“…and now it’s gone. All gone.”

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Final bows
Photo credit: @HPinterTheatre

It’s happened. And I can’t quite process it yet, actually. So much so that I’ve not really cried since Waterloo Sunset rang out for the final time last night.

To be honest, I’m probably in shock and once the time comes where I think, “Ooh, I think I’d like to go to Sunny tonight” comes around it will hit me like a high-speed train – it is going to be really strange not planning my life around when I want to go to the show each week. What also helped was the incredible amount of support around me from start to finish yesterday. Tweets from left, right & centre, nearly an entire reunion (though Sandie was definitely there in spirit) and a full cast onstage for two final shows who I knew would give it absolutely everything to make sure it was as special as possible for everyone.

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We had to start the day watching over the theatre for a bit, plus it’s a handy spot for reunions, so the Tom Cribb was the first destination when I finally got into town. I think at that point I was pretty much just excited – final day matinées are the perfect opportunities for mucking around, and we’d been promised things to look out for, so I really couldn’t wait to see what was in store!

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The last time I’d seen Chris onstage was the previous Monday, as he’d been off for the rest of this final week – so I have to confess that I had forgotten quite how cheeky he’d been getting already. Helen coined the term ‘Gabrehensive’ to describe the mixture of excited worry about whatever Gabriel was going to get up to, and that was mostly what I was anticipating, so actually it was a nice surprise.

We were all split up into clusters for this show, with me being the only one over on the left-hand side (occupying Sandie’s seat), so I’d promised that I’d cackle extra loud. Mission accomplished, I reckon.

My original plan for this post was to write up all of the muck ups (they can’t get into trouble now), but the cast deserve some hearty congratulations for the effort they put in – there are simply far too many for me to go into!

There are, of course, some standouts. One thing that I’ve loved this year is Oliver’s Dave using socks lying around on the bed to taunt & hit his sisters with – so this time the girls turned the tables on him and got their own back in what I’ve dubbed ‘Sock Wars’. Then the girls did for Danny a bit later on in Dead End Street, with Niamh brandishing a pair of spoons rather than the usual washboard; the look on his face was brilliant, as were his slightly pitiful attempts to play them properly. Gabriel tripping up on the steps, with Charlie then falling on top of him, at the end of You Really Got Me was some incredible slapstick (“Embarrassing on live television” was the reaction quote afterwards).

And then we get to Chris. He always tries his best to make everyone corpse anyway, so this show played right into his hands! From his “tremendously well-connected” introduction, to the “upper-class twat shtick” and telling the family that The Who were “about to become “Who-ge”… I’m surprised my whole face didn’t cramp up from smiling & laughing so much!

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Obviously the second act is a bit more of a serious affair, but that didn’t stop the odd thing going on. Full credit to Niamh; her diner girl is sassy enough at the best of times, but yesterday afternoon she took it to a whole new level! Danny had absolutely no idea that was going to happen, so the look on his face was absolutely priceless – I definitely was in the perfect seat for that moment. I’d also been anticipating the Klein scene for a bit of fun, and this time Danny came up trumps by finally getting his “revenge” on Steve for a year’s worth of crotch-grabbing! Gabriel, of course, hadn’t finished his tricks by that point and left Lia wondering what to do with a trombone when he stole her trumpet for the Sunny Afternoon hoopla – and Damien finally got his kiss in the build-up to Waterloo Sunset, though from Danny rather than Megan!

All this didn’t stop me from crying, but what else would you expect? There are parts that will always get me – and Oliver & Danny’s relationship is so strong that A Long Way From Home would never leave me dry-eyed. Also, seeing some of the cast clearly emotional onstage is enough to make me feel the same (especially those you don’t expect it from). But most definitely the funniest show I’ve ever seen, and you couldn’t really ask for a more perfect start to the day’s events.

