Thursday, 24 June 2010

Two Shakespeares and a Funeral

Is it really 3 months since my last blog post? Yes (she says sheepishly) I'm afraid it is!

I will start with the funeral (on 31st March) and the shock and sadness felt at the death of one of my fellow cast members from Rugby Theatre's "Gaslight". Barbara Finch who played the housekeeper, passed away just a month after our last performance in February. Aged 69 but looking much younger, Barbara appeared so full of life and zest. It feels such an honour that she spent her last few weeks of life within the happy family of the Gaslight cast and crew. RIP Barbara x

Barbara Finch as Elizabeth (left) in Gaslight

Following my guest appearance on BBC Radio Coventry & Warwickshire on 'National No Smoking Day' on 10th March I was invited back to the station's "Coffee Club" on 5th April, presented by the lovely Annie Othen. It is a bit like a radio version of ITV's "Loose Women", a very relaxed hour of chit-chat with three other women. On the agenda were finance, camping, football, cycling, holidays and skinny people. I returned to the station a couple of weeks later for "My Song", a 5-minute slot to tell listeners the story behind a significant song in my life, which was "Hello" by Lionel Richie".

In May, I attended an audition in Birmingham for an acting company. Following 3 hours of improvisation, fun and frolics (not cockney rhyming slang, I hasten to add) I made it into their books! Just waiting for the phone to ring.....

Also in May, I went, for the first time, to Shakespeare's Globe Theatre in London to see "Macbeth". It was a brilliant afternoon's entertainment and I can't remember having ever applauded so enthusiastically at the end of a performance. The whole cast was talented, but I particularly liked the 'Weird Sisters' and the 'Porter' (keeper of Macbeth's castle) skilfully and humorously played by Frank Scantori. He took great pleasure in throwing buckets of wee into the 'groundlings' who were the standing audience, many who stood under a large canopy with their heads peeping through.They represented the lost souls in Hell - utterly fantastic! Coincidentally, Frank Scantori was also one of the leading actors in the film 'Room 36' reviewed in my last blog post.

Outside Shakespeare's Globe Theatre in London

Frank Scantori as the Porter

The following day I did something I vowed a few years ago I would never do again... I worked as a TV 'Extra'. I'm a really easy-going person but past experiences of being herded about like cattle truly put me off! However, the opportunity arose to work in 'Midsomer Murders' in Henley-on-Thames, and offered a lift by a fellow Equity member, I agreed. As it happened, I was grouped (as a garden party guest) with a couple of very funny guys who looked after me all day. If Tony and Pete ever read this, thank you! During lunch we got lumbered with another chap who I nicknamed 'Duracell' because he went on and on, talking incessantly about when he appeared in Robin Hood with Russell Crowe (yawn). He carried on talking about Russell whilst eating greasy tomato pasta and never once paused to chew properly. Looking into the depths of his orange glistening mouth, I struggled to eat my own lunch! We managed to escape Duracell thankfully but we were full of sympathy for his other victims, who no doubt were tempted to gnaw off their own fingers in boredom. There is a limit to how much time one is prepared to hear about Russell Crowe and Robin bl***y Hood! I bet Duracell's teeth are happy when he's asleep.

A couple of weeks later in June, one of the nice funny chaps, Tony and his very pretty wife, Helen performed in an outdoor production of Shakespeare's 'Twelfth Night'. Trevor and I did a 180-mile round trip to see it and it was worth every mile to see this charming performance with a glorious backdrop in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire.

Malvolio and Sir Toby Belch (Tony)

What else? Well, we've just returned from a pleasant 3 days in Devon, visiting family and friends in Torquay, Dartmoor, Plymouth and Teignmouth. Back to work... bye for now x

Taken on Teignmouth Pier

Friday, 26 March 2010

Room 36

I watched this rather unusual film the other night. I'm not a film buff and don't know if Room 36 is widely known. If not, then it certainly is deserving of recognition.

Room 36 has been described as a film noir, a horror, a comedy and a farce and it is indeed all of these things. Imagine a black and white Brian Rix farce with lots of blood and a few 'f'words.

Amongst the blood and gore it has some great comic moments. I particularly liked Paul Herzberg as the tidy-obsessive hitman and Frank Scantori as the large, naughty underwear salesman.

Cursed from the beginning, it took 11 years to make Room 36, causing problems with continuation, ie. aging actors! There is a heartwarming documentary which accompanies the film - telling a tale of sheer determination of director/writer Jim Groom to complete the project.

Visit for more information and a synopsis.

Other news:

It's my 50th birthday this summer and a few years ago, Trevor and I planned to celebrate it in the USA. We hadn't known then, of course, that we'd be flat broke in 2010. This year I resigned myself to inviting family members over for a glass of pop and a sandwich.

Well there's no need for me to butter any bread because my fantastic parents have bought us a week's holiday to Jersey in the Channel Islands! I lived there for a couple of years in the 1980's and have always longed to return. We'll be staying in a hotel - I hope we're not in Room 36.

Thursday, 11 March 2010

National No Smoking Day - 10th March 2010

I wrote a blog article last June about how I gave up smoking in 2004. This article was picked up recently by a producer at the BBC Coventry & Warwickshire radio station. She invited me to go into the studios on 'National No Smoking Day' (yesterday,10th March) for a live interview with the morning presenter, Annie Othen.

The programme is available to listen to on BBC iPlayer, only for about a week I think, if anyone is interested,

I'm on air 8 minutes 45 seconds into the programme until 26 minutes 51 seconds. Annie Othen is such a lovely, interesting person you may want to listen to all of her programme!

Making a Drama out of a Crisis


Playing Bella Manningham at the Rugby Theatre 6-13 February was a tremendous experience. After a 7-year break from stage acting, it was good to tread the boards again. Here is a small selection of photos from the 90 or so that were taken during 2 dress rehearsals.

I don't know about my performance but that wig deserved a standing ovation. it managed to stay on, in spite of me throwing myself around the stage! I called it 'Fido' and fed it twice a day.

Moving wallpaper - or furniture anyway

Referring to my last blog post on 21st February - the crisis is over. It sounds over-dramatic I know, but a few weeks ago I thought I'd never feel happy again. Business was slow in 2009, resulting in mounting debts and the need to drastically reduce our monthly outgoings. We made enquiries to let our house and before we knew it, it was advertised and snapped up with tenants wanting to move in within 2 weeks! We weren't in a financial position to turn it down and it meant we had to find somewhere else much cheaper to live, and find it quickly. As luck would have it, a flat was available to rent in the same road, just 65 yards away at an affordable price. Extremely lucky, you might be thinking, and you'd be right, the flat is fabulous BUT... no dogs allowed! If we'd had time to consider it all properly we would NEVER have parted with our 2 gorgeous little dogs, but we had to make an urgent decision, so the dogs went. Trevor, my daughter Lucy and I never expected it to be as painful as it was and we all cried buckets for days after we gave them to another family.

However, just over a week ago, we contacted the family and they agreed to us taking the dogs out for a few hours. It was lovely but when we returned them, the pooches seemed so pleased to be back with their new family, we accepted they aren't ours any more and it was time to let go. Crisis over and happy times have returned :)

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Moving On...

It's been a manic few weeks.

We find ourselves in reduced financial circumstances. We have let our house and are renting a flat over the road....moving today.

Our 2 dogs were given to another family on Tuesday, which has been traumatic for all of us......

"Gaslight" went well... more about that and photos in a future post.

We will have no internet access until 1st March.