PIAF: Before Opening Night
'Tis the Sunday before Piaf opens at The Curve Theatre, Leicester. I am sitting in my digs, with a glass of wine in hand, wondering what the press will think of it all. Hopefully, they will enjoy it as much as the preview audiences. However, until they give their verdict, let me tell you about the lead-up to now and rehearsals.
Firstly, we have a stupidly talented cast. And I really do mean stupidly talented. Not only has Paul Kerryson excelled in bringing together a lovely group of good-natured souls, among us we have a dive-master, two Cambridge graduates, a yoga instructor, a Michelin-starred chef (he also trained as a doctor, no less) and, well... err...... me. Needless to say, the conversation in The Exchange (pub) is never dull.
Oh, and in case we didn't have enough on our plates putting the show together in three and a half weeks, we all decided that it would be a really good idea to get super-fit by using our lunch hour to do a boot-camp/marine style workout called Insanity. It did wonders for our morale, seeing one another collapsed in sweaty heaps of exhaustion on a daily basis. Yummy.
Having previously worked with the play's author Pam Gems, Paul skilfully guided us through the script, and rehearsals were insightful, enjoyable and moving; the first time Frances Ruffelle sang Hymn L'amour, we were all genuinely moved and knew that she was going to be a tour de force as Piaf. I'm in awe of my fellow cast members, seamlessly morphing into all The Players surrounding Piaf throughout her life. Laura Pitt-Pulford gives a masterclass in how to be witty, moving and whore-ish (!), and the tender glimpses into this troubled woman's life are made heartfelt by Oliver Boot, Stephen Webb, Sean Dodds and Dale Rapley's touching and well-thought choices.
I have learnt much from this bunch over the last couple of weeks - not least to take care of my voice whilst driving to and from London with Jason Denton as my passenger; we thought it a giggle to sing the entire Wicked soundtrack one crisp Monday morning on our journey back to rehearsals. Our rendition of Defying Gravity at 8.30am might well have turned my friend Rachel Tucker's skin a shade of green...permenantly.
Now it's time to take a deep breath and see what the general public and national press make of it all. The show's timing makes it very thought-provoking; what with the tragic deaths of both Whitney Houston and Amy Winehouse, many parallels can be drawn between these talented singers and it makes Edith Piaf's life-story as relevant today as it has ever been.
See you on the other side...
Tiffany Graves stars as Marlene in PIAF at the Curve, Leicester.