Emma and Kate, 1999

Emma:

I was part of the stage crew for an amateur production of Hello Dolly. I had been a part of the drama group for several years after being dragged along by my mum. It was always the same people in every production with the same people helping out backstage. Suddenly a new girl appeared for this production. I heard her before I saw her, she had an amazing singing voice! I hardly spoke to her during the few rehearsals we were at together but, part of my stage crew responsibility for the week of the show was to receive a bass drum from her at a point where she came off the stage, before returning very quickly. Through the adrenaline of the show and the speed at which she made this ‘drop off’ the ferocity at which the massive drum was thrust at me increased from night to night. Kate’s furious apologies to me every evening became our first talking point. We steadily became best friends and things made a natural course from there. We have been in several productions since then, including one pantomime in which she ended up marrying my mum! We eventually entered into a civil partnership and are still very happy together. We do not own a bass drum.

Kate:

I met my partner whilst in an amateur production of Hello Dolly. I was playing Ermintrude and looked quite old (I think she was supposed to be a younger teenager) so the director decided I would look younger if everything I wore was pink. I remember having to wear an awful lot of very badly fitted pink crinolene! Everything was far too long and too small across my chest.

The script said that Ermintrude played in the town band and it was decided that the ‘best’ instrument would be a bass drum. One was borrowed from the town band, it was enormous and really heavy. The think the drum was the one used to start the annual Flora dance (which was a really big deal in our town) so I felt rather a lot of responsibility for it not being damaged. I had to walk around the stage and then go off, take the drum off and then return back to the stage.

Emma was the official bass drum receiver! The wing space was tiny and it was very tricky to get the drum off and turn around in the huge skirts. Emma then had to get it down a tiny, narrow set of stairs at the back of the theatre. I remember watching her trying to manoeuvre it out without being able to see her feet or the stairs below her and worrying about what would happen if she fell and broke the Flora day drum.

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