It’s a funny old thing, being in a musical theatre show. You invest hours of your life; getting to know your cast-mates, learning lines, memorising songs and dances, and trying to tap into the character you are required to convincingly portray in front of paying audiences in a matter of weeks. It’s no easy feat. Throw in the fact that GMT has garnered a substantial amount of praise for its past productions, and so has earned a reputation as...what did The Skinny say...’teeming with talent?’, you’ve got yourself one hell of a task on your hands.
That having been said the end result, in my experience, is always, always worth it. The buzz of live theatre is something I would be hard pushed to accurately describe. The only thing I can compare it to is a really amazing night out, where your outfit totally works, the DJ plays all your most favourite songs, you manage not to get so drunk you make a fool of yourself, your shoes don’t hurt and you laugh yourself into bed, exhausted and happy, then wake up the next morning to find a tenner in your purse. All totally by accident. It is intense, exhilarating, adrenaline-inducing stuff.
And then it’s over.
Despite that point around about the 2nd performance when you feel like it really is going to go on forever, the end of a show week always comes around quicker than a cheetah after a double espresso. You find yourself whispering things backstage like ‘Oh! This is the last time we’ll ever do *insert seminal musical number that it took you 2 months, 1 pulled hamstring and 6 gallons of Lucozade to get right here*’ or ‘Awww, this is the last beard I’m going to have this week!’ And the best thing is, everyone understands! Or at least, everyone who is backstage with you understands. It’s not so easy when you’re back out in...DUN DUN DUUUUUUUNNNN... The Real World.
In The Real World, people just smile, say ‘how was your show?’ then stand, frozen in silent horror as you launch into a sobbing tirade of ‘wonderful’s, ‘fabulous’s and ‘just-can’t-believe-it’s-actually-over’s. The exchange is usually cut short by said acquaintance trying to subtly extricate themselves from your shuddering grasp and reclaim their coat sleeves before they become saturated in tears and dribble, before quickly muttering some generic platitude and excusing themselves to go back and be with the normal people. You have to give it to us Brits, we’re a polite bunch. I’m sure other nationalities would just slap you across the face and yell ‘GET OVER IT YOU FOOL! IT WAS ACTING! YOU WERE PRETENDING! REAL LIFE RESUMES NOW OK?!’ All well and good, but when you’re sitting on the couch, staring listlessly at the tv while your other half pings peas into your mouth using a plastic fork in a vain attempt to get your attention, it may be time to admit it: you’ve got Post Show Blues.
Now, I’m no expert, but if I was I would tell you categorically that the Post Show Blues really do exist. It’s the result of all the hard work that I’ve described above, coupled with the ‘hive mentality’ that tends to take over when you are in the same confined space with the same group of people for a whole week. You are accepted. You belong. These people get you. They are your thespian soulmates. And then they’re gone. You are left with only the Other people, who tell you to cheer up when all you really want to do is sit in a puddle of your own self-indulgent tears listening to the soundtrack of the show you’ve just done and eating peanut butter out of the jar with a spoon. Or your fingers, it really depends on how depressed you are. And it’s not just your cast-mates, it’s your characters too. I’m a little ashamed to admit this, especially given my rampant feminist proclivities, but I really miss Crookfinger Jake. Yes, I am mourning the passing of a character who at best could be described as a transvestite criminal, at worst a psychopathic misogynist with a serious Napoleon complex.
But maybe it’s OK that not everyone can relate to how you feel. After all, isn’t one of the things we all love about being part of a show: that feeling of being special? That you were chosen out of all the others to be included in such a wonderful thing? It’s like the finger of a big pink sparkly musical theatre God splitting the clouds and touching you on the shoulder, then singing in 3-part harmony ‘It’s yoooou-hoooo!’ If everyone understood how you felt then it wouldn’t be as special anymore. The in-jokes would just be jokes, and the whole world would grind to a queasy halt the morning after the aftershow party because no-one would be able to drag themselves out of bed.
So we must allow ourselves to grieve the loss of yet another show, yet another character and yet another cast/family. They must be bade farewell, consigned to our own personal musical theatre heaven where productions past while away eternity in an all-singing, all-dancing cabaret. And although I’m sad to see him go, I bet that Crookfinger Jake is having a whale of a time up there, hanging out with the Jet boys and giving Judd Fry a run for his money in the ‘least-eligible-man-at-the-box-social’ contest. Cause that’s just the kind of guy he is. But I don’t expect you to understand. Now kindly hand me that jar of peanut butter and leave me be.