I went to the old people's film club on the Uxbridge Road this afternoon to watch a screening of Tales of the White City. It was a moving experience to watch my piece alongside several of its "stars" plus about 40 other local people.
The film club is a very special enterprise. Pensioners from White City and Shepherd's Bush turn up every Monday lunchtime for a lovely buffet and a two-hour film programme projected on a large screen. My piece was followed by a Marx Brothers film.
It was standing room only today. The group meets at vicar Bob's church hall. Bob, of course, features prominently in the film singing about his struggle with epilepsy. I'd visited the group in late February in the process of recruiting people to take part. We played 100 Faces and Songs From Hattersley and a number of key people came forward as a result.
Bob stood up today and spoke passionately to the group. The poor bloke has had another seizure whilst out jogging and was sporting the most horrendous tick-shaped gash on his forehead. He said the words to his song were going through his head throughout the ordeal. He's always said how important he feels it is to use the misery of his condition for the greater good. He spoke to the group today about the importance of asking for help, be it from friends, religious leaders or professionals, proudly announcing that he'd decided to go to see a counsellor to help him to come to terms with his epilepsy, which I thought was incredibly brave. He spoke honestly and openly and had the group in the palm of his hand. He's obviously a very fine vicar.
There were sighs and laughs all the way through the film itself. I'm not sure the crowd would have been able to hear every word as the hall has a very odd acoustic which rather swallows up dialogue, but there were certainly plenty of coos of recognition as people noticed obscure corners of the estate which had significance to them, and friends and family members who they hadn't realised had also been a part of the film.
I spent the afternoon working in a cafe in Soho and then went with Nathan to see the first preview of From Here to Eternity, Tim Rice's new musical about the WW2 attack on Pearl Harbour. I was pleasantly surprised. The music was sumptuous and beautifully orchestrated and the performances were strong across the board. It could do with a little trim in act 2, and one of the story threads in act 1 seemed somewhat confusing, but I'm sure all of that will be sorted before the press night.
I personally think we should be celebrating anything modern and British in the field of musical theatre particularly something which has had a bit of money thrown at it in the shape of a large pit orchestra, a big ensemble of actors and some good-looking sets. It was brave and it was dignified. Congratulations Messrs Rice and Brayson.
In the interval, I overheard two ghastly old theatre queens laying into the show. "Yes, that actor needs to get himself to the gym, doesn't he?Yes, it was really dull wasn't it? What was it that the stage manager you met said about the show? That's right, from here to February! Pnah, Pnah, Pnah..." Mincey, mincey, gay, gay. On and on they went, and I thought, "come on, you nasty homs, this is the interval of this show's first preview performance. How DARE you take great delight in the concept of any theatre piece closing after a four-month run. People have worked incredibly hard to bring it to the stage. It might not be your cup of tea, but don't hope for failure, because if it DOES fail, it will signify another nail in the coffin of the British musical theatre industry and in no time at all there won't be any shows in the West End left for you to slag off, you rancid turd." That's what I thought... And I wished I'd said it to him, and then bitch-slapped him across his fake-tanned face. I hate arm chair critics. I just hope he paid for a full-price ticket! I half expected to see him in the little drinks reception afterward telling Tim Rice what a smash hit he'd written!