Sunday, 28 November 2010

A final few words about Dancing on Ice

I have written a lot about the opening of this show as it was quite special. I don't have any photos of the rest of the show as i was always runing around too much to take any. As head of wardrobe once the show had started I would help Christopher Dean in his costume changes and Jayne Torvil with some of her changes too. In between those i would be catching up on paperwork and emails, ordering more tights etc. I would also try to tackle any repairs so that we had less to do the following day. Most of the costumes have to be handwashed so if they weren't being worn in the curtain call I or one of the team would set to and wash. On a load out day I would start to pack the roadcases as soon as the show had started. I could pack any clothes the judges and host weren't wearing that night ( they always have a choice of outfits). Then act one and most of our equipment would be packed. So by the time the show came down we only had to pack what was on the artists backs. The sooner we are packed up we can get on the bus and have a beer or get back to the hotel. If we are packed quickly it helps the smooth running of the load out for everyone else too. Wardrobe and catering are usually loaded on to the first truck. In some venues were the parking is limited if our truck is slow it has a knock on effect for the other departments.

As with any of the performing arts the costumes have their own requirements and an ice show is no different. Many hours are spent putting 20 inch zips in the inside leg of the mens trousers. These reach from the ankle to just above the knee and is done so that the trousers can be removed over the skates for a quick change. The ladies costumes are usually built around a leotard with small hooks and bars usually used as fastenings. Accessories might be armbands and necklaces but are usually kept to a minimum. Items that could get caught on a partner during a lift or fall onto the ice and become a hazard are best left off.

After the tour i took a little time off and then spent the summer working at The Old Vic theatre in Waterloo. It was a double bill of Shakespeare and i had a wonderful time. More on that soon...

Friday, 12 November 2010

Is it a bird? is it a plane? no it's a horse!

When I first heard about the flying horses naturally I didn't know what to expect. Then they arrived!

Rather cute they were too. The reigns were stiff and the heads loose so they could be animated. The skaters stepped into a large hole in the horses back and braces went over their shoulders.

Here is a picture from Rehearsals, the tails were too long so we had to trim them. We named them after the colour of their tails and ruffs, so in order we have Snowy, Jet, Saffron and Ruby.

Here are our fillies lined up backstage ready to go.

I don't have any photos of the horses in action as i was always running around at this point but here is some great footage of the opening from Youtube.

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Sweet dreams

The opening of the Dancing on Ice tours have been getting more and more exciting every year. This year was circus themed, though more in the Dr Parnassus vein than a traditional big top. The circus has been flavour of the month for many acts recently, Take that and Pink are the first to come to my mind. So to begin with I was a little disappointed to hear we were doing the same but in reality i think it was quite different. We had a three headed man, Rocket man, and flying horses no less.
The show started with Ray Quinn and a gigantic puppet bird swooping around the darkened arena. Chris and Jayne entered with a heavily laden wagon and with the aid of some props cast spells and conjured up the rest of the cast. All were wearing masks and many had a prop of some sort to deal with whilst trying to stay upright. It took a lot of rehearsing to get this right but the result was worth it. I only recently got to see this when the show was aired on Itv. I have no doubt it will be on again around Christmas for those who want to catch it again. Or you could buy the DVD of course!

When you do watch it, try to picture what is going on behind the big top that Chris and Jayne erect. As soon as this was in place, 2 wardrobe staff, 3 stage managers, 2 crew and an electrician along with the cast rushed forward and got into position. As the backstage crew have to walk on the ice we were issued with some grippers. These were fabulous, a rubber over shoe with spikes that enabled you to walk and not slip on the ice.

As the cast entered the arena through the curtain, Chris and Jayne would slip in the side. I would help them remove some of their costumes and their masks. Then Matt Evers would enter with a huge bass drum that i would take from him. stage management would remove the Pyrotechnics from Chris Fountain's legs. His rocket man costume always got an ooh. Then everyone would discard their masks throwing them under the curtain. We would all scrabble about trying to count that we had collected them all, not easy as you are looking for a small white thing on a white surface. Then i would race off carrying a huge basket of props, mask and the big bass drum. To be still on stage when the curtain was removed or to have left something behind would have been very unprofessional not to mention embarrassing.

Time for a breather you may think, oh no everyone excited the stage and had to be quick changed into their first outfits for the introductions. I have said this before but it is true that the changes have to be as choreographed as the routines, wardrobe, hair and make-up and the artistes working together at speed.

One of my favourite parts of the opening was the horses but more on those in a few days time...