THE FUN & GAMES BEHIND THE 2003 & 2006 VERSIONS OF THE HIT COMEDY
THE 2003 TOUR
PART 1.
"TOGETHER AGAIN" 

But we certainly weren't to be down hearted -a few months later we were all off doing various Christmas shows-Jimmy and Guy at Chelmsford in "Puss in Boots",Stef at Lincoln, Danny at Bradford. I sad to say had one of the two  " infamous seasons"-best forgotten-and ironically it took a Newpalm "Aladdin" at Chelmsford to give me back my confidence and assurance that the good training, repertoire and reviews  I'd gathered,  ,prior to 2001 were not all in vain ! I spent the following year touring in a similar show-"The Real Monty" for David Graham and my dear friend and colleague Jan Hunt-and then cabaret act with a close friend of mine in Brighton, a commercial in Budapest, a follow up in Israel and a surprise revue- singing Noel Coward-all somehow inextricably dovetailed together and rounded off by "Aladdin" at Chelmsford-the first of many happy pantomimes for the  Newpalm family.

In early 2003-I was equally as busy-with more Brighton cabaret with my dear friend Jerome (check out his website-) another revue-featuring the magic of Broadway-which didn't quite dovetail as we'd hoped...........................

Most of the cast had kept in touch over the years gap-and a lot of them had come to see "The Real Monty"-so we knew that another tour was on the cards-but it was all very vague as to how long/where/with whom etc. Eventually-the dates came through and the rehearsal dates clashed with my revue that I'd agreed to. But-Stuart came to the rescue as he has on numerous occasions and arranged dance rehearsals when I couldn't be around and dialogue/scene rehearsals when I could.
We'd also heard that only half of us from the previous cast were in a position to re-sign. Jimmy was in a long run somewhere, both Andy's were busy and Caroline was unavailable-so we had a new Bernie,Glenda,Graham and Wesley-plus-two new ASM/covers-as Stef was now working extremely hard in other tours-particularly the UK tour of "Annie" in 2002-in which he excelled as ever.

I'd spoken to Guy and he was anxious that we'd be able to create the same "chemistry" and "hoped the new-comers fitted in with what we'd done before". At this-I didn't exactly argue or take him to task-but I re-enforced a maxim that we should all be aware of ; It is so much harder to come into a show when there is an established cast who've done it before-and it can be very daunting and frustrating for anyone new to bring that individual touch. OK-on bigger shows-(particularly west end/Broadway- you MUST follow the original direction /characterisation etc and not do anything majorly radical -but ....... after all- I for one had radically over-hauled the role of Gavin in a way that hadn't been done before.

Stuart had ideas for a new line up of strips-and I did my best to overhaul the costumes and at least try and create new sets of gags-rather than repricate the 2001 production.

Stuart expressly said- "more routines and less long links"-which I could totally appreciate.Why have a long link into a routine-unless a major set or costume change was required-it therefore gave us far more to the cabaret section.

Just before we started rehearsals-Stuart rang me and asked if I knew of a good company/stage manager-as sadly-Carl couldn't be with us for the new tour.

I'd been to see the 2nd tour of "The Real Monty-which I'd toured the previous year but hadn't done the 2nd tour. My friend Linda from the first tour had gone back into the show intermitantly-and she introduced me to the company/stage manager from that tour.He seemed perfect for our show-but looking back-there were a few areas.......

 We started re-rehearsing at St Gabriel's Pimlico rehearsal rooms again (albeit a different room.I think over the time with Newpalm-we got to rehearse in every nook and cranny of that place)and I remember the first day particularly-becuase of being inroduced to the magic cabinet ! This was an ingenious device-which was actually a wooden framework,with a curtain lowered and raised by pulleys.The idea was-that "Gloria" would miraculusly replace the Roman gladiator who previosuly had inhabited the box-even through there was no trap door or way out the back.

It was actually all done-with just creating the illusion that the bottom of the box was shallower than it was-and there was actually a secret compartment in the bottom-in which I would conceal myself. The first time I went into the bottom of the box-I readily admit I almost had a panic attack-because I went in head first-and couldn't see or move-very scary.the trick was to lie curled up with one's head in the centre of the concealed chamber. The only draw-back was the view above me of the Roman gladiator-played by our ne asm/cover Craig !

(I will leave the rest to your imagination!)

 The other new members of the cast were Laura,who took over the role of Glenda,Dominic Golding who took over the role of Graham ,James who took over Bernie and Jess who took over Wesley.In addition-Craig ,David and Marielle took over the ASM/cover roles.

 We rehearsed in one of the bigger rooms at Pimlico(we covered them all over the years !) -which was rather difficult-doing routines on carpet(particularly for the boys doing YMCA with it's energetic leaps !)

As usual-I was rehearsing and playing in another show at the same time(jobs are like buses-nothing and then two come along at once) in this case a revue of Broadway classics called "Broadway calling" in Brighton. So for the first week of rehearsals for "Ladies Night" I was on my second week of rehearsals for "Broadway Calling" and then whilst "Broadway" was playing the following week at night in Brighton-I'd been rehearsing all day in Pimlico.Luckily-it's only a stone-throw from Victoria-and fifty minutes by train.( This sort of cox and box schedule was quite usual during the Newpalm years !)Stuart was very accomadating on these occasions-and managed to work round my juggling too shows-rehearsing the routines while I was singing classic broadway!

Rehearsals were fairly straightforward-but we had to get used to a slightly different dynamic within the team. The new lads were fairly similar in their portrayals-but we all tried not impose our timing on their own unique way of playing the roles. The main difference was James as Bernie.Because James was younger than Jimmy-the stand up patter was tricky-as the audience weren't so keen to accept such blatant insults from a younger guy-whereas Jimmy's portrayal had a certain gravitass.

In a similar way-the dressing room scene at the end of the play-suddenly became very aggressive and an angry scene-with us all picking up on each other's intonation.After a couple of run-through's Stuart very wisely called a hault to the rehearsals and asked to radically asking us to re-think how we played the scene(or rather to think before we spoke)-the balance was soon restored.Amidst this semi-chaos-i still found time to re-cap on the "mirror monologue" using the make-up-to much amusement !

The gym scene with Glenda was always tricky to get just right-as Glenda had to be in control of the boys ,despite their many jokes and larking about. But-Laura soon cracked the dynamic and in many ways-the scene flowed better than before.