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When Valley Park Productions performed Andrew Lloyd Webber & Tim Rice's Evita, booth singer Kyle Siwek kept a backstage diary of his experience...
Monday: Dress rehearsal
We gathered in the hall and the cast were given their costumes ready for the dress rehearsal. After the orchestra arrived, we began to rehearse. The musicians sounded amazing and both cast & crew sang their hearts out for their directors. While some things needed fixing, it was a real help to all the actors and crew.
Tuesday: First night
The company were buzzing with first night fever. After notes from Mr G, the audience filed in, costumes and make up were applied, and the first act began. During the interval, the traditional hot cross bun was eaten by myself & fellow booth singer, Tom Dixon.
The second act began with the iconic balcony scene. Evita, played by Nicole Kakel, was raised up on a hydraulic lift (cunningly disguised as a balcony) so she can address her citizens as the new First Lady of Argentina.
One down, four to go!
As Costumes & make-up were once again applied, year six students from local primary schools assembled in the hall for the matinee performance, which was given with much enthusiasm by the cast. After a short break, the cast returned to prep themselves for the second performance of the day.
'Requiem' was performed with great energy to an (almost) packed house. The interval continued a little too long as the orchestra were late for the start of act two, but that just added to the audience's anticipation.
Three down, two to go!
After notes, I had to re-apply seat numbers to the racked seating (not going to pretend that was fun), and helped prepare goodie bags for VIP night. I sat down on my red stool, adjacent to the orchestra, ready to begin. The first act went incredibly well but the hot cross bun I ate during the interval was even better. Mmm!
The second act was performed with just as much gusto as the first and the VIPs were incredibly impressed.
Four down, only one left to go!
One of the cast member's mothers had made a cake for everyone involved in the show which was really delicious! After helping the cast get ready for the last performance, I swept the floor of the hall before sitting down on my red stool for the last time.
The first act was fantastic; the singing and orchestra sounded amazing. After the last interval, and my last hot cross bun, I readied myself to sing for the last balcony scene.
Why does this have to end?
After a flawless second act, the audience cheered as the cast took their bows before going back stage. We cheered Mr Gleadall and give cards and flowers to the teachers. Everyone was so happy but incredibly sad that it was all over.
Mayor Moriarty's Missive
After VIP night, the Mayor of Maidstone, Councillor Daniel Moriarty, wrote to the school to express his thanks. Parts of his letter are quoted here...
The performance of Evita left me somewhat breathless, yet elated to have been there to witness such a spectacular performance that would not be out of place in the West End.
I thoroughly enjoyed the dancing, beautiful costumes, superb songs and singing voices, and the backdrop. A fantastic soundtrack, that is still stuck in my head, was really done justice by the strong singing voices of the cast.
Everyone looked very comfortable on the stage and really gave their all taking on some powerful numbers. It was that good I was convinced that it had to be a CD playing.
It was indeed a most enjoyable evening at the theatre. I congratulate you all. For me it will remain a fond memory of an evening I thoroughly enjoyed during my term as Mayor of Maidstone.