Snowbusiness like showbusiness

 Newsletter January 2010

Seems like my xmas debut as the Snow Queen at the Barbican Theatre summoned up a real snowstorm. A lot of people were upset that they were not able to go or that they did not hear about it until too late. Well to explain, it really only happened by complete fluke.


The Background
My granddaughter Dilys Mae (3) and I love to sing together. Her favorite DVD is the Sound Of Music. She thinks that Julie Andrews is her other grandmother. We sing the tunes of the musical at the tops of our voices when I drive her on the motorway. We get some very strange looks from passing traffic. Our very best one is Doh! Oh Dear or some such. A while ago after having enjoyed watching them take part in the BBC Choir Contest series on telly I was approached by the Brighton Gay Men's Chorus.

They wanted me to take part in a Gay Xmas show with them at the Barbican Theatre in London playing the Snow Queen. How camp. I was just going to dictate a polite refusal when I noticed that part of their repertoire is a version of, guess what? The Sound of Music. I'm thinking, this might be the last opportunity for Dilys Mae to see her grandma live on stage and here was the clincher, singing Do Re Mi. She would be ecstatic.

Our only rehearsal took place in Brighton on the first day of the snow phenomena that took over UK this winter. We don't usually get that kind of weather and it was totally unexpected. On the way home the first flurry arrived. By the time we hit the M25 it was a full scale white out. How peculiar that I should be playing the Snow Queen I mused.
I invited Dilys Mae with her mum and dad and a friend to the show. All very low key. I did not want to make a public song and a dance about it. I kept my intention a complete secret from everyone. Backstage, just before I went on for The Sound Of Music sequence I mentioned to the production assistant to tell the director in the technical box to expect changes. Only he forgot.

I went on and asked if Dilys was in the audience. The auditorium was pitch black and I could not see a thing. The director meanwhile went into a flat spin. I peered into the darkness and suddenly saw her walking confidently at her mum's side up the aisle toward the stage. Grace must have been dying with embarrassment as this is really not her sort of thing. But it certainly is Dilly's thing. She joined me on stage and sat in the lap of The Snow Queen in complete wonderment and bliss as we sang Do Re Mi. At the end she left the stage to huge applause in her sparkly red trainers I had given her as if she had been doing it forever. Not a dry eye in the house.
So please forgive me for this very private ‘public' moment. I really wanted Dilys Mae to know me and to know that her dreams can come true.

Thanks to the director Carol Todd, the musical director Ignacio, Raymond Gubbay Agency, and all the members of the choir for making this possible. Majic!