School - Oh What A Lovely War! An enthusiastic, well-performed show.
15th August - Stagecoach Theatre School - Unsinkable! Based on the Titanic story. Cleverly produced. Get-out took forever again this year.
22nd August - The Biz Theatre School - Fame! The Musical. A super production - very slick after only 2 weeks preparation. Most enjoyable.
7-12th September - Stepping Out. 25 years after its original opening at the Thorndyke Theatre, its subsequent West End run and world tour, and a film, the show is setting off on a new UK tour, starting back here at Leatherhead. Very funny - some wonderful lines, and characters too. Hats off to all the cast, who learned to tap. Get-out finished at 4:45am Sunday!!
17th September - Charity Night with Bobby Davro as host.
9th October - Sing-along-a-Sound-of-Music! Great charity night. Audience dressed up as all sorts of things (favourite things?). Most enjoyable night.
28th November - Honk! Can't remember anything about this, 2 months on.
12th December - Elmbridge Choir(s). Ladies choir led by Ramon, who did Margaret's show for Nick.
13th-31st December - Robinson Crusoe panto. I ended up 'reading book' for the whole run. An interesting experience! Nice cast, even if the two leads couldn't sing too well!
9th Jan - was going to watch the King's Chamber Orchestra, but the show got cancelled due to the treacherous snow & icy conditions.
Late February - the Theatre have acquired an ETC ION desk and some scrollers. Looking forward to getting my hands on that lot!
Sadly, my daytime job location changed, which meant that I couldn't easily get to the theatre after work, so the number of shows I worked on dwindled to nothing.
Other One-Off Events
An introduction from Paul (Technical Manager at Lakeside Country Club) led to my being asked to followspot a charity evening in aid of the NSPCC, at the Royal Bath Hotel in Bournemouth on May 14th, 2006. The show turned out to be an absolute nightmare (from the organiser's point of view), but the sound and lighting crews did their best under the circumstances and I look forward to working with the crew again.
Mid-June, and another introduction from Paul led to me rushing to EuroHire at Basingstoke to load my car with sound and lighting gear to cover the last night of the Winchfield Festival, as EuroHire had a big gig up north to cover and had nobody they could spare for Winchfield. Having met the boss, Merv, on a number of occasions, I was only too willing to help him out and I enjoyed the evening immensely.
July 29th and yet another introduction from Paul (thanks for all these, Paul!) led to me 'spotting for a "Come Dancing" type Ball for the Army at Pirbright. Held in a lavish marquee, my, those Army types know how to enjoy themselves! Major Natalie Nash was the organiser and was able to rustle up just about anything that was needed. During the meal, there was a team of demonstration Ballroom Dancers (students from Oxford University), who were absolutely amazing! The lady's costumes (what there was of them!) were fabulous - I wish I had taken my camera with me!
June/July 2008 - I met Ollie Welsh at the Wilde Theatre whilst doing Lin Tunbridge's dance show. When I found out he worked at the Woking Theatre, I asked if he could give me a contact name as I was interested in followspotting there. He did so, then immediately collared me to help out with Opera at Bearwood (Verdi - A Masked Ball) the following week, as they had no 'spot operators. I duly obliged - and worked with a young school-leaver who'd never touched a 'spot before. A few minutes tuition from me and away we went. Tech rehearsal and full run-through on Sunday, full dress rehearsal on Monday, then shows on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday & Saturday. Opera is not for me, I'm afraid, but I suspect I'll end up helping them out next year, too! (Footnote: I didn't get asked!)
April 2009 - My nephew, Nick, had decided to put on a Charity show in aid of the MS Society, on the 5th anniversary of the passing of his mother, my sister, Margaret. He had managed to cajole many people into performing music, songs & dances from the West-end musicals, and rehearsals went on for over 6 months. Well, the cast did brilliantly and the show went ahead with very few hitches, but Nick's behaviour during and after the event left a very sour taste in many people's mouths. I shall not be working with him again, that's for sure, and I doubt many, if any, of the cast will either.
Q. Why did I choose the name STAR?
A. Well, STuARt is one option, as are STuart A Roy and StuarT A Roy! As the followspot usually highlights the "star" on stage, it somehow seemed an appropriate "business" name!