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Good morning from Buxton!

I thought about blogging from the Buckingham Hotel on Monday when I first arrived, but I was exhausted from travel (though the travel was about as smooth as I have ever experienced travel to be).

And I was cold. In fact, I’m still cold. For whatever reason, I was cranky and homesick and fed up with everything on Sunday when I was packing, so I didn’t bother to check the weather forecast. If I had, I would have noticed that the temperatures, far from being summery and pleasant, had dropped into what feels like winter after sweating my butt off in Paris. So I arrived in Buxton with 17 kilos-worth of tank tops, shorts, summer dresses, and light cardigans, when what I really need are boots, jacket, more pairs of jeans than just the one I traveled in, heavy socks, and scarves. I did buy some tights at Marks and Spencer as soon as I got here, but I think I may go back this morning and see if I can get a pair of leggings so that I can wear dresses in rehearsal. (But I do think this beats hot weather, as I’ve been told that not much is air-conditioned in Buxton. I would much rather be cold outside than hot inside.)

All of that said, I am happier than a pig in…well, you know what (keeping it clean since 2011). I am putting on a production of a show I love with talented, smart people who are as obsessed with Gilbert and Sullivan as I am. It’s possible to drop a reference in conversation to any G&S show (or indeed, any musical) and have it noted and appreciated. Speaking of that, though, I have to say I’m feeling some of the gaps in my knowledge rather acutely. I decided when buying tickets for festival shows that I would only go to see things that I hadn’t seen yet. Last night I went to see my first Iolanthe; during Act II I sat in the balcony with Jonathan, our Dr. Daly, who has done and directed Iolanthe several times, and who told me that it was delightful to see it with somebody who was not even a little bit familiar with the material (okay, I know just enough to make “half a fairy” jokes, but that’s really it). Tonight will be my first H.M.S. Pinafore. Every time I tell people I’ve never seen Pinafore, they say, “What, never?” To which the Pinafore response is “Hardly ever,” but the truth is, I’ve NEVER seen Pinafore. Over the course of the week, I’ll also be seeing Ruddigore, Patience and The Gondoliers (which I’ve been in, of course, but have never seen, and also it’s one of the professional productions, and there’s nothing like a good professional G&S troupe!).

(As I was writing the above paragraph, my breakfast arrived. I’m the only person eating breakfast this early, apparently, and actually it wasn’t supposed to be ready until 8. I have to say, I could get used to a place where they set breakfast down in front of you and, upon observing your reaction, say, “Do your best.” Well, I could get to used to it, but I probably shouldn’t. Also, I think I need to ask the girl who made the food how she fries her eggs, because they are perfect. I’ve been trying unsuccessfully to fry eggs in the kitchen at the Fondation for weeks, but I always end up with either a mess or a nearly-hardboiled yolk in the middle of runny whites.)

I’m also really enjoying rehearsals. Yesterday was pretty hilarious. I met Matt (Alexis) and Jonathan (Dr. Daly, as previously noted) in the morning, and a couple of hours later we did the “Aline drinks the philtre, sees Dr. Daly and makes out with him, at which point they are discovered by Alexis, who makes out with Aline before she tells him that she’s fallen in love with Dr. Daly as a result of drinking the philtre.” We all got to know each other veeeeeery quickly with all of that kissing. The cast, as I mentioned, are wonderful (those that I’ve met so far–we have our first full-cast meeting today), and I’m really enjoying working with the director, Gary, and the music director, Eric. We’re doing a present-day Sorcerer, which is wonderful because it makes Aline so much less of a milksop (despite our efforts in Hyde Park last year, I don’t think I quite managed to transcend the writing!). But it also presents a nice challenge for everyone, because the dialogue is so far from the way we speak today (I do think that Gilbert improved on that a bit as he got better at the operetta-writing thing; the dialogue in the other shows I’ve done, and in Iolanthe, is much more colloquial and natural-sounding). But it’s fun to find ways to inflect the text that make it sound more modern, and to put emphasis on different words than I did the first time I did this show.

Anyway, luckily it was beautiful out on Monday afternoon, so I managed to get out for a nice long walk in the bracingly cold air (in France the cold is hideous, but in England it just makes me feel sort of hearty). As it looks like it may rain every day until I leave on August 9th, I’ll post a few pictures from Monday. With any luck I’ll manage to take more eventually, though really it’s a very small place and I think I’ve got the gist of it.

It’s the bicentennial of Edward Lear, so there are limericks hanging up all over town, and in our rehearsal space (which is called the Devonshire Dome; it has incredible acoustics–if you speak normally on one side of the central space, under the domed ceiling, somebody standing on the other side can hear you. I’ll try to get a picture of it today!).

Gilbert and Sullivan AND Edward Lear? Oh, it is too much happiness!

Cheers, (oh, what a relief to be functioning in English!)
Anne

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