Coming to the chapel in the dark is quite an experience. A few spherical lamp-posts illuminate part of the path, leading up to the imposing figure of the chapel, its spire looming out against the twilight clouds behind. It was now only four days until our first show, and we'd come to Netley for the first tech rehearsal.
We came in around the side, and, maybe it's just me, but there's a certain buzz I get from going through doors marked "staff only," and "no entry". The set looked amazing: greater and so much more Dickensian than I ever thought possible back in Eastleigh. From Bob Cratchit's desk, to the small fireplace, this really was A Christmas Carol, and it was beautiful.
And this time, we'd be in costume.
The ghostly costumes were almost entirely black and white, with interesting stripes and patterns. The Dead Haunted Crew had more of a modern take, with their branded "Dead Haunted" caps. Even the actual stage crew wore them! I also had a little chance to hear how things sounded through the headphones, and it was euphonic.
The actual rehearsal hadn't even begun, yet it was already the best so far. It felt humbling to be a part of something so big yet so... intimate. Tyler, who I hadn't yet met, but had heard much about, gave us our mics. He was very kind and patient when I had a few little problems putting it on properly.
All the cast was there, alongside James, Lily, and Dan of course, but also so many others. David was there controlling audio, and Indi now had a more elevated role, even saying some lines. Evie was back, as was Lara after she'd come back the day before. The kind Trudy (who I'd only met a day previously) was there, as was Josh, another tech person who I haven't had a chance to talk to yet. All in all, it felt amazing to see everything and everyone coming together like this.
And so the tech rehearsal began. Four hours felt like two in the magic of theatre, though we didn't quite reach the end of act 1. With all of the props we now had, it gave some scenes, such as preparing for Fezziwig's party, a greater sense of clarity. No longer were we putting up imaginary bunting, but actual paper chains, making the actions more purposeful.
During the break, I walked up to a little tea/coffee-making room with Izzy. As I stood there, with Joe, Aidan, Izzy, Trudie, and who I believe was Izzy's Dad, I felt that rare, comforting sense of belonging that wanders into your life every so often. I saw, more starkly than ever, the beauty and serenity of 404. This was why Kelly had been so excited for tech rehearsals.
As I fall asleep writing this blog, I just cannot wait to return tomorrow. This show will be oh so wonderful, just you wait.