Between shows the best preparation seemed to be to return to the pub, our ‘local’ for the past couple of years – on a day like this, who needs to eat properly?! I certainly didn’t. I had enough food to keep me standing and the gin did the rest…

The added bonus of this slightly reckless approach was bumping into a group of the original cast who had come along for the final performance. I’ve missed each & every one of them terribly, but I’ve been lucky enough to see quite a few of them in new projects over the past year. It was lovely to have a little catch-up before the show, as well as pass them in the foyer during the interval – and then briefly see a couple afterwards & hear how much they enjoyed themselves!

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Original cast in for the final show
Photo credit: @LillieFlynn86

I had to take a deep breath as I entered the theatre and then the auditorium for the final time. It was a momentous occasion, though the gin was working wonders at keeping me slightly calm. I’ll obviously be back in that theatre again, and seeing the show in one form or another somewhere in the future, but still. This is the only place I’ve ever seen it, it’s where I was introduced to it just about two years ago to the day, and things are going to be really strange from now on.

Helen, Ksenia & I were at table BB for the final show (booked all the way back in June, would you believe?) – my favourite table from the whole run, so it just seemed right. Taking in Elliott’s ‘overture’ for the last time and watching the boys survey the house didn’t help me; the anticipation & waiting didn’t do me any favours. So, of course, after a lot of bottom lip biting in the early stages, I gave in fairly early on. When Alice screamed her head off during Set Me Free, of all things! (It was partly to do with something she’d tweeted me the other day, but still…) I was still smiling though, and luckily Oliver came along & gave me once last drenching which disguised any tears that might’ve been left on my face!

I was buzzing by the time the interval came along, so started the second act on a high. And that was definitely helped by seeing Chris’ extended horse mime from the perfect vantage point – a handful of us giggling at Dave shooting Larry’s imaginary horse was probably a tad confusing for a lot of people in the audience..! I could feel myself starting to really go by the time Sitting In My Hotel and I Go To Sleep came around, though the real breakdown came through in the final four. A Rock and Roll Fantasy was a moment to say goodbye to Tom, Days a reflection on the entire run (I was definitely doing my odd large grin but streams of tears by the time they gathered at the front of the stage), A Long Way From Home always gets me but this was like watching Danny & Oliver say goodbye to each other – and Waterloo Sunset just rounds everything off entirely, especially with an added wink.

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Final bows
Photo credit: @KinksMusical

This is where Sunny Afternoon plays its trump card. The finale immediately lifts your spirits, plus if I’m more emotional than usual I use it to let that emotion out in the form of singing as loudly as possible – the more inflamed my throat feels, the better! And with a full house coming together to join in from the very start, it just makes it even better. The atmosphere was absolutely incredible. I couldn’t have asked for any more.

It seemed like the cheering & applause was never going to stop – it definitely surprised the cast, who came back on for another curtain call in various stages of undress! Obviously Ray himself was there too, and came out to say a few words of thanks at that point. What I rather enjoyed was our very own Fabio (guitar tech extraordinaire) getting his own mention. The show simply wouldn’t function without him, so we at table BB went understandably wild when he got his recognition!

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Once we then finally got outside it was really weird. I mean, seeing the trucks there ready to load everything up could’ve been a bit of a buzzkill, but luckily we kept encountering the cast on their way to the after party so that distracted us for a while.

And we managed to say goodbye & thank you to pretty much everyone, which was really nice. Remembering the mayhem from cast change week last year I was fully prepared to not see many people if the crowding got too bad, but we all got our turns & also were given some nice bits of new job news – that sweetened the pill a bit, as Larry might say!

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Expect another post once it has properly sunk in. Writing this has almost cracked me a couple of times, but I must still be in a bit of denial I suppose. Going through cast change last year & coming out the other side is also in the back of my mind – I know there will be hard days, but ultimately it will be worth it for the memories I’ve gathered since 31 October 2014 and the new projects that lie ahead for everyone.

Last night truly was the end of an era, but what an awesome one it was.

“But it’s alright, now I’m not frightened of this world – believe me…”

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