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Other perks of the job

March 16, 2011

Last week’s blog mentioned how much I value the perk of being sent discs to review, and being able to use work time to do so. Later that week, I was reminded of my favourite perks of all… visiting very beautiful old venues in the peace of the morning, when only technicians and maintenance staff are usually around.

I was invited by one such to have a look around a fabulous converted pre-war cinema (I’ll keep the name out of this, as it was for working reasons), and as soon as I walked in, I could see why it was granted ‘Grade 2’ listing.

Despite a chequered history (as so many venues of the era have), glorious art-deco greeted me in the foyer, and followed through to the auditorium itself. Lamps, panels, proscenium, even the actual layout of the place radiated the joy of those who designed such buildings; and constantly leached back into the space the pleasure absorbed from those entertained there. No wonder, as my guide told me, even the hardened performers working the venue come onto the stage, take a look around, and say ‘wow!”

Notice that I use the plural ‘favourite perks of all’ above. The second perk quickly became apparent as I chatted to my guide… the people who work in theatre. Elsewhere, it may be considered ‘strange’ to discuss in obsessive detail theatrical interiors, production techniques and the myriad mysteries of what goes into a performance, so it’s always nice to feel ‘normal’ (or close to it) for a change.

Also, as illustrated both that day and later in the week with somebody else, the fact that everybody seems to know everybody – at the very most by just a single remove – I found interesting. Able to track down one person with whom I’d lost touch, and another with whom I needed to resolve a problem, just by ‘x knowing y who knew z.’ Amused me, anyway.

What also amused me was the fact the Society of London Theatre Olivier Awards committee went with their hearts rather than their heads this week. I honestly had far more fun at “Legally Blonde” than “Love Never Dies” myself – though I hasten to add that “Love Never Dies” is superior from a purely technical viewpoint in most ways, and it is an outstanding, really outstanding show. Still, I cheered like mad as Sheridan Smith, Jill Halfpenny and then ‘Legally Blonde’ itself were recognised as the best of 2010. Congratulations to all… and “Into The Woods” (another great call). Do see both shows, plus catch “Into The Woods” at digitaltheatre.com when it arrives. You won’t regret it.

P.S. A quick credit where credit is due. Yesterday applications opened for tickets to the 2012 Olympic Games. I’d pre-registered my interest, and knew that I had six weeks to apply. Still, in the spirit of curiosity – and expecting a jammed website – I decided to log on at around 2.30pm, just after lunch, to see what was going on. Well, kudos to Ticketmaster, who built and administered the system… ten minutes later, I’d completed my application for tickets to four sessions – worth a try, right?! Seconds after logging out, a confirmation of application arrived, and now all I have to do is wait with fingers crossed. Simple to use, easy to understand, and cleverly designed so you can put in for as few or as many price bands as you wish; that’s how to do it – and I take it as a great sign for the event itself if they have already got the ticketing system so right, the rest must surely follow.

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