First preview. Sacred ground, as we discovered in the Hamlet furore. So don’t worry, I’m not going to review the very first preview of the West End transfer of Kinky Boots – other than to say I absolutely fell in love with it, and will definitely be making my way back to the Adelphi sooner rather than later!
No, what I want to talk about is my experience of attending a first preview. It’s only the second time I’ve done this; the first was the Old Vic’s epic production of The Crucible, just over a year ago. Slightly different to this show…
You know it’s going to be a special night when you see this sign outside:
I know the show technically isn’t ‘new’ in the strictest sense (it’s based on true events & the film of the same name, and has been on Broadway for two and a half years), but it still fills me with joy to see a new production being so well supported so early on. Having West End star Killian Donnelly and talent show hopeful Matt Henry in the lead roles obviously helps too, but it’s impressive all the same – the Adelphi seats 1,500.
I was there mainly to support former Sunny Afternoon cast members Amy Ross & Verity Quade, but also out of curiosity of the show itself.
The whole building was buzzing with excitement; I know it’s a bit of a cliché, but the anticipation was palpable. I’d not been able to get a day seat (I don’t think I’m at the stage of queuing up at 4.30am for anything yet – not even Sunny!), so I climbed up to the upper circle. All that was available for someone on a bit of a budget but still seeking reasonable value… Row H, slap bang in the centre of the section: not too shabby! Though I’ve definitely become something of a stalls snob now – I’d rather not be that far away again. But for this occasion it was worth the eye straining just to say I’d been there. I do hope that the cheering & applause when Killian & Matt first appeared onstage was just because it was the very first performance, and not indicative of the West End becoming ‘Broadway-ified’…
Anyway, I’m not going to say any more about the show itself (that can wait until after press night!), but I think you can tell that I really enjoyed being a part of this event.
I’d only been to the Adelphi once before, day seating for Made In Dagenham, so I’d not seen the full majesty of this beautiful Art Deco theatre. It truly is a sight to behold; one of the benefits of sitting higher up is that you can appreciate the full scale of an auditorium’s glory.
Considering the mass of people, everything flowed very smoothly & efficiently – however, I have one gripe. Programmes were exclusively on sale in the merchandise booths (upstairs, at least), so if all you wanted was that you still had to line up behind the people buying the entire range of products on show, and fiddling around trying to pay on cards or find enough cash. Also, I’d gone into my section, thinking I’d get a programme in there, so had to come out again (fighting my way through the crowds) and dig out my ticket to be checked again. Not exactly convenient. With any luck this system has been changed now!
Once I could finally get out at the end (so many places for the queue to bottleneck), I headed to stage door – more in hope, as I thought there would probably be some kind of post-show celebration going on. Obviously the management at the Adelphi weren’t expecting fans to be there either, as it was just a mass of people!
I was stood directly below where this photo was taken, staying well out of the way of the mob! So I didn’t get to see Amy and pass on my congratulations in person, but that just gives me an extra incentive to go back, right?
And go back I will. I’m still hoping I might be lucky with a day seat, as the ticket prices are rather restrictive, even in previews. I’d quite like to see the actors’ faces properly this time, but I can’t afford to pay crazy money for the privilege!
I’ve got the bug for first previews now, I think. So much so I’ll be at Xanadu (Southwark Playhouse) for the first performance in October – this time to see another Sunny lady, Carly Anderson, in her new role. And hopefully many more first previews after that!