That photo pretty much sums up how I feel right now.
Last night I achieved the ridiculous, and saw Sunny Afternoon at the Harold Pinter Theatre for the 200th time. Considering there have been only 530 days between its first preview and yesterday, that’s an effort that most would call unachievable & (frankly) insane. And also expensive.
But what are you supposed to do when you find something that you love? I mean, if I didn’t live in London the numbers wouldn’t have stacked up so quickly, but as it is right on my doorstep… Basically it would be rude not to!
I’m most likely repeating myself in saying that this probably wouldn’t have happened if the fantastic original cast hadn’t been so, well, fantastic. It is of course a brilliant show, with stunning arrangements of great songs – but you still have to be able to present that properly. And when you do that, you create something that’s greater than the sum of its parts. To top it all off, the whole lot of them are genuinely lovely people; it’s difficult to resist wanting to support a team who treat you so well.
This kind of synergy is also very much in evidence in the 2015/16 cast. It’s hard to comprehend how the casting team managed to find another group of madly talented actor-musicians to fit the roles so well, and unequivocally make the show their own. Plus (you guessed it) this lot are also lovely offstage too.
As such, it’s heartbreaking that so few fans of the show in its original incarnation have decided to give it a go. It’s understandable; we all got incredibly attached to the original cast (I basically spent half a year in their company) and they gave us so many wonderful memories. But I feel like the two casts have put enough of their own stamp on things that you can consider them distinct productions – I find it impossible to compare the two groups, and genuinely love Sunny 1.0 & Sunny 2.0 equally. Now the current cast are close to 6 months into their residency, it is the perfect time for some more people to give it a go. The cast are ultra-confident & absolutely at the top of their game.
It actually pains me to think that we won’t get some sort of recording released. This kind of show is crying out for a live recording of some sort – and our new set of Kinks are such accomplished musicians it’s just wrong to not get that down for posterity. I could write essays on Tom’s bass playing & Oliver’s guitar skills alone… (Don’t worry, I won’t!) The bass kick as ‘I Gotta Move’ draws to its close makes my heart skip a beat, Oliver’s effortless performance of Dave’s “nice lick” throughout ‘Waterloo Sunset’ entrances me, and Tom’s mastery of the surprisingly complex ‘Lola’ bassline is consistently eye-catching. ‘You Really Got Me’ and ‘Set Me Free’ are definitely two of my favourite band performances; the energy ripples through the audience and hits you right in the heart.
Of course, me being me, I couldn’t work up to the big milestone too gradually – and I obviously had to be the first Afternooner to do a Thursday double. It’s inconceivable that I wouldn’t! (Though I really am not convinced a schedule of three two-show days, almost completely consecutively, is going to work. I can only hope the cast – humans, not robots – can come through it relatively unscathed when it kicks in later in the year.)
Doing things this way meant I could include Ryan (alternate Ray) in my day of celebrations, as he and Danny were taking turns over the two shows. It wouldn’t be fitting for me to have no Team B around for such an occasion, so it was nice for him to be joined by Kay & Alex as Mrs Davies & Wace.
It was a really fun afternoon, if not a bit disorientating emerging from the theatre & it still being light – and trying to remember it was a Thursday, rather than a Wednesday or a Saturday…
So, one double G&T later (& several pre-show congratulatory wishes) and it was time. Sat in the same seat as the matinée (well, why not?) but it definitely felt different. I was rather excited! As the boys gathered onstage, a massive grin found its way onto my face & barely left it… I must’ve looked like a bit of a loon if anyone glanced over at me but, well, you only have your 200th show once. The first scene made me so happy that I could feel my cheeks aching after about two minutes.
And it really felt like the volume had been turned up. Just the way I like it!
I would usually pick out my ‘best bit’, but on this occasion I just couldn’t. I laughed until I cried, and cried until I laughed. By the end I had such a feeling of euphoria that I couldn’t help but lead a standing ovation before the finale (ably assisted by a very keen table AA). It had been just what I’d hoped for – it just went so bloody quickly! But, as we discovered last year, that is the hallmark of a great show.
I really couldn’t have asked for more from this bunch of lovelies. Their first trial of a two-show Thursday and their energy & commitment remained faultless. I had been promised that the evening show would be just for me and, from where I was sitting, it definitely felt like it. Any little thing I’ve mentioned in passing that I love was brought in, and I really enjoyed being wished a “happy 200th!” by several of them from the stage!
The milestone of course prompted similar questions, to which I still don’t really have the answers. And one very strange one (“Do you feel like you’ve gestated?”) which I also couldn’t answer, but it gave me a proper chuckle! I’m most definitely back in the full throes of my Sunny love. And you know what? I can’t think of a place I’d rather be.