Women On The Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown’s Anna Skellern has been practicing her belting, worrying about corpsing and being treated to an unusual performance by the show’s composer…
Rehearsals are intense and in full swing. My fellow cast members continue to amaze. I usually just have to act; these guys are effortlessly acting AND dancing AND singing. Musical theatre actors should get paid triple.
We’re rehearsing six days a week and so this Sunday I spent sleeping, doing the washing and… well, sleeping. I also managed to see my niece and nephew, who are the world’s two best people… and I am in no way biased. We re-watched Frozen(why do children always want to watch things over and over?!?!) and yes, I did end up singing Let It Go with them; they certainly weren’t appreciative of my new fondness for belting. They kindly mustered all their effort not to look appalled and gently told me “That’s not how it goes, Aunty Anna.”
Thankfully there’s no belting in our stunning new final song, The View From Here, that David Yazbek finished writing this week.
Apparently, back in the day, first read-throughs on Broadway weren’t read by the cast. The writer would read the whole script out loud and the composer would perform the songs. We got a taste of this on Wednesday when the devilishly funny David performed The View From Here. It was incredibly moving and transformative until suddenly half-way through David forgot a section and launched into a particularly inventive series of expletives, sending us all into stitches. I will never forget those words. Neither will the 10-year-old he didn’t realise was in the room.
Tamsin is another one in our team who is so naturally funny she’d probably be able to make you laugh in her sleep. I’m not at all convinced that I’ll be able to make it through a show without corpsing (theatre-speak for laughing out of character). My character, Candela, has a penchant for stating the obvious and the looks that Tamsin gives me combined with that naughty twinkle in her eye make it very hard to stay in character.
Candela is a funny, innocently optimistic, passionate and – how shall I put it – ‘selectively intelligent’ model. It’s a welcome change to play someone a bit girly.
One of the great pleasures of my job is playing wildly different characters. In the past year I’ve played a vicar, a Princess, a saloon owner in the Wild West and a tough police officer. For the past six months, I’ve been shooting BBC1’s new cop drama The Interceptor and playing Kim, a tough tomboy cop who doesn’t suffer fools. So it’s refreshing to play the adorable Candela who’s actually allowed to smile and laugh with abandon.
I’ve heard that children laugh 300 times a day and adults only 15. I am determined to combat this. I add ‘laugh more’ below ‘exercise more’ to my never-ending list of things to do, which pretty much ensures it will never happen.
Whenever we’re not rehearsing I’m trying to exercise; drinking red wine is exercising, right?!? My character is as energetic as a child on Christmas morning. Candela is constantly flinging herself up and down stairs, onto couches, jumping on beds, on people and off large structures in general. And all of this while wearing only one shoe and singing.
She’s like a little dog who’s so excited to see you that she’s constantly turning in circles. I don’t know about you, but I haven’t been that excited since I genuinely thought saw I Santa at the age of six (who’d have known my uncle had got so fat.) So if I’m going to make it to next week, I’d better look at that to do list again.
Women On The Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown begins performances at the Playhouse Theatre on 16 December. You can book tickets through us here. You can also get a great deal for shows in January and February through our promotion, Get Into London Theatre.