Greetings from Sunderland and the first week of the Sleeping Beauty tour where the Company are playing to large and enthusiastic audiences. There’s no such thing as a quiet week on tour and this week has proved to be no exception – after a spot of shellac-removal from a dressing room sink yesterday afternoon (who said Company Management wasn’t glamorous?) the fun really started during Act II of last night’s show when water began dripping from the ceiling above one of the entrances to the stage.

A spot of investigation quickly revealed that the source of the problem was in the sprinkler system pump room directly above. The local crew moved swiftly into action with buckets and mops during the interval, an emergency plumber was called and we started Act III without a great deal of concern.

However, a couple of minutes into Act III as one of the guys mopping up the leak turned the valve to stop the supply of water to the leaky pipe, the entire valve (and most of the pipe it was fixed to) sheared off in his hand unleashing a significant torrent of water! Having ascertained that we were safe to carry on with the show, every spare pair of hands was enlisted to keep the water at bay as it ran through ceilings and down staircases; it was mopped, vac’d, swept out of firedoors and every spare towel and blanket was assembled to form an absorbent dam across the doorway to the stage to keep the water away from scenery, costumes and shoes.

Lovely weather for pas de deux

The performance finished uninteruppted with the delighted audience completely oblivious to the drama ocurring backstage (unless they walked past the rear of the theatre on the way home and saw the water pouring out of the building!); Company and orchestra were directed out via alternative staircases and the emergency plumber had a very busy night. Everything was fixed by about 1am and by the time this afternoon’s rehearsals began, everything was dry and back to normal.

What with the significant flooding in the FOH toilets last time we were in Sunderland and the evacuation of the Cyrano Saturday matinee at Sadler’s Wells last autumn when the basement flooded, maybe we should think about getting Birmingham Royal Ballet branded wellies! Fingers crossed that the rest of the tour remains dry both outside and in!

Paul.

